192 Mott Street New York, NY 10012; map); 212-219-2353; lassonyc.com/
Pizza Style: Neapolitan and Chicago deep dish
Oven Type: Wood for the Neo, Gas for Chi-Town
The Skinny: Two well-intentioned pies using quality ingredients fall short in execution.
Price: Margherita DOC, $16; Deep Dish Supreme, $16
I was eating a dainty Neapolitan pizza with Adam Kuban recently when I lamented the fact that there's no Chicago deep dish pizza available in NYC (putting aside the few remaining branches of awful chain Uno Chicago Grill, which is actually headquartered in Boston). Adam mentioned that there is a place in Astoria that reportedly sells deep dish pies, but a few days later Time Out announced that L'asso is now selling a deep dish pie much closer to my Manhattan home.
Since the deep dish pizza takes about half an hour to prepare, I ordered a Margherita DOC for the wait, expecting a classic Neapolitan-style pie. It sort of looked like that when it was delivered to the table, although the rather over-generous sprinkling of oregano would probably offend the purist.
Neapolitan pies are generally soft and supple with an airy cornicione, but the crust at L'asso was crisp throughout and a bit dense. This pizza spent too much time in the oven.
There was also far too much sauce on the pie. It obscured the mild flavor of the cheese and caused a watery, oily deluge to fill the plate. Fortunately the tomatoes themselves tasted delicious—sweet and vibrant with very low acidity. Which is just as well, since the large portion size could have been a recipe for severe heartburn.
The ingredients on the pie were beyond reproach, the wood fired oven certainly seems up to the task, but the execution of the pizza left something to be desired. This pie might have been considered decent five years ago but with so many excellent Neapolitan pizza joints around these days, L'asso's Neapolitan is behind the curve.
But the reason I was at L'asso was the deep dish pizza. As soon as it arrived, I noticed a problem: there were not enough toppings (or more correctly, fillings) in the pie.
Expecting the cheese, tomato, sausage, mushrooms and onions to reach the brim of the crust, I was disappointed that the pie looked a little deflated. In Chicago, a deep dish pie often has an entire layer of sausage, but this pizza was extraordinary in its stinginess. I had just a couple of bites of sausage in a pie that should have oozed porky goodness in every mouthful.
The crust was also problematic. It had the pleasing burnishing characteristic of the style, but it was so crisp and arid that it was hard to cut. I found myself sawing at it furiously to cut a slice. It appeared to be the same dough used in the regular pie, lacking the airiness and croissant-like flakiness that the best Chicago-style pies exhibit. Perhaps a little more oil in the dough would help.
As with the Margherita DOC, I can't complain about the quality of the ingredients in the deep-dish pie, although the quantity of the toppings should really be doubled. The pie cost $16, but I would gladly pay $20-24 for twice the fillings and a light, flaky crust.
L'asso has a lot of potential. The quality of the ingredients is quite high, the service is friendly and neighborly, and the restaurant has a relaxing Bohemian vibe. But after one pie with too much on top and one pie with not enough, I'd say the pizza at L'asso is a work in progress.
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