Ovest Pizzoteca (aka Luzzo's West)
513 West 27th Street, New York NY 10001 (map); 212-967-4392; ovestnyc.com
Getting there: Nearest subway is the C/E at 23rd Street, and even that's a walk
Pizza style: Neapolitan
Oven type: Wood-fired
The skinny: Luzzo's sister restaurant serves up a solid pizza and a great middday special for the lunch-starved folks working way out west in Chelsea.
Price: $6 lunch special for Pizza al Portafoglio or Pizza a Cono; Margherita, $9 for 8-inch and $17 for 12-inch
Now open: Ovest Pizzoteca (aka Luzzo's West), way the heck out on West 27th Street in Chelsea. The place fired up its wood-burning oven three days ago.
Spurred by discussion in the comments of Nick Solares's Luzzo's review last week, I went for lunch today to check it out and see if it was like its progenitor on First Avenue and 12th Street. Joining me was a name that might be familiar to longtime Slice readers — Seltzerboy! He works around the corner from the joint, and I knew I could count on him to help me taste-test.
As those same longtime Slice readers may know, I've never been a fan of the original Luzzo's. I've always maintained that its crust was too bland for my taste. I won't get into the whole backstory; you can read it here and here.
Well, today I have to eat crow.* I don't mind, though, because it's pizza-flavored crow. And that kinda crow always goes down easy.
I really liked the pizza today at Ovest. Granted, the crust was still a bit on the less flavorful side, but I think in my analysis in the past, I've been too forest-for-the-trees. When taken as a whole, a Margherita pizza at Ovest (and, I'm assuming, Luzzo's) is pretty dang good. Salty, saucy, creamy, with a rich hit olive oil goodness for good measure. As long as you're not looking to snack entirely on end-crusts or you're not stripping away the sauce and toppings, you could do far, far worse.
Especially in this neighborhood. There is NOTHING nearby. And I should know. I used to work just a block away at the Starrett-Lehigh Building, which is full of hungry workers huddled next to the Hudson, dying for a good, cheap place to open.
And if you hit Ovest for lunch (12 to 4 p.m.), there are two very good bargains there: the Pizza al Portafoglio (an 8-inch pizza folded "a libretto" so that you can eat it on the go) and the Pizza a Cono — that's right, a cone-shape pizza. Both are $6, and both will fill you up right.
If you are too busy to leave your desk, there's delivery. If you do go the delivery route, know that there's a $10 minimum. (Easy enough to hit if you get a coworker or two in on the order.) I'd suggest against ordering the Pizza al Portafoglio for delivery. It will most likely sog out on the way over. Go for the Pizza a Cono instead, which is AWESOME.
Ovest is having its grand opening tonight. Rumor from owner Michele Iuliano is that Martha Stewart (whose company occupies a floor in the Starrett-Lehigh Building and who is a big Luzzo's fan) promised to stop by tonight. You heard it here first, kids.
*Assuming the crust recipe and prep at Ovest is essentially the same as that at Luzzo's.
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