New York: Concrete Jungle Where [pizza] Dreams are Made Of

One habit that I strive to maintain while living in the States is to continue to explore my surroundings. Whether it be a simple expedition, like finding a new trail in the Pennypack nature reserve in my backyard, or a more sizable one, such as a weekend trip to a city that I have not yet visited on the East coast, I spend my free time discovering new places. I’m one of those people who require mini-adventures to break up my daily routine.

I’ll have to admit, over the past few years, I haven’t fully taken advantage of the proximity of Philadelphia to New York City. Now that I have a bunch of friends who live in the concrete jungle, I made the trip a priority. The hour and a half train ride makes it completely doable to take a quick overnighter from the City of Brotherly Love.

You instantly feel the energy of NYC as you step off the train. Keeping up with the fast pace is not optional; that’s what makes the urban playground so exciting. There’s always something new to stumble upon in the cultural and financial hub of the world.

My favorite activity in any city is tasting the local gastronomy. As expected in America’s largest metropolis, you can get any type of cuisine, at any time. Yet, when I think of New York, I think of pizza. The greasy, cheesy, crusty, mouth-watering goodness is perfect in all shapes and sizes. Within the 24 hours that I was in New York, I easily consumed two pies, slices combined, to myself.

I started my Saturday night with a sampling of ‘za from Forcella, a hidden gem. It was the only restaurant that could accommodate a group of 7 on a busy December weekend evening. Not making a reservation earlier in the week turned out to be a fortunate mistake.

The slick black tables and bright red accent lights made it feel more like a swanky club than an Italian restaurant.  However, when the big-bellied, smiley waiter greeted us with buona sera, I had a sense that the place was legit. I attempted to reply with some basic Italian phrases to test his authenticity and he giggled at my mediocre skills. He told me where his family originated from in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, so after that, I expected some epic pies.

Fetty Wap and Justin Bieber bumped as we enjoyed the Neapolitan pizza and a few bottles of Pinot Grigio. Though the ambiance was atypical, the pizza tasted like it came straight out of a century old, timeworn brick oven in a small Italian village. We tried the traditional Margherita, which was perfectly made - a swirl of San Marzano tomato sauce, large gooey dots of mozzarella, and a few pieces of shriveled basil complemented the paper thin, slightly burnt, yet also fluffy crust. We also tasted the Decumani, a white version topped with bufala mozzarella, a tinge of truffle oil, bunches of spicy arugula and a generous sprinkling of pecorino cheese.  The star of the night was the Porta Capuana; also a non-sauced pie, but this one layered with creamy burrata and cured prosciutto in addition to the arugula and pecorino.

Of course we HAD to get more pizza late night to soak up the many beers we downed. I had been dreaming of the infamous Artichoke Basille's pizza that my longtime mate described as her strongest craving while living her antipodean life. Oh. my. gawd. did it live up to my expectations. The 30 person line, albeit at 3 am, was worth the wait. We opted for the eponymous artichoke pizza, which starkly contrasted to the ones we consumed earlier in the night. The crust was thick enough to support the slathering of salty, buttery, spinach and artichoke cream that rested on top. It’s everything that you would want in a drunk pizza, but in my opinion, may be a bit over the top for sober eats.

What are your favorite pizza joints in the Big Apple?

xx Kat