Pizza Mezzaluna: Decent Pies Without the Fuss
There is no shortage of great New York style pies and slices in the West Village just south of Washington Square Park. Joe's on Carmine and Bleecker Street Pizza have great traditional New York slices, Artichoke's got a fantastic square slice (see our reviews here), John's does familiar brick-oven pies (read about'em here) heck, there's even a Two Boots, if that's your thing.
For Neapolitan pies, on the other hand, your options are a bit more limited. You can walk up to Olio e Piu, hope for a seat at Numero 28, or wait in line to get into Kesté. Most of the time, I'd say all three of these options are worth the fuss, but I've been in that area several times trying to convince friends to put up with the hassle it takes to get great pizza in New York, but either time or inclination precluded that option.
At those times I wish I'd known about Pizza Mezzaluna, one street over on West Houston.
It's a tiny shop—about a dozen seats inside and two tiny tables outside during the summer, but they put out an impressive array of pizzas, with ten different pies on their menu and a few rotating specials, along with salads, and pastas. They unfortunately no longer serve the $5 individual pizzettes that made it a perfect lunch spot back when Ed visited it in 2009, but at $13 to $16 for a pie big enough to feed two, it's still a pretty good deal.
The classic Margherita pie ($14) can be upgraded with buffalo mozzarella, and IMHO, it's worth the extra $4 for the extra creaminess and flavor. The crust at Mezzaluna is flavorful—bordering on a bit too salty—but certainly not top-tier. They've got some decent blistering and char, but seem to spend a bit too much time in a too-cool oven, causing them to acquire a more even golden brown than the dark/light splotchiness you look for in a truly great Neapolitan crust.
You can easily tell from the undercarriage that it spent too long in the oven. But if you're into crisp crusts that stand out on their own, you may not be disappointed by that.
Their specialty pies are thoughtful and well balanced. The Milano ($15) combines excellent salami, from Salumeria Biellese, along with sautéed spinach and mozzarella, while the Bianca ($16) is a sauceless pie with a handful of arugula (it's nice to see an arugula pie that doesn't have a mound of salad on it), prosciutto sliced just a hair too thick, and some token diced tomatoes. It's cheesed a little too heavily for my taste—I could have done with mozzarella or fontina, not mozzarella and fontina.
So does Mezzaluna put out pies that compete with the very best in New York? Nope. But there are some times when all you want is good food in a cheerful, relaxed atmosphere without having to fight your way in. This is the place to go for those occasions.