Daily Slice: The Mast'Nicola from Kesté Pizza & Vino
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
Roberto Caporuscio over at Kesté on Bleecker street makes some pretty serious pizza. Hardcore Neapolitan in form, they're one of the better examples of the style in the city (check out some more pics here), with a dough that's salty, tangy, and flavorful, mozzarella that's hand-stretched every morning, and a fresh, bright tomato sauce.
Strip away all those toppings though, and you've still got a pretty stellar piece of bread, which is, after all, what great pizza is all about. They get that at Kesté, which is why Caporuscio offers the Mast'Nicola ($9). Nothing more than a stretched crust topped with a thin scattering of Pecorino Romano, a few basil leaves, and some thin strips of lardo, it's what Caporuscio calls, "...the original pizza. What they ate before they had tomatoes in Italy."
The lardo—cured pork fat from Salumeria Biellese—is salty, and funky, melting as it cooks and saturating the surface of the crust with its overtly porky flavor, curling up into crisp little nuggets. The dusting of Pecorino is just enough to impart some nutty, sheep-milk flavor, and the basil adds its characteristic aroma, but really, this pie is all about the crust.
Best part? At $9, it's one of the cheapest pies you'll find in the city.
Kesté Pizza & Vino
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.