Danny Meyer’s Marta Serves Roman Pizza With a New York Touch

3 Slices
Martha Washington Hotel
29 East 29th Street
New York, N.Y. 10016
212-651-3800

“We made a mess…” I said as the waitress cleared the table. Two pizzas and several crumbs later, Chris Bonanos my editor friend and I unapologetically brushed any leftover remains to the floor and continued talking smart advertising, faulty CMSs and Billy Joel’s greatest hits.

The Roman-style pizza was crispy and its cracker-crust nicely charred so you got a tasty mouthful of the wood-burning oven which ran a nice flavor contrast to the fresh toppings. We settled on a classic Margherita ($13) since we both happen to be in agreement that “less is more,” a time-tested pizza belief I subscribe to. It was not a mistake. The tomatoes burst with flavor, balanced by the perfect proportion of cheese. For the second pie we had the Salsiccia with pork sausage, cremini mushrooms and pecorino ($17). It was a bit salty as you might expect a sausage pie layered with pecorino to be, but that’s where the wine comes in. The flavor combo proved addictive and was a smart choice considering the thinness of the crust. (As The Times put it, “Marta’s crusts are even thinner than what we think of as thin.”) A more filling topping is almost necessary to fill you up and we effortlessly left not even one slice on our plates.

Shockingly though, despite the thinness of the crust, each slice proved as supportive as the next. Sausage and mushrooms aside, the crust held the test of several slow bites among conversation that could have caused the support to waver. An impressive thing when other pizza makers can’t strike the right balance between thin crust yet a strong enough base to hold even weightier, adventurous toppings like potatoes, guanciale and pecorino.

If you’re open to wandering into unfamiliar territory, this Roman-style pizza is certainly worth a try and there are plenty of salads and starters to turn your pizza venture into an even more sophisticated dinner. Pizza, in the Roman tradition, was meant to be a snack after all!

Meyer’s menu also includes heartier dishes like beef short rib, beer-brined half chicken or lamb chops, more reminiscent of his Shack Shake roots. The setting itself is far different from his burger joints though. Located in the Martha Washington Hotel, just off the lobby, it feels a bit impersonal and unimpressive until you spot the custom-built wood-burning grill which Meyer claims can cook an entire fish in two minutes. But it’s not about speed here; It’s about that crisp, supportive pizza crust.

It won’t crumble, but you can trust there will be crumbs.

— Jamie Miles

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