Dates can often be awkward. Luckily, this date was not your average date, rather my friend Cassie and I made plans to grab dinner and head to see the documentary Bill Cunningham New York. (A must-see!)
We headed to Bleecker St. after work where there are an overwhelming number of fantastic pizzerias, the most well-known being John’s Pizza and Bleecker St. Pizza— but we have been to both of these before and wanted to try something new. Without regret, we settled on Kesté. As we walked in we were given the only open table for two- already a good indication of Keste’s popularity. “Our pizza is life-changing,” our server promised as we were handed menus then he proceeded to sit down next to us and tell us the special pizzas of the night.
Although too camera shy to be recorded reciting the specials (for me to post in this exact write-up), he happily posed with Cassie and I. Our new friend, Davide, worked at the restaurant since it opened two years ago (March 29) — and is originally from outside of Venice. As he promised, the pizza was in fact life-changing. So much so that Cassie went back with her family a few weeks later to share the experience with them.
One warning– ordering was difficult. When every pizza’s description makes your mouth water, you know you can’t go wrong. The only challenge is limiting yourself to one. Cassie ordered the Pizza Del Re with fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, prosciutto di parma, extra virgin olive oil and truffle spread. The truffle oil was unlike anything either of us had ever tasted. It was thick, almost like an Alfredo sauce. At one point Cassie even was scraping the oil off the crust with a fork in order to savor the flavor alone. Heavenly.
I ordered the Kesté pizza: tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, arugula, gran cru and extra virgin olive oil. My pizza was drool-worthy as well, and Cassie and I ended up arguing over whose pizza was better. Ultimately, she decided hers was the better of the two, but I’m still undecided. When you struggle determining which pizza is tastier, it’s a great problem to have.
The pizzas were pricey, at $19 a 12-inch pie, but worthwhile. The crust was perfectly charred in the brick oven which was crafted by artisans flown in from Naples (no joke) so it would meet the standards of Neapolitan pizza-making. The crust was doughy, not crispy, but delicious. The prosciutto was very thinly sliced so it was easy to bite into and did not overwhelm the other flavors. At first glance, we thought we would be taking leftovers– but we just kept eating until the pizzas were gone. I took one small sliver to go which I carried around with me for the rest of the night, then ended up eating on the train ride home. I couldn’t wait any longer.
As we left, happy and very well-fed, we passed a line out the door of guests waiting for a coveted table. Davide maintained a smile despite pressure from waiting patrons and he wished us a lovely night with hopes to see us again. Cassie returned sooner than later and our friend Davide remembered her. The Pizza Del Re was good enough to get twice, and she prided herself once again on ordering without making any substitutions. For even the pickiest eater, Kesté has something that will (repeatedly) please.