Sunday, March 27, 2011


Roma Pizza Is Hands Down #1 Pie in New York

It’s finally over. And it took formally trained Italian pizza makers to end it.

The war I speak of is the New York City pizza war… now raging into a 6th year. Sure, you can argue that John’s, Lombardi’s, DiFara’s, Patsy’s, Grimaldi’s… well, all of the classics…. have been at war for decades. But it was when the onslaught of Neapolitan pizza joints flooded the city when the official “war” began. Deep dish? Not in this town.

Let’s look at some history.

Mario introduced OTTO years ago and won critical acclaim for out-of-the-ordinary single-plate pies…. that is, to the NY palate. His gamey, sometimes fishy, always chewy ingredients are an acquired taste for some, which left his shop on the outside looking in. Maybe it’s his cheese condiment and Italian wine selection that keeps the place packed… but it’s not for award-winning pizza.

Then came the neoliths.

I too was on the neo-craze when shops like Motorino and Kesté opened their doors… and they make a good product (if not “too” good, thank you extra charred crust). It seemed then that the days of a regular slice form Ray’s was a thing of the past and that other than the tourist trade; the regular slice was just about dead. Pretty soon…Donatella, Eataly, Olio… well, a lot of them moved in. There was smoldering crust from Brooklyn to the Bowery. I’d love to be in the wood-burning pizza oven business. But that said… as all of them make a quality pizza…. they can now bow to the king.

Pizza Roma.

For those of you like I who have spent a great deal of time of the streets of Rome, Italy, you know this pizza. It’s light and airy, with an unmistakable crunch. It’s rectangle in shape and it usually cut with a pair of scissors. It flies into a hot over for a quick reheat, then onto a napkin for fast consumption. This my friends, is roman style pizza…. and the pizza at Roma Pizza of Bleeker is the best pizza in New York City. Period. (Who would have guessed their other outlet would be in Barcelona?)

I had been waiting for months for this store to open and find it’s legs before I made my trek down to the West Village… but today was the day. I couldn’t wait any longer.

As I approached the store, I could see the unmistakable sign of a true roman pizzeria… the long counter of perfectly baked square pizzas… with an aroma that could knock you down.

It was so reminiscent of Rome, I had to rub my eyes. The thin sliced zucchini, margherita, crostino with prosciutto, soppressata, potato and rosemary… good lord, where to begin?

After a moment of composing myself, I pointed at the potato and rosemary and asked for a slice. At $3.50, what you really get is a giant piece, quickly warmed to a crunchy crisp and sliced in two.

When it arrived in the cozy backroom, it was resting on a piece of paper, over a wooden tray. Perfect.

The pizza? Well, hard to put into words. They allow the dough to rest 96 hours at Pizza Roma, which no doubt gives the crust an airy, delicate consistency. It’s almost pastry like when it arrives at the table, and the toppings are just the right temp.

There is a freshness to the cheese that is unmistakable… an attribute that other than crust, can really distinguish one pizza place from another. There is an unmistakable flavor when cheese is freshly grated… as to cheese that arrives in a bag. The freshness of the ingredients with the perfect buttery crust is what makes the Pizza Roma slice, the best pizza in the city.

This pizza can be enjoyed a few ways… by the slice, and by the pie.

If you plan to eat in or take out, Roma offers 2 sizes of “square” pies, that can be baked to order, with just about any ingredient they carry.

Additionally, there is a great boutique wine selection available, with a few other dishes (salads, lasagna, etc) that looked terrific.

Sure, making the statement about NYC’s best pizza is a big one… but I’ve done it. I’ll challenge anyone to find a better tasting, more satisfying slice.

I guess the question is, which slice will you declare the winner?

259 Bleecker St, New York 10014
(At Cornelia St

Major Credit Cards

Mon-Thu: 9am-11pm
Fri-Sun: 10am-12am

Lunch, Dinner

Thursday, February 03, 2011


Like Italian Markets?? Prepare to be overwhelmed.

Not just overwhelmed..... blown away.

Eataly, the see it all, shop it all, eat it all Italian destination headed by Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich isn’t just an ordinary Italian market…. it’s simply the greatest Italian market in America.

Back in the day, it was Balducci’s. I can remember trips to New York when my entire itinerary would be planned around trips to Balducci’s.... and I would always have the cab stop on my way to the airport to stuff a grocery bag full of goodies for the flight home.

But if Balducci’s was small and cozy… Eataly is Costco.

It’s so large, it takes nearly an hour just to get a feel for the place. Forget shopping. The space itself is so vast, you need time to get your bearings before you can really do some damage.

What makes it great?

Well, rule number one. Don’t open an Italian market unless the stuff is from Italy.

Not only are the items for sale (with the exception of a few sausages that Uncle Sam won’t allow in) from Italy…. cookies, pasta, tomatoes, sauces, truffles, chocolates, cheeses, etc…. many of the people in the store have made the trip over as well. And if you need cash?.... well the ATM machine is Italian, too.

How authentic? Take for instance, the pizza makers. Sitting at the bar watching chewy, thin crust pizzas fly into the wood burning oven is awesome…. but even better when you hear your pie maker practicing his English on the customers.

But what I love most about Eataly, is the ability to actually eat.

Most of the time, I wander into these places so hungry, I over shop. At Eataly, you can park at one of many destinations and nosh. This can save you big time at the cash register.

At La Piazza, the stand and snack enoteca, you can order artisan salumi and cheeses while leaning on tall marble tables. Paired with a glass of wine and you have the perfect snack to take the edge off.

At Il Pesce? A raw bar and fish house that serves daily seafood specials. Le Verdure focuses on local produce and fresh entrees.

La Pizza and Pasta makes arguably some of the finest pies in the city, and the pastas are rich and al dente, a true Mario signature. Both are terrific.

Of course, there is the desert hall, gelato bar, bakery, coffee house, butcher shop, wine store, produce market, house wares shop and culinary educational center…. but there’s not enough time or space to gush how terrific they all are.

The only negative here can be the crowds. This is a place you don’t want to pop into at noon on a Saturday. Weekdays are much better, and late lunches can reveal tables without a wait.

The other negative (to some) will be the prices. While somewhat inflated, the truth is that many of the items for sale here just can’t be purchased anywhere else. So as you see your bill climb, remember that a flight to Rome would cost you a tad bit more. By the time I got my groceries home, my mouth was watering so badly I just didn’t care anymore.

My advice. Go. Eat. Revel. Enjoy. New York is lucky to have such an amazing artisanal destination…. so grab your credit card and have a ball.

Carpé Diem!

200 Fifth Avenue
(at 23rd Street)
New York, NY 10010
Phone Number: 212-229-2560