The interior is spacious, with high ceilings, spare exposed brick walls and more space between tables than one would typically find in an East Village establishment. As we were perusing the menu, Martha Stewart left the restaurant, looking exceptional for 70 years old, I should note, and Michael White raced out to bid her adieu. White was clearly in and out of the kitchen all night, and stopped by each table in the place to say thanks and get reactions from the first-night crowd.
|carrozza, or, fried, breaded cheese puck|
But we were just getting started. Our gluttonous asses still had pizza on the way. Our waitress told us that, as the pies were 12", she recommended one per two people. Being the disgusting humans we are, we decided that three was the perfect amount for the three of us. What can I say, it was hard to make a decision since all the pies sounded awesome, so we each chose one, plenty aware that we'd be feasting on leftovers.
The pies are somewhere between a thin crust New York pizza and the thicker, DiGiorno-thickness pies ubiquitous in much of the country. I'd read that White was going for a midwestern bar pie, but these sported a far thicker crust.
The tables are equipped with these rather ingenius metal rods that pop out of the marble and to which the wait staff attaches a metal disc to hold the pizzas. They achieve the dual purposes of 1) not compromising table space and 2) looking awesome.
|side effect of the pizza stands: shadows,|
this photo of the tartufata fell victim to the LoFi effect;
may it rest in peace
We also had the carbonara, with cream, pancetta, pecorino romano, scallions, black pepper, crowned with a runny-yolked egg. This one was Robbie's favorite (though he may have been biased since he ordered it). All of the elements worked well together, and it was at once rich, salty, meaty, and bright. Another winner.
The crust on the pies was great, too, and was a great base for the assertive, high-quality ingredients placed atop them. The pizza arrived to the table a deep golden brown, crusts glistening with a generous coat of oil. The crusts themselves crackled and gave way to a pillowy soft interior breadier than a typical New York slice, but no less awesome because of it. The pies were much thinner in the center, but never approached the drippy-wet interior of a Neopolitan slice. Purists may scoff at these pies, as they can't quite be pigeonholed in a distinct category. I typically like nothing thicker than a New York thin crust, but I can't argue with what Michael White is doing at Nicoletta. Midwestern-New York-Neopolitan-Bar-Whatever the Fuck You Want to Call It style, this is some delicious pizza.
|photo courtesy Kathy YL Chan via Serious Eats|
Edited to add: WHOA! I cannot believe I forgot to talk about dessert. Yes, we somehow also managed to cram some dessert down our greedy little gullets. The dessert menu at Nicoletta focuses around the fior de latte soft serve, which you can get in a float (root beer or fanta) or in a cup with two toppings (or more at an extra charge; we chose whipped cream and chili peanut toffee sauce). The soft serve was a bit icy on our visit, but had the bright, unmistakable flavor of fresh cream. And who gives a shit about a little iciness when there's peanut chili toffee involved? Nobody, that's who. This sauce kicked so much ass that we requested some extra on the side. The waitress probably had to tell us that there would be an extra charge (50 cents, big whoop) for it, lest we get all pissy, but this stuff was like crack, and our order was already so over the top that no up-charge was going to stand in our way at that point. In any event, if you go to Nicoletta (and you should), you owe it to yourself to finish your meal with peanut chili toffee topped fior di latte soft serve. And a root beer float, because damn right we got one of those too, and it was awesome.
160 2nd Avenue (at 10th St.)