19 June, 2011

New York - pizza

I'm sometimes surprised at how habitually SG and I eat pizza when we're away. We make it and/or order it at least once a week when we're at home but even so, whenever we're travelling, it comes up on the food menu pretty quickly.

We tried three pizzas in New York. We started on our first night, languishing under the burden of jetlag and envying the rest of the city their enthusiasm for Friday night. We ate at Benito II, in Little Italy. It was hardly a little out-of-the-way find, but walking was tough enough, let alone hunting down and discerning between restaurants.

We got their primavera pizza, offering seasonal vegetables, which turned out to be broccoli, mushrooms, and beans. Green beans. Not a toppping I'd seen on a pizza before. The topping choices were weird, but the base and the overall dish were fine. The base was thicker and crispier than we're used to, and quite biscuity.

Two Boots pizza was a food option I'd noted from a random article in the New York Times I'd read months before eating. We came across an outlet in the food court beneath Grand Central Terminal, and a slice each provided the perfect snack/dinner before heading for a late-night visit to the Empire State Building.
This is their pepperoni and mushroom pizza, and for ready-sliced pizza in a public transport food court it was pretty darn good. Much more in the thinner, floppy-base style than the other pizzas we tried while away. Two Boots are all over the city - worth checking on the basis of this sample.

Across Thompson St from our apartment was Arturo's, clearly something of a Greenwich Village institution. Customers spilled out to the sidewalk tables every night, and the sounds of live music and carousing from the inside bar and restaurant slipped through the door with the constant coming and goings. A New York ingenue, who could have been anything from 16 to 30, perched on a railing outside the door and guided customers to their preferred type of table with precision - heavens forfend another staffer seat anyone or bring them menus.

Their pizzas, despite our hostess' assertions that they were the 'best in Manhattan', really weren't that good, to my taste. They weren't bad, they were just in that older, thicker-based style that doesn't get served up in many pizzerias or trattorias round these parts. The meat didn't seem to be anything special, the cheese was just cheese (though not as oily as you get out here, at least). They're big on the coal-fired oven over there, and I don't know if that's imparting less distinction to the dough and toppings.

What was most notable about our meal at Arturo's was the arrival of this fire engine. It clanged past, then braked and deadset reverse parked right in front of the restaurant. It made enough noise that the boutique-dressed and coiffed lady next to us, who hadn't disengaged from her iPhone to talk to her partner or partake in ordering food, had to head round the corner to continue her conversation. Six firies jumped down from the truck and headed in for a slice of pie.

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