Sad news for coal oven–pizza lovers: Totonno's is closing both its Manhattan locations. The notice above is from the Second Avenue & 81st Street location, which will morph into a restaurant called Toscano's. (Text of notice, after the jump.) No word on what, if anything, will replace the 26th & Second Avenue location. The original Coney Island location remains open.
'Upper East Side' on Serious Eats
Academia di Vino is a very respectable two-location wine bar (Upper West and Upper East) with that offers grilled pizza. The Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella ($12) features a few splotches of a cooked, olive-oil heavy tomato sauce (a departure from the uncooked canned San Marzanos that top Al Forno pies), and a good amount of fresh and dried mozz. But the Robiola, Black Truffle Pâté, and Pecorino ($15) is the one to get here.
On Slice, we've always resisted the urge to do numerical rankings of pizzerias. How can you possibly post a credible Top 8 list that's anywhere near accurate? There are so many factors involved in making a great pizza — the temperature of the oven at any given moment, the humidity of the air, the age of the dough, the amount of time (down to the second) the pizzaiolo keeps the pie in the heat. You may eat pizza nirvana one night only to go back the next and find pizza mediocrity.
The first time I stopped by San Matteo on the Upper East Side, I ordered a Margherita, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed. The moisture from the mozzarella made the crust go limp, and the cheese had not melted fully. Was there something wrong with the huge wood-fired oven?
The Pizza Cognition Theory states that "the first slice of pizza a child sees and tastes...becomes, for him, pizza." If this theory is true, then the pizza at Mimi's is how I think pizza should taste. Or, rather, Mimi's circa 1975.
Gino's makes a good slice. It's of average thickness for a New York slice, has a nice layer of crispness on the bottom, and has a good amount of melty, buttery cheese that pulls away in strings as you take a bite. It's not a life-changing slice, but I'd happily eat it if I lived in the neighborhood or was passing through (as I was, on my way to Little Luzzo's).
It comes down to this: This particular Campagna slice is good stuff. I have no idea what they call it, but you can't miss it there. It's got a crisp, not-at-all greasy crust topped with a heavy cream sauce, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and shaved Parmesan cheese. The sauce is none too heavy, the cherry tomatoes add a burst of sweetness, and the shaved Parmesan balances that with its tanginess and little crystals of salt.
"Burnt cheese is not a gimmick, it's a guilty pleasure that we should all indulge in..." [Photographs: DJ Bubbles] Abitino's (UES) 1592 First Avenue, New York NY 10028 (82nd/83rd; map); 212-734-8800; abitinospizza.com Pizza style: Grandma pies and slices Oven type: Steel-deck gas-fired The Skinny: The grandma pies here are the thing to get. Make sure to order them well-done Whatever happened to "What can I get for your, sir?" when you walk into a pizzeria? These days, I'm getting a lot of "Whaddya want, tons of fun?" It's that type of treatment that has had me ordering in lately. Back...
"It sometimes seems as if he's living in an alternate pizza universe—one where Papa John is Chris Bianco and ambiance should be a topping that you can order like fennel sausage." Mic check 1, 2, 1, 2. Bubbles B in the place to be. Comin' outta retirement to work ya like a fireman. What's good, sliceheads? I know it's been a minute, but I have to break you off with a little something. I made a move to the Upper East Side (it's not all bad—Central Park, Museum Mile, D'Ag hags) and can't say much for the pizza thus far,...