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Pie: report on new 4th Ave pizza place

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Pie: report on new 4th Ave pizza place

maven | Apr 23, 2003 12:48 PM

Pie garnered some mixed reviews here when it first opened about a month ago, and tastes in pizza are passionately subjective, but my fella and I went last night and had some of the best thin-crust pizza in town.

As reported elsewhere, the pies are stretched into thin oblongs, Roman style; the counterpeople scissor off as large a portion as you like, heat it in an oven, place it on paper plates, and charge for it by the pound. (Costs vary according to the topping, from $5 to $9 per pound.)

The crust was, to our tastes, perfect: thin but chewy -- not pasty or pillowy, not dry, not brittle like a cracker -- with a nice, slight yeastiness.

It was beautifully balanced by the toppings, which had such freshness and flavor that a little went a long way, almost like a seasoning. (One of my peeves is gloppy pizza.) Among the dozens of options, we tried five: the plain mozzarella with tomato sauce as a benchmark, the mushroom, an eggplant-ricotta, prosciutto-ricotta, and bacon. It was all really good. With two drinks, the tab was about $15.

The owner, Jeffrey Reiss, introduced himself and insisted that we try two variations of a banana-Nutella dessert pizza, on the house. One is made with mascarpone (too gloppy, but tasty), the other with ricotta, which was unexpectedly delicious.

My only quibble regarding the food is that nothing is served very warm. Instead of sampling a bunch of things at once, order one piece as you finish another, so it doesn't get too cool.

Now, despite the ambitions behind the pizza, this is a quick-serve, quick-eat pizza place -- not a full-blown restaurant with fancified pies. But Reiss has given a new twist to the neighborhood pizza parlor, with spare, modern decor, friendly service, and high standards of cleanliness. (In fact, my only other complaint is that members of the cleaning staff, in an overzealous if admirable attempt to keep the place immaculate, spritz nasty-smelling cleansers on unoccupied tables adjacent to diners and sweep around your feet as you eat.)

I would love to see Reiss succeed. This is the kind of pizza we've been searching for for years -- and he's brought it right to our neighborhood. The folks at Otto could learn a few things here -- in terms of both quality and value.

Pie is on 4th Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets, in what was Pintaile's Pizza.

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