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The Neapolitan pizza juggernaut just won't quit. Coming just a few weeks after Don Antonio's opening, Via Tribunali opened its doors on Monday for dinner. A mini chain, Via Tribunali comes to NYC by way of Seattle, where owner Michael McConnell opened the first location in 2004. There are now four VTs in Seattle and one in Portland, Oregon. This is the first in NYC, and it opens along with next-door neighbor Caffe Vita, McConnell's coffee shop mini chain.
As per the Neapolitan thing, the pizzas are small, about 12 inches in diameter. Expect to order one per person.
At a Neapolitan-inspired place, there's always the chance that you'll be served an unsliced pizza. So it goes at Via Tribunali. Pizzerias that hue to more traditional Neapolitan practices often let the customer do the work. The thought is that slicing a pie before it gets to the table allows sauce to seep beneath the pizza and sog up the crust.
I visited on Tuesday, the second night it was open to the public. It's too early to pass judgment, but the pizzas we sampled were good. The crust has enough flavor to keep things interesting even on a Margherita (though we had the Margherita DOC, with buffalo mozzarella, which was creamy and slightly tangy). The sauce is bright, with enough salt to offset the sweetness of the tomatoes.
The crust on the two pies we had was somewhere between lightly charred and too charred, which I'm chalking up to the pizza-makers breaking in and learning their oven's hot spots. The hole structure is not as airy as, say, Motorino's but there's enough rise at the edges, showing a moderately open crumb.
Like the Via Tribs I've been to in Seattle, this one is well-thought-out decor-wise. It's all warm wood and brick walls. At night it's dark enough to serve as a date spot but doesn't devolve into a spelunking expedition (like the Georgetown Via Trib in Seattle). It's small, and there's a high cramp factor—which seems designed at once to make the place feel intimate and also jam in as many diners as possible.
Gennaro Nasti and Nico Calzone, both from Naples, are the pizzaioli here. Nasti comes from the Portland Via Tribunali (where the video above was shot), and before that worked for and learned from Antonio Starita at Pizzeria Starita in Naples.
For a nice look at the interior, check out this post on Eater.