Slideshow: Ribalta: Neo-Neapolitan in Union Square

DOC ($15)
DOC ($15)
The Italian starter combined with 00 flour and New York water, cooked in a gas oven with wood accents, made for a yeasty, low-lipped pie that was simultaneously light and chewy, with a lovely crispy exterior and just the right hint of sourness. The low lip and the lack of excessive oil in the middle of pie made it post-Neapolitan, or Neapolitan-inspired or -derived rather than exactingly traditional.
Underbelly
Underbelly
Crust cross-section
Crust cross-section
Brussels Sprouts ($8)
Brussels Sprouts ($8)
Studded with pancetta and Pecorino and crowded into an oblong terra cotta roasting pan, a satisfying combination of thoroughly cooked but not mushy sprouts and crunchy pancetta cubes. We'd order it again today.
Anguria Salad ($14)
Anguria Salad ($14)
Straight-from-the-fridge burrata, watermelon, and potato-like tomatoes didn't impress, especially during one of the two great tomato months of the year.
The starter
The starter
Pizzas are leavened by a natural starter that pizzaiolo Pasquale brought back from Italy—it's somewhere between 80 and 100 years old, and over the course of a five to seven day rise it brings a noticeable lightness and cultured flavor to the dough.
Bread
Bread
The same crummy bread you'll find in Naples. In this respect Ribalta is quite authentic.
Pizza In Pala ($28)
Pizza In Pala ($28)
The Italian designer version of a Sicilian pizza, but made with less oil in the crust and mercifully less cheese. The crust was lighter than it looks with decent hole structure, and our server announced that these suckers were so big you could split your topping order, which we did.
Norma
Norma
Eggplant, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and Parmesan, all well-cooked—this is the half I'd order again.
Cross-section
Cross-section
Doughnuts ($9)
Doughnuts ($9)
For dessert we had something that was a cross between bombolini, mini-crullers without the twist, and churros, doughnuts that were moistened and lightened by adding potato starch to the dough. They were topped with Nutella, which is what just about every Italian dessert in a pizzeria is topped with. Some people are Nutella lovers. I am not, though if Ribalta used one of the expensive chocolate hazelnut spreads made both in the U.S. and Naples, I would have been very happy. The doughnuts themselves, coated with just the right amount of sugar, were excellent.
The ovens
The ovens
They have many ovens, including one that will be devoted exclusively to gluten-free pizza, but curiously none that are exclusively wood-burning.