Maybe it was the by-the-foot pricing, or maybe the exotic toppings that include pumpkin-and-pancetta but not classic New York sauce-and-cheese. For whatever reason, it took a while for hounds to grok the slightly upscale Roman-style pizza at Pala on the Lower East Side. Now, six months after it opened, the place seems to be gaining a following.

Fans love its light, crispy yet chewy crust, which it approaches with high seriousness. “Our waiter went into a spiel about the multiple flours used, the high water content of the dough, and the owner’s Ph.D. in chemistry,” says Sanjay. “I don’t know if that’s what does it, but it sure is a great crust!” Among the toppings, winners include the Arrabbiata (cherry tomatoes, garlic, hot pepper), Medillanum (asparagus, Gorgonzola, fior di latte mozzarella), Forza Roma (roasted peppers and mozzarella), and Ubraico (pancetta, mozzarella, wine-cured goat cheese), which delivers “a whirlwind of flavors and an absolute euphoric experience,” raves suzie bauer.

“If you are looking for the typical New York slice, this is not the place,” she adds. “The pies are oblong, and most slices are squares except for the corners of the pie. A slice is about the size of a Sicilian, except it is not as thick and doughy–a major plus, in my opinion.” Dissenters find prices high and the crust low on flavor.

A few blocks south, Ronald’s sounds like a nice neighborhood joint for thin-crust pies. “Darn good!” exclaims Wingman. “Very fresh ingredients and a fairly crispy crust. Thankfully there is an option for delivery on the Lower East Side!” The crust carries the smoky scent of the wood-burning oven, says adam, who likes his topped with sausage and fresh ricotta.

Beyond pizza, this successor to the now-defunct New Sicca’s at Allen and Rivington offers a traditional menu of salads, appetizers (fried calamari, soup, stuffed baked clams), chicken and veal entrees (francese, Marsala, piccata), and more. adam reports nicely done pastas and a standout caesar salad with just enough anchovy kick.

Pala Pizza Romano [Lower East Side]
198 Allen St., between Houston and Stanton, Manhattan

Ronald’s Pizza Cafe [Lower East Side]
74 Orchard St., between Broome and Grand, Manhattan

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