Co. is a pizza joint started by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. New Yorkers have about as many opinions about pizza as they do about movies so opening up a new spot is a dangerous proposition. I personally want the pies to be made in a wood burning oven if possible; I want a good crust and a simple, fresh topping. Neapolitan style, Roman style, or new world style are not the point for me. Each slice just has to taste good and have great texture. Co’s pizzas do that.
I’ve been about a dozen times now and I have to say my favorite version is the fennel and sausage with crushed tomato, red onions, chili, buffalo mozzarella and parmesan. It’s nirvana. The crust is chewy with a slight sourdough finish, the Italian style fennel sausage which is blended with crisp sliced fennel is out of this world, I guess you could say I’m addicted to it. The close second is the flambé which is made with béchamel, parmesan, buffalo mozzarella, caramelized onions, and lardons. There are ten other pizzas to choose from but I’ve yet to try them. I do have my eye on the Popeye which the waiters keep telling me is wonderful. It is made with pecorino, gruyere, buffalo mozzarella, spinach, black pepper, and garlic. Next time.
Leahy uses a wood-burning oven and bakes the pizzas at about 700 degrees which gives the crust its bit of char and great flavor. His ingredients are top notch. Though he offers a simple menu besides pizzas such as toast with different toppings and salads and soups, the pizza steals the show. Depending on who is making the escarole salad it can be exquisite; it’s either perfectly dressed with bread crumbs, capers, anchovies, lemon and olive oil, or it is over -dressed and the ingredients struggle to swim to the surface.
Diners should be aware that the oven determines the pace of the restaurant. Sometimes dishes come out tout suite and sometimes they seem to take forever. I can forgive the wait for such fine results just steps away from home.
The wine list is excellent. Pretty much every bottle has a screw cap, which is not a problem for me but when you start paying 13 dollars a glass it might make some people wonder. The list is very well edited and though the wines by the glass are expensive, there is no compromise on quality. So order a bottle and relax. And by the way, the price by the glass is figured on the basis of four glasses to the bottle so you are paying for a quarter of a bottle when you order a glass. Fair enough.
I haven’t had the desserts though the banana split sounds interesting. Actually I did have the chocolate walnut cookie and it was quite good.
The restaurant has communal seating, which I like, though not everyone does. There are also a few seats at the bar. I love the fact that at the bottom of the menu they say “ Our pies are not always round.” I wonder if someone complained. If so, why apologize?
230 Ninth ave
NYC, NY 10011