And the almost best pizza in Manhattan is...
Whahuh? Naples 45 is big, generic-looking airplane hangar of a restaurant in midtown, catering mostly to midtown office workers' lunches. It's owned by Restaurant Associates, which is a big conglomerate that owns a bunch of mostly mid-tier restaurants. So why is anyone going to believe me when I say that they have incredible pizza? They're not. And that's fine, as there will be more pizza for me.
How do they pull this off you ask? It's all right there on the menu: they do their best to pretend they're making pizza in Naples. And that's a good friggin' start if you ask me.
Here are some facts, according to the menu:
- Their pizza is certified by the Vera Pizza Napolentana, which is some sort of organization hell-bent on making sure people are creating pizza to strict Neapolitan standards, which is fine by me.
- They use Caputo flour, which is widely accepted as the best flour for Neapolitan-style pizza (and I believe it has the VPN's stamp of approval).
- They use San Marzano tomatoes (the VPN is down with SM).
- Only Fior di latte mozzarella for Naples 45. (nice)
- The chemical and mineral composition of the water they use closely matches that of the water in Naples (insane).
- The wood-burning ovens were bought in Italy (who cares where they were bought, but at least they're burning wood)
I'm not sure if all of that silliness matters, but what does matter is the fact that the pizza is delicious. The crust is chewy and nicely charred from the ovens. In fact, on its own, it's better than most any bread I've had (and that's more than half the battle with good pizza). The cheese is milky and fresh. The sauce is bright and flavorful. The whole damned package is just beautiful, and well worth the 15 or so dollars.
They've got about 15 or so somewhat interesting Italian wines by the glass, which is more than I can say for just about every other Italian restaurant in NYC. Bonus.
Another bonus is the outdoor seating, including a bar, which is off of the street. While 45th street doesn't get a lot of sun during the day, the space is open and airy. And when they close off 45th street because of nonsense at the hotel down the block, or for security reasons at the nearby post office, you're in for a real treat out there: quiet, expansive, and some super pizza.
200 Park Ave at E. 45th (it's on 45th behind the Met Life building) : New York, NY : 10166 : Website