Pizza and Pasta from “Pizza Mezzaluna”

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“Pizza Mezzaluna” has just celebrated its fourth anniversary of being in business on Houston Street in New York City. Located conveniently next to an Italian butcher shop, this quaint Neopolitan restaurant features a brick-oven in the front of the store for the most authentic pizzeria experience possible. Augmented by a selection of fresh pastas, owners (and husband and wife) Francesco Vitale and Lili Chu have created an experience that feels equally as authentic as their food.

With a marble-top bar by the ovens and a small but cozy seating arrangements, highlighted by actual “mezza luna” cutters hanging all over the walls, “Pizza Mezzaluna” has been reviewed by others as flying under the radar. I can attest to this, as I have come back many times after this review (spoiler alert) and have never seen the place too crowded. This is a tragedy, as you will read, since this might be one of the area’s best kept secrets in such a busy restaurant area.

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Starting with the traditional basics, the Pizza Margharita ($14 for a 12″ pizza and $20 for 16″) had a lovely char on the crust and bottom, while retaining a lightness and fluffiness to the interior. Their slightly tangy and sweet sauce goes great with the pure tasting bufala mozzarella, dabbed with fresh basil leaves to add freshness.

On additional visits, I have had this with toppings, specifically their grilled vegetables. This thin crust is still strong enough to hold up to grilled veggies without breaking apart, and I also recommend the lovely Pizza Bianca, which comes with mozzarella, fontina, prosciutto, arugula, and fresh tomato on top.

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The vegetarian-friendly Penne Bisanzio ($13) reminds me of another Italian dish, Ziti alla Telefono. So much so that when I tell people about it, I can not help but call it by the wrong name. The “telefono” part of the title comes from how the cubes of mozzarella cheese form strings that reminded old-country Italians of telephone wires. This penne dish does the exact same thing, and combines eating pasta with the fun part of eating pizza – the melty bits of cheese that seem to never stop stretching.

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Rigatoni con Polpettine ($15) is your classic take on spaghetti and meatballs, but in this dish, we get the tubular pasta with veal meatballs. Rigatoni is one of my favorite pasta shapes, cooked perfectly al dente, and is excellent here at absorbing and holding this wonderfully thick and meaty sauce. The veal meatballs are tender inside and firm on the outside, very flavorful and a great dish all around. My only complaint about this and the other pasta dishes I have tried are simply that the portions are very small, not just leaving me wanting more, but also still hungry.

“Pizza Mezzaluna” has been favorably reviewed by many critics and it is easy to see why. Fresh ingredients, both local and imported, used to make amazing pizza and pasta dishes in an intimate and friendly environment. I highly recommend a trip to this restaurant, especially because I want them to celebrate many more anniversaries beyond their fourth one this year. After you eat there, I believe you will want that to happen as well.

Pizza Mezzaluna” is located at 146 West Houston Street, between MacDougal and Sullivan, and is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

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