Marta review

Marta

Marta

When I found out that yet another New York master-chef was about to create his version of yet another pizza joint in a city already so replete with pie options, that our municipal mascot has affectionately become a crusty wedge of pepperoni, I decided to measure the square-footage of my disappointment in advance. I figured that even if Danny Meyer (Mr. Mealtime Midas Touch himself) was able to do to pizzas what he had done to hamburgers with his chain of Shake Shacks, I still couldn’t imagine how much more runway there was to re-invent an 11-inch pizza with a handful of toppings. Couldn’t we all agree that the time has come to focus our culinary attention on a different hangover-curing, post-weed-munchie-satisfying, carb-diet-busting, TV-complimenting snack? Just how many more times does the pizza need to be reborn in our lifetime? Turns out, Marta might very well have been the one we’ve all been waiting for!

MartaThe newest star in the Meyer galaxy is a big, bright and bustling showpiece that isn’t just located in the lobby of the Martha Washington Hotel – it is the lobby. The ultra-high-ceilinged trattoria’s whitewashed walls offer views of 29th street, a voyeur’s mezzanine and a white, marble bar facing the demonstration-style kitchen, under the watchful eye of two inescapably huge, flame-licking, black-tiled pizza ovens.

In addition to a surprisingly affordable all-Italian wine list and an authentic selection of Roman appetizers, salads and entrees, Chef de cuisine Nick Anderer (graciously borrowed from Maialino) has crafted eleven pizzas in two categories: Rosse and Bianche. Heading up the Rosse group is the vanilla of them all, the Margharita Classica (originally made exclusively for Margharita – Italy’s Queen consort – in celebration of the colors of the Italian flag) delectably combining satiny-soft cheese, pungent basil and Mt. Vesuvius lava-sweetened San Marzano tomatoes. As you work your way down, ingredients like house-stretched buffalo mozzarella, anchovies, thyme and sausage are gradually added until we suddenly find ourselves face-to-face with tripe and mint. The tomato-less Bianche group enjoys even more freedom from convention with a wider variety of cheeses, eggs, potatoes, ham, vegetables and white truffles.

Salsiccia - Marta

Salsiccia

When the cracker-crisp, antique-paper-edged pies appear, it’s clear that Anderer has kept his promise about delivering the thinnest crusts in the land – permitting his fresh ingredients to relish unobstructed in the limelight. Never before have I enjoyed morsels of fragrant pork sausage, scattered between freshly sautéed porcinis, with cream oozing (literally) from dollops of mozzarella over a crunchy red crust as I did with the Salsiccia. And I couldn’t help recalling one of Anderer’s signature Maialino breakfasts with the black-peppery Pecorino and eggs as the heart of the Patate alla Carbonara, concealed beneath a delicious layer of soft potato chunks with chewy lardons of smoky guanciale. It felt a bit like walking in on texture, flavor and aroma in the middle an intimate group hug.

Patate alla Carbonara - Marta

Patate alla Carbonara

Ladies and gentlemen, Marta is not just another pizza joint – it’s front-page news!

www.martamanhattan.com

Obicá review

Obicá. The Grand Palace of Mozz

Obicá. The Grand Palace of Mozz

Silvio Ursini is probably not a household name amongst New York foodies, but one of Bulgari’s top creative executives for their Hotels and Resorts division just so happens to have also founded the world’s first Mozzarella bar a decade ago. The concept behind Obika was to create a restaurant around several different varieties of fresh gourmet Mozzarella, milked exclusively from water buffalo in the Campania region of Italy, and thereby earning the much coveted, but seldom seen, “Protected Designation of Origin” certification.

Obicá - Caprese Classica

Caprese Classica

I vividly remember been blown away on my first visit to the bar in Rome’s Parlamento district, by the creamy sweetness of each of the four cheeses, complemented by their feather-soft texture from skin to center. (I should have a penny for every time I’ve had to plough through “so called” Mozzarella di Buffala, that was either tight, runny, hard, crumbly, sour, chalky or ho-hum.)

Ursini’s little idea turned into a global brand with eighteen mozzarella bars worldwide. To celebrate their tenth anniversary, they just opened their newest location and renamed the brand Obicá, which means “here it is” in a Neapolitan dialect. And so if you stand just off the northeast corner of Broadway and 21st, you too can say “Obica!”

Obicá - Bufala Beet Salad

Bufala Beet Salad

The battleship gray, sleek interior with mirrored surfaces and discreet lighting feels more like a Japanese designer boutique than the Grand Palace of Mozz, but the four brine-filled tanks housing the baseball-white puffs of goodness flown in twice a week is unmistakably why the place is so crowded. The “Classica” is what all mozzarella dreams it could be: sweet, smooth, silky, light and ever-so-slightly salty. The almost caramel colored “Affumicata” has a sharp and distinctive hay-smoke bite to it. The “Burrata” is the runnier, cream-centered version of the classic, and it’s brother “Tartufo” is infused with black summer truffles.

Obicá - Bufala in Carrozza

Bufala in Carrozza

You can order them solo, with Salumi or Antipasti, on Bruschetti, deep fried (In Carrozza), on pizzas or in several salads (the Caprese Classica is a cheerful collage of multi-colored tomatoes, and the Beet salad has roasted pine-nuts and string beans for crunch).

Obicá - Pappardelle al Ragú di Anatra e Arancina

Pappardelle al Ragú di Anatra e Arancina

Unlike their lunchtime bar in the IBM building on 56th street, chef Enzo Neri’s menu elaborates way beyond the Mozz to include more substantial dishes like his signature homemade pastas, pizzas, seafood and vegetables. The Rosemary flavored Pappardelle al Ragú di Anatra e Arancina has an incredible Tuscan-style duck ragú spiked with a surprising zest of orange, and the Taglierini di Botarga e Granchio is like an enchantment-under-the-sea dance with a blend of crab ragú with roe from Sardinian mullet, topped with fresh sea-urchins.

Obicá - Ananas Carpaccio

Ananas Carpaccio

The desserts are a very fresh respite from the usual institutional suspects. Three guesses what cheese the Crema de Ricotta comes from…Mmm!

And what better way to walk home than with the crisp and lingering taste of Ananas Carpaccio – X-ray-thin, mint syrup marinated Pineapple slices with lemon sorbet and pink peppercorns.

http://obica.com/