Are you looking for the best pizza in New York City? Well, today’s review takes us to Don Antonio by Starita, which New York Magazine recently named the best pizza in New York. Don Antonio’s signature pizza is the “montanara”, which is made with a made with a crust that’s first deep-fried, then baked in a wood-fired oven. Plus they make pizza for the Pope. With a preview like that, how could I resist?
I was immediately pleased with Don Antonio’s menu. Vegetarian items are marked with a “(V)”, and vegan items (yes, there are vegan items at a pizza place!) are marked with a “(VE)”. There’s even a small gluten-free section.
I started with the caprese. I really wanted to try the homemade burrata, but I was eating by myself and I didn’t think I could (or more accurately, should) eat an entire ball of burrata by myself. The caprese, though, was very good. The mozzarella was fresh and creamy, and the tomatoes very flavorful (though maybe a touch underripe). I did find the mozzarella just a little bland, and adding some salt and pepper did wonders.
I also got the “montanarine” which is basically just a bit of fried dough. For just $1, how could I resist? The montanarine was very good. Although it was fried, it wasn’t heavy, oily or greasy. It was served with a bit of tomato sauce, which was nicely tangy and sweet.
Then the pièce de résistance: the montanara. First of all, the pizza was smaller than I was expecting. Second, though, this did not mean it was any less satisfying. The dough was a study in contrasts: fried, but not greasy; crunchy, but not thin; thick, but not dense. The tomato sauce had a touch of sweetness, and I loved the smoked mozzarella — it really added another dimension to the pizza. I had exactly half of the pizza and half of the caprese, and saved the rest for the next day’s lunch. I’m happy to report it held up quite well and was very good even a day later.
I went back with my family a little while later, and that time, I tried the “Pizza del Papa” — the “Pope’s Pizza”. It’s made with butternut squash, zucchini, roasted peppers, smoked mozzarella, basil and olive oil. This pizza (which is not fried) was also very good. The butternut squash lent a creamy texture to the pizza, and the zucchini — which was really small — added some nice color and flavor. Who knew that the Pope liked a vegetarian pizza? (No picture, sorry.)
All in all, I can see why Don Antonio gets the rave reviews that it does. The pizza is different, delicious and — noteworthy here — vegetarian friendly. I have to say, though the “montanara market” is getting a little crowded. I’m calling it now: 2012 is going to be the year of the fried pizza. In addition to Don Antonio, there’s La Montanara, which opened in March 2012, and they both post-date Forcella, down on the Bowery and in Williamsburg. (Okay, Forcella’s locations opened in 2011, but still.) I’ve yet to check out the other two places, but Don Antonio is definitely a great option if you want to jump on the montanara bandwagon. Oh, and they have great cocktails too!
(No star ratings for more casual places, although I do think this almost counts as a “Frugal Friday” restaurant. I got two full meals for about $25 (plus tax and tip), so roughly $15 per meal, which isn’t terrible.)