You don’t need to be a foodie, nor a slave to the internet’s ubiquitous review venues to know that the New York food scene, especially in its current recession-ridden guise, is being held hostage to an artisan pizza craze. Not that I’m not for it. I love pizza. I’ve been making my own pizza dough since I was thirteen, and continue to experiment and come up with new pizza recipes. Heck I even have my own pizza-column after all!
Back to the wild fire spreading pizza fad: I’m so glad that the city still has places where you can enjoy gloriously good, authentic Neopolitan style pizzas without the hyper-inflated, celebrity-status vying pizza-chef egos and hoardes of self-professed trend-setting yelpers twittering away their reactions and the deafening din they produce. La Pizza Fresca Ristorante is one of those rare places in Manhattan.
Located on a quiet Gramercy block, La Pizza Fresca delivers genuine Neopolitan pizzas and a full menu of Italian pastas and entrees in an elegant subdued space. The romantic lighting, tasteful floating white rose table vases, exposed brick, soft music make it a lovely low-key choice for an intimate dinner. Depending on who you choose to dine with, you’ll be able to have the marvelous experience of being able to hear your dinner partner here.
On to the pizza: The pizza crust is divine. Midly charred on the bottom and with puffy edges the pizza primavera that I ordered was handsomely rugged looking. The crust was neither cracker-thin, nor riddled with air-bubbles. Rather it was perfectly crispy with a light balanced density and was fluffy, yet subtly chewy on the inside. What sealed the deal for me on the crust was the wild smoky flavor of the wood-fired oven, which is so typical of Naples, in which it was baked.
The topping: The primavera vegetables consisted mainly of cubed, grilled eggplant and zucchini were sweet and not the least bit watery. The tomatoes were fleshy, densely flavored and unmistakably San Marzano. While tomatoes were outstanding, the crowning aspect on the toppings were the generous dots of the first-rate bufala mozzarella. They were light, milky and sweet.
The pizza size is perfectly filling for one person, and can easily be shared as an appetizer. While the $16 pricetag is neither a bargain, nor egregiously expensive for NYC, the taste and ambiance and Pizza Fresca completely justifies the cost.
Wines by the bottle and the glass come in good selections and are priced moderately. Wine pours are cheerfully generous for Manhattan standards. If dining in the warm-weather months, try and secure a table close to the glass doors. Hopefully meterological mercy will take sway over New York and a warm pleasant breeze will enhance your eating pleasures.