Elizabeth Gilbert writes in her (in)famous “Eat, Pray, Love” memoir about the best pizza in Naples’ Pizzeria da Michele:
“The dough, it takes me half my meal to figure out, tastes more like Indian naan than like any pizza dough I ever tried. It’s soft and chewy and yielding, but incredibly thin. I always thought we only had two choices in our lives when it came to pizza crust - thin and crispy, or thick and doughy. How was I to have known there could be a crust in this world that was thin and doughy? Holy of holies! Thin, doughy, strong, gummy, yummy, chewy, salty, pizza paradise. On top, there is a sweet tomato sauce that foams up all bubbly and creamy when it melts the fresh buffalo mozzarella, and the one sprig of basil in the middle of the whole deal somehow infuses the entire pizza with herbal radiance, much the same way one shimmering movie star in the middle of a party brings a contact high of glamour to everyone around her.”
Damn. Why haven’t I ever experienced a life-changing revelation like that? Do I really need to book a trip to Naples, Italy, the birthplace of pizza, to experience euphoria or can New York City, a city that has welcomed Italians and its chefs and cooks with open arms, deliver the same gluttonous high? I think it did. And it calls itself Kesté.
Located in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Kesté is a pizza restaurant helmed by world-renowned Neapolitan chef Roberto Caporuscio, who learned the art of making pizza in Naples. If there’s anything that tastes and feels like the famous pizza Gilbert had in Naples, this has to be it.
Zach ordered the Ricotta e Noci, a pizza topped with cream of walnut (walnut paste mixed with cheese), fresh ricotta and mozzarella, pecorino romano, basil, and extra virgin olive oil.
I had the Pistacchio e Salsiccia, topped with fresh pistachio pesto, sausage, fresh mozzarella, pecorino romano, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
Somewhere between my 6th and 7th slice I must of had a face that expressed absolute delight that a manager walked by and gave me a knowing smile, as if to say, “Yeah we know our pizza is good”.
The crust is pillowy soft and doughy yet lacked that tough gumminess you sometimes get with crusts. This is the kind of pizza that makes me want to eat the crust first. I usually equate a fat load of toppings and a long laundry list of ingredients to mean lingering, complex, yet harmonious flavors, but it wasn’t until this pizza dough that I finally “got” how delicious something so simple could be. And talk about technique! All doughs start off as flour, yeast, water, salt, sugar, and oil but it’s incredible how ratios and different ways of preparation can create startlingly different results.