98 Ave B
New York, NY 10009
After playing a couple hours of pretty intense volleyball, a short but tiring game involving a soccer ball, and an hour and 15 minutes of anti-gravity yoga (a story for another time…), LAW and I were starved and so happy to hear that the rest of our crew had already been seated at Gruppo, Posto’s pizza sister located in Alphabet City. When we arrived to join our dinner family, E.C. had already ordered for us. I normally am pretty involved in the ordering process so felt that it was refreshing to have someone else take the lead.
We started with the Strawberries & Pecorino Crostini with toasted ciabatta bread, topped with pecorino cheese, fresh strawberries, fresh basil, and white truffle honey ($9). SO. DAMN. GOOD. Strawberries aren’t in season now so were a bit more tart, which was solved with the delicious truffle honey. The saltiness and creaminess from the cheese gave this crostini a delicious balanced flavor. The fresh basil added a nice herby kick. I am definitely going to make this at home sometime, perhaps with a saltier cheese.
We also had the Crispy Pork Panella with thick slice of panella bread, topped with garlic parmesan butter, spicy bacon, proscuitto crisps, cheese, and basil ($7), served with a rich marinara sauce. I think the ingredients really speak for themselves. I have nothing else to add other than it was gone within seconds.
We ordered four large 16″ pizzas for the five of us. The only one I demanded we have was the Shroomtown ($25 for 16″), which is a delicious shroomy pizza with marinara sauce and cheese, portobellos, shittake, button mushrooms, and white truffle oil. I think this may be the best mushroom pizza out there. Like Posto, the pizzas here are crispy, not floppy and juicy like Luzzo’s. I specifically didn’t call these pizzas “cracker crusts” because Gruppo and Posto both manage to have crispy, thin pizzas that are still chewy when bitten through. It is a skillful feat!
We also had the Parma ($25 for 16″) with marinara sauce and cheese, proscuitto crisps, millionaire bacon, fresh arugula, green apples, and balsamic reduction. E.C. Was really into the whole fruit and savory thing today, which I appreciated. The salty proscuitto crisps and smoky and fatty millionaire bacon almost begged for the tartness and crispness of the green apples. Fresh arugula added a bitterness that was balanced with its perfect partner in crime: balsamic. Definitely an interesting pizza that is a mouthful to handle. A good addition to your usual favorites.
The Fafandone ($24 for 16″) with marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, hot italian sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil was my, and the collective’s, least favorite pie of the night. For me, this is more of a it’s-not-you-it’s-me scenarios. I have always liked the idea of sun-dried tomatoes, mostly because the words “sun” and “tomatoes” just sound good together, but have never actually liked them. They don’t taste like tomatoes at all, are chewy, kind of sour, and waxy… what is the appeal? I would love to love them.
The final pizza is the Salsiccia Dolce ($23 for 16″) with marinara sauce and cheese, sweet italian sausage, caramelized onions, and fresh basil. This is a classic one that we always order when we go to Posto, so also got here. The pizza is overall on the sweet side because of the sweet italian sausage and sweetness from the caramelized onions. All of this is balanced with the basil and marinara. It is a timeless pizza that I will order again and again, along with the Shroomtown.
Based on their websites, Posto and Gruppo have the exact same dinner menu. The owners also own Spunto and Vezzo, which I hear are also similar to Posto and Gruppo. Despite their similarities, I hear that Gruppo is the only sibling in the family that offers a killer happy hour deal: $18 for a large classic pizza (marinara, fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil) with a pitcher of beer.
I think it’s interesting that the owners didn’t choose to create a mini chain and name all their pizza places the same name. It makes each restaurant feel authentic and neighborhoodly.