Martina, the Shake Shack of Pizzas, in East Village

There are a lot of restaurants that want to be the Shake Shack or Chipotle of something. And why not? It’s clearly a concept that works–make a few things really well, do it very quickly and price it relatively low, a winning formula that brings in the crowds and generates the type of turnover that rakes in the dough. So it’s not surprising that Danny Meyer is going to try to replicate his Shake Shack success elsewhere, this time in the world of pizzas, with the opening of Martina, a fast-casual pizzeria in the East Village.Read More

Artisanal Pizza in Hoboken at Dozzino

Someone once described Hoboken to me as the “urban Jersey Shore.” Needless to say, that conjured up a pretty unflattering image of a bunch of bros fist pumping to cheesy electronic music in the clubs of downtown Hoboken. But where there are guidos there are Italian restaurants, and Hoboken is home to some very good ones. Michele Spiezia, our awesome, fearless leader at Bespoke App, took us to one of the better ones, an artisanal pizza restaurant called Dozzino. Their gourmet, wood-fire oven pizzas were pretty incredible, putting them in close company with some top-notch places like Pizzeria Paradiso in DC or Delfina in SF.

The rustic, farm-to-table interior was nicely done and comparable to the many cute, charming greenmarket eateries that you find in the West Village somewhere. There were no signs of tacky Jersey decor in this tasteful restaurant–perhaps this description of Hoboken needs to be revisited! There is seating both inside and outside and a BYOB policy, which is great since a wine store is just around the corner. We shared a chilled bottle of white and ordered the house salad and several crostinis for starters, as well as three different pies for the main course. My philosophy on pizza ordering is that you have to get a traditional pie as well as something interesting that you can’t get anywhere else. We settled on the traditional cheese, tomato and basil “La Pizza” pie, as well as two pies on their specials menu, the “Johnny Bismark” and the “Honey Pie.” The Johnny Bismark consisted of cheese, prosciutto and egg, and the Honey Pie had mascarpone cheese, local bee’s honey and prosciutto. I think that order definitely fulfilled the traditional and interesting criteria.

I wasn’t expecting that much from the crostini, but they were surprisingly good. The crostini bread, which is made in house every morning, was perfectly toasted, and a bite into it yielded a great, springy texture. The slices of mortadella and prosciutto were simple but effective, and the special “Garbonzzino” crostini topping of organic garbanzo beans, rosemary and garlic, was particularly well-done.The house salad was light and refreshing but pretty standard.

Dozzino - garbonzzino crostini
the “garbonzzino” crostini
Dozzino - mortadella and prosciutto crostini
crostini with mortadella and prosciutto

And on to the pies…there are two very simple criteria for judging a pizza pie, in my opinion: crust and toppings. I liked the taste of the wood-fire crust at Dozzino, especially around the edges. It had that bubbly, chewy quality and some great char that you get at places like Motorino. A really good crust is one you would willingly eat on its own without toppings, and Dozzino checks the box on that, as indicated by my failed low-carb efforts to leave the crusts alone. My only complaint was that the interior was slightly too thin and floppy, but overall, the crust was solid. 

In terms of the toppings, Dozzino is better at inventive, artisanal offerings than more traditional ones. The La Pizza was good, but it didn’t stand out. I didn’t crave another slice, which is what usually happens when I eat a really amazing margherita slice. The two specialty pies, on the other hand, were outstanding, especially the Honey Pie, my personal favorite. The subtle use of locally sourced honey paired really nicely with the saltier flavors of the prosciutto and crust, and the mascarpone further blended and refined the appealing sweet-salty combination. I’m always a big fan of decadent egg and cheese pizzas, and the Johnny Bismark was no different, although I thought the egg yolk could be runnier and perhaps a richer, softer cheese could have been used to blend everything more, but these are immaterial criticisms.

i am so sweet on the honey pie
i am so sweet on the honey pie
Dozzino - the Johnny Bismark
the johnny bismark – armed with egg and prosciutto

And totally random and unexpected, but the coffee here is really good–a great way to recover from the carb coma!

Dozzino - house cappuccino
who needs starbucks when you have dozzino?

I never hear about the pizza scene in New Jersey since it totally gets overshadowed by so many of the heavy hitters in New York, but Dozzino definitely deserves some recognition for its artisanal pies. I know for some people going to New Jersey sounds like a huge inconvenience, but the ride on the Path train is actually really quick. It’s sort of how we think Brooklyn is really far, but it’s only two stops on the L train (yes, I’m guilty of this all the time!). And, to address the elephant in the room, I understand that Jersey gets a bad rap in general (“armpit of America” and The Jersey Shore are not flattering references), but there are no signs of Snooki, JWow or their sunburnt posse anywhere at Dozzino, I promise! Definitely worth a visit, and less troublesome than cramming your way into an impossibly crowded and tiny Manhattan neighborhood bistro during peak dining hours.

534 Adams Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 656-6561

Gluten- and Guilt-Free Pizza at Wild

wild restaurant interiorWild is a new pizza restaurant in the West Village that celebrates food in its pure, natural form. The artisanal pizzas served here are made with fresh, seasonal ingredients that “have been harvested with respect to their primitive state.” Not only is the pizza freshly made with wholesome ingredients, but the delicious signature crust is gluten-free and vegan friendly. Who knew letting loose at Wild could be so tasty and guilt-free?

The term wild might suggest a lower level of refinement, but this certainly isn’t the case at Wild, which is run by a highly seasoned staff to ensure smooth preparation and execution. Fearless entrepreneur and restaurateur Miki Agrawal describes the Wild concept as an elevation, in which all aspects of the restaurant operate at a high level. She’s enlisted the help of classically trained chef Nicholas Porcelli, who competed on the TV show Chopped, to bring a refined quality to the food, and she has also recruited staff members with blue-chip hospitality backgrounds for front-of-house operations. Even the whole Wild concept was the carefully cultivated brainchild of Zachary Lynd, a graduate of the School of Visual Arts with an impressive resume in branding. The ingredients may be wild, but the execution certainly is not.

Wild gives off a comfortable and casual vibe befitting of a neighborhood restaurant. The exposed brick and hanging lanterns of vintage bulbs and jars certainly emphasize the rustic, community aesthetic. The inclusive community spirit at Wild extends to its food options as well. Omnivores, vegans, vegetarians, celiacs–there’s something for everyone here. Can’t eat cheese? Order the amazing vegan version of the ricotta truffle pizza. Like meat but can’t tolerate gluten? Try a serving of the deliciously spicy, sweet capicola pie. No one gets left out in enjoying delicious food. I personally fell in love with the irresistible blend of sweet and savory flavors in the pear gorgonzola.

hanging, rustic lanterns at wild
hanging, rustic lanterns at Wild
half sweet capicola (left) and half pear gorgonzola (right)
sweet capicola (left half) and pear gorgonzola (right half)

If you don’t feel like pizza, there are plenty of salads and vegetable dishes that are just as delicious. The brussel sprouts four ways was a personal favorite–dipping the lovely browned bits of charred leaves into a light layer of bacon crème freche was quite addicting. The butternut squash and whipped goat cheese was also delicious, and I enjoyed the nice, crunchy texture provided by the pistachios.

brussel sprouts four ways
brussel sprouts four ways
butternut squash
butternut squash

And of course, the company of good friends and great pizza should be enjoyed over some drinks. Philip Brock of Wild has carefully curated a drinks menu consisting of seasonal and local wine and beer selections, and also plans to introduce some inventive beer cocktails. I had a chance to try the ginger lemonade he mixed that day, a delightfully refreshing blend of muddled ginger, thyme and Witte, a wheat ale from upstate brewery Ommegang. The beer cocktail offerings should be very promising If this experimental ginger lemonade is any indicator. Wild also plans on launching Sangria Sundays as well as brunch service in the next three weeks. Brunch is such a treasured New York tradition, how perfect would it be to spend it sharing a pitcher of seasonal sangria with a delicious savory egg pizza?

ginger lemonade beer cocktail
ginger lemonade beer cocktail

When Max in Maurice Sendak’s childhood classic Where the Wild Things Are followed the monsters to their natural habitat, he embarked on a magical adventure that celebrated a community inclusive of all beasts. Wild guides diners on a similar journey in which people of all diets and palates can collectively appreciate the inventive creations put forth by Agrawal’s team.

535 Hudson St.
Sangria Sundays and brunch to be launched in a few weeks!
Check out other gluten-free related content with a post on Jennifer’s Way Bakery