I will be the first to admit it– sometimes my pizza obsession can border on being an annoyance. I have this curiosity that makes me question: How was this made? Where do you buy your cheese? What do you think of the flavor? When did you first open? You can witness this in my Artichoke video.
Meanwhile, other times, my sudden extended socialization can be quite entertaining. “How many inches is that?” I asked the table of two men next to us who had just ordered 29” of pizza. I couldn’t help but stare, while my friends who joined me for dinner simply laughed and promised, “I’m never going to dinner with a blogger again.”
Although my friends and I had all planned to have dinner together– what brought us to Numero 28 was actually chance, and a seriously long line outside Angelica Kitchen. My one friend is a vegetarian so rather than make him stuff down greens we all decided to check out a place with more meatless offerings, as long as it was BYOB. But when that fell through, we made the wise decision to get crowd-pleasing pizza. With three bottles for four of us, we ordered two 18” pies with some help from Luigi, our server and co-owner of Numero 28. Luigi advised us that the pizza is ordered by the inch (or by the meter if you are a true Italian) and we are welcome to do half one type, half another– a fantastic suggestion we took him up on. This is an excellent way to try multiple varieties for no additional charge. Not to mention, it is a pizza-lovers’ dream.
A few glasses in and our pizza arrived, stretching across the table making sharing easy. In front of us we had the following:
Tartufo – Mushroom Sautee in Truffle Oil
Pere – Pears, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Walnuts
Diavolo – Hot Soppressata, Red chilli peppers, Mozzarella
Margherita Reginella – Tomato, Mozzarella di bufala, Basil
The pizza looked heavenly, and I’ve never seen a more beautiful table. As passersby drooled jealously, we indulged in wine, pizza, and more wine. The presentation of the pizza was the highlight along with the staff’s amicability and the surprisingly serene setting despite the liveliness of the East Village on a Thursday night. The pizza toppings were all incredibly fresh and the most notable combination was on the pere pizza — an uncommon mix. The crust was an enjoyable thickness– not too doughy but supportive, crispy and well-charred thanks to the wood burning oven. Luigi told me only two of the pizzerias’ four locations have wood burning ovens, and at these locations pizza is only sold as 14”, 18”, or 29” since individual slices would get “mushy” due to too much oxygen exposure.
The sauce on this pizza was very fresh– as with all the ingredients, and not a bit salty or greasy. In my opinion though, the sauce could have used a little something something. The most identifiable flavor in each bite was resonating from the smoky charred crust rather than the sauce or toppings. Maybe they could tone down the char– it could have even been a fluke thanks to extra minutes in the oven– or they can tone up the herbs.
When I asked Luigi what makes this pizza different from other pizza, he responded unusually. “The love,” he said. “My brother makes the pizza.”
Luigia and his brother originated from Italy and started the New York chains themselves. They are also responsible for supplying many other pizzerias throughout the city with fresh Italian olive oil including Keith McNally’s Pulino’s. (More behind their olive oil business in a later post!)
Overall, Numero 28 really does offer something that other pizzerias just can’t nail: A glimpse of Italian heart, hospitality and homemade pizza. Bring friends or make some there.