The joint has 10 specialty pies, but you can also build your own. There are small bites (mozzarella or olives or housemade pickles, for example) and antipasti (meatballs, calamari) and salads. A lasagna is on the menu as well.
Poles in Holes
Unique to Nicoletta is this pizza-stand system. Each table has two spring-loaded holes that accept a single or double pizza stand. It's a nice way to keep table space clear for plates and glasses.
The serving stands have the letter "N" cut out. The pizzeria Nicoletta is named for White's daughter.
The Bufalina is the bare-bones, basic plain pie. Crushed tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. Because this one is so minimally topped you really notice the dryness of the crust. This one felt like a sop to New York–style purists—the kind of people who don't believe in putting much, if anything, in the way of toppings on a pizza. (And who, I suspect, won't like the pizza here anyway--the crust does not hue to the NYC style.) The crust seems formulated to stand up well to more heavily topped pizzas, like ... [next slide, please]
The Seafood Number
... the Marea. Named for Michael White's acclaimed seafood restaurant on Central Park South, the Marea will be instantly familiar to anyone who's eaten that restaurant's signature fusilli with baby octopus and bone marrow. When this one came out, at least two folks at our table remarked, "This smells like Marea." It's topped with tomato-braised octopus, bone marrow, basil, ricotta salata, and breadcrumbs (listed as "mollica" on the menu).
Can't Fight the Sheeter
Yes, the rumors are true. Michael White's Nicoletta is using a dough sheeter. The dough goes one pass through the machine.
Four Marsal & Sons brick-lined ovens.
I saw the Patate (Yukon gold potatoes, slab bacon, black pepper, mozzarella, scallions) as an interpretation or a cousin of the mashed potato and bacon pie at Bar in New Haven. It also reminded me of the Baked Potato pizza at Pete Zaaz in Brooklyn. Add a ramekin of sour cream for dipping, and you'd have the classic steakhouse side on a pizza.
This one is topped with sliced Osteria Morini porchetta, mushrooms, arugula, and mozzarella.
This pie probably most represents Michael White's Midwestern roots. The flavors here are pure Wisconsin pizza parlor pizza—pepperoni, fennel sausage, onions, olives, mozzarella.
The pepperoni is Rosa Grande, with a natural casing, which causes it to curl. The sausage chunks are thrown on raw and cook with the pizza in the oven, releasing the fat onto the pie. As a Wisconsin-born guy myself, this one really called to me.
Box Box Box
Some of the custom-printed boxes to see you out.