211 1st Ave
(between 12th St & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003
For most people, pizza is usually delivered in a large cardboard box with various 5x5x5 coupons stuck to it. It usually comes at an ungodly hour when there are few options left. This changed for me when I moved to NYC and tried Ovest Pizzoteca, Luzzo’s sister restaurant. I started craving this pie like no other, and would drag people to go with me anytime we wanted to go out for a “nice meal” at an affordable place that is still cool and hip. Unfortunately, Ovest somehow was not able to sustain a consistency and frequently burned their pies so much that I feared for my health and ate only the toppings. LUCKILY, it’s sister Luzzo, is just as good/better really and always consistent.
Both restaurants serve neapolitan style pizzas, which has two main differences that set it apart from “American” Pizza-Hut-Papa-John style pizzas. The first is the texture and thickness of the crust. Luzzo’s pizza is thin and slightly crispy at the bottom, but soft on top. The end crust is very light and fluffy, and almost a little puffy. If you like really crispy thin-crust pizza, I would suggest you check out Posto or Otto because Luzzo’s is nice and chewy. American pizza tends to be thicker and softer all around, hence giving it the ability to fold in half and fit in a frat boy’s mouth in one bite…
The second difference is the ingredients. Real neapolitan pizza boasts few toppings and only the freshest of the freshest ingredients. Simplicity at its finest, really. My favorite Luzzo’s pizza is the Campana, which has tomato sauce, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, shaved parmigiano, and basil.
The roasted cherry tomatoes are like little pockets of fresh tomato juice that burst every lucky bite. I’ve never had AMAZING FRESH mozzarella so I wouldn’t be able to tell you too much but this cheese here tasted like milk and had a very nice bouncy texture. The two leaves of basil that they toss in the center of the pizza is a bit of a tease. Who gets to have the basil? The person with the least shame and grabs it when everyone else is too nice to. Usually me. And my boyfriend, LAW.
The Michele has got to be one of my favorites as well. It boasts mozzarella, prosciutto, mushrooms, and truffle pate. If I’m only getting one pizza, it will for sure be a tomato-based one. But if we are going in a group and I have the leisure of ordering multiple pies, one of them will most likely be this one. The prosciutto is salty and not stringy (hate stringy). The edges are crisp, the same way I like my bacon. Mushrooms have a nice meaty texture. And the truffle pate… gotta love the truffle.
Other than the amazing flavor combinations they have at Luzzo’s, I also LOVE their crust. If I could buy their crust as a bread, I would in a heartbeat and just eat it plain. Maybe with some of their olive oil and chili concoction… It’s doughy and fluffy, almost like a hybrid between a baguette and a bagel. When you have a thin crusted pizza, you gotta pack in some of the carbs somewhere or else you’ll just stay hungry. Good crust is the way to go.
Luzzo-haters have said that they find the pizza not salty enough. I eat pizza so I can taste the tomato, the cheese, the mushrooms, the arugula, the combination of these flavors, not added salt. If you really need a salty pizza, add some anchovies and prosciutto and then tell me if you still think Luzzo stinks. I love that I can actually taste the tomato in the tomato sauce, and not a bajillion herbs and salt.
Now there are tons of fancy shmancy pizza joints in the city that I’m sure are much “cooler” than Luzzo’s. I can imagine a place that serves little squares of neapolitan pizza on tapas dishes… shudder. I am still smitten with Luzzo’s because it uses top-notch ingredients from Naples (apparently) and has wonderful simple combinations that include fun ingredients such as broccoli rabe, ricotta, and speck, while preserving the cozy down-to-earth feeling of simply having a pizza night.
photos of actual restaurant courtesy of Serious Eats