69 West 55th Street, New York NY 10019 (near Sixth Avenue; map); 212-247-3936; pizzarteny.com/
Pizza style: Neapolitan-style pizza
Oven type: Wood-fired
The skinny: Only a couple weeks old as of this post, PizzArte is already making some amazingly great Neapolitan pizza. The crust stands out as flavorful, crisp, smoky, and supple
Price: Margherita, $15; namesake PizzArte (squash blossoms, burrata, speck), $21
"Hey, Adam, I'm at [insert Midtown intersection here]. Is there any great pizza near me?"
I don't know how many friends, coworkers, and Slice'rs have asked me that question.
Used to be my answer was: When pigs fly, snowballs freeze in hell, and bears start using toilets instead of the woods. But just as a rising tide lifts all boats, even the historically pizza-poor landscape of corporate-HQ NYC has benefited from the ongoing trend toward pizza awesomeification in the last decade.
We've seen some really great slices come out of Pizza By Cer Té and Naples 45's take-out counter* and some much-better-than-average slices from Previti Pizza. And now, I'm happy to report, you can add destination-worthy Neapolitan pizza to the list of Midtown pie purveyors. And I wouldn't even dole out that familiar backhanded compliment "Good for Midtown," because the pies I had this week could hold their own against any of the city's top Neapolitan joints.
PizzArte opened about two weeks ago. According to Grub Street, the owners met while working at Naples-based clothing company Kiton — which might explain PizzArte's 55th Street location (near Sixth Avenue). Kiton's flagship NYC store is about a block away. PizzArte is a swanky bilevel space, and as its name might imply, it also serves as a gallery for up-and-coming Neapolitan artists.
But let's talk about the pizza. The crust at PizzArte is unlike almost any other Neapolitan pizza in the city — except for maybe Donatella's, of which it immediately reminded me. It is remarkably soft and almost supple, almost naanlike. The edges are lightly crisp, chewy.
The interior of the Margherita pizza ($15) is very moist, as per the custom of Neapolitan pizzas. It's not the soupiest Neapolitan pizza I've eaten, but you'll definitely need the knife and fork at least for the first slice (after that, things cool off and congeal enough that you could make an easier go of handholding it).
The crust packs a lot of flavor and really carries this pizza. It's slightly sour, smoky, and salty enough. I always like to use my "pizza bones" to sop up whatever oil and sauce is on the plate. I almost hesitated with this crust just so I could taste it and it alone. (But, yeah, then I just sopped up the oil and sauce anyway.)
The namesake PizzArte pizza (burrata, squash blossoms, and speck — $21) was good, too, but I still preferred the simplicity of the Margherita. The speck dominates the flavor here, and you have to concentrate to make out the squash blossoms in the mix. They taste faintly of zucchini, yes, but mostly of the olive oil in which they appear to have been marinated. The speck, of course, is delicious, and it's cut in pastalike ribbons — enough that you can really taste it but not so much that it threatens to come off your slice in a single large slab (which is sadly the case at some pizzerias that don't slice their cured meats thin enough or into manageable-size pieces).
I almost hate to recommend this place to you, since it's about two blocks from my office and is going to go into my personal lunchtime heavy rotation. But I didn't start this site to keep pizza a secret from you. So go. It's worth the trip.
* You have to get the take-out NYC-style slices at Naples 45, which are amazing — not the sit-down Neapolitan pies, which leave a little to be desired.