Mon Dec 22 2008
Photograph: Jeff Gurwin
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Pizza is and has for a long time been serious business in this town, and while New Yorkers are often prepared to throw down over the supremacy of a slice, the truth is, a lot of it isn’t that good. Fortunately, some restaurants have abandoned corny dough-tossing antics and turned instead to the great Neapolitan pie, which, among other specifications, must be sized for an individual and cooked in a wood-fired oven. The latest of these pizzerias, Motorino, passes the litmus test: Its “DOC” version of the Margherita—the classic combination of tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil—comes straight from the dining room’s glowing masonry oven, with melted islands of buffalo-milk mozzarella on a thin layer of sweet sauce. The crust meets two critical standards: A properly blistered char and a wonderful elasticity that is so often missing from lesser examples. If we were to quibble, the crust could have been airier, and the pie could have used a less generous grating of pecorino romano, which can overpower delicate mozzarella. For bolder palates, the Pugliese features pleasantly bitter broccoli rabe and the no-joke punch of fiery chili peppers. While the pizza is the draw, supporting dishes are also worth a detour: Two oven-roasted artichokes were tender to the core; a half dozen plump baked oysters were enlivened with lemon, chili oil and diced bacon; and the limited dessert menu included a masterful tiramisu with a thick layer of mascarpone cream, and rich, silken gelati. The prideful may be loath to admit it, but New York’s pizza scene just got a little better.