Cafe Fiorello: Pizza That's Thin -- Very Thin
In style, the pizza is probably closest to Roman, and in fact the umbrellas that shelter the voluminous outdoor seating area read "Fiorello's Roman Cafe." They're long, almost rectangular, pizzas. Thin, yes, but large and filling enough to feed two, which is good, because the pizza here doesn't come cheap. The Margherita, made with buffalo mozzarella, starts at $28, and the rest go for $30, $32, $34. There's even a "Whole Lobster Pizza" for $54.
You're probably asking: Why would a person pay that much for pizza? (And that's before you factor in an appetizer or two, which you'll probably want in addition to that pie. ... Oh, you'll get a couple bits of complimentary bread, above, while you wait for your drink orders.)
And my answer is Lincoln Center, which is directly across Broadway from Fiorello's. There's a captive audience there in opera-goers, dance fans, movie geeks—folks who need to get themselves fed in between the office and curtain time.
That's not to say the pizza isn't good, because it is. It will never please Neapolitanistas or die-hard, old-school New York–slice lovers, but Fiorello's is unique in its own way. Almost bar pizza–like in its paper-thinness, it has a fresh-tasting sauce with creamy buffalo mozzarella topping it, a handful of roasted grape tomatoes strewn across it.
The crust is more crisp than chewy, crunchy at times, and because of its thinness is prone to burning at the edges—quite unpleasant those bits.
But most of the time you'll get a perfectly good slice. Not mind-blowing, but a solid option for quick pizza if you're seeing something across the street or down at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.*
* One of my favorite NYC theaters, so Girl Slice and I go to Fiorello often.
One thing I love about Fiorello is that it feels very '80s. From the signage to the decor to parts of the menu. I mean ...
... hello, prosciutto and melon! Time-travel trendy food to the max! But that's why we love the place. I mean, prosciutto and melon cannot be denied, and we order it every time.
If you want the real skinny on Cafe Fiorello, though, go read Gael Greene's recent post on the place. Ms. Greene, the "Insatiable Critic," is a regular there and covers the place like no one else can.
In fact, at some point Ms. Greene named it the best pizza in NYC when she used to write for New York magazine. Fiorello saw fit to brass-plaque it. That's maybe from an era when the NYC pizza game wasn't as strong as it is now. I don't know if I'd name it best pizza in NYC these days. But, heck, even that plaque is a bit of a time trip.
In the end, and from a pizza-hunter's perspective, I think what Fiorello is good for is eating some good, very thin crust pies on a nice day outside before a show.