New York, N.Y. 10001 212-201-4065 When you have really, really good food it tends to reinvigorate you. This past Friday, the pizza at L’Amico did just that. It was a cold, uneventful day yet I was looking forward to lunch with one of my coworkers at Hearst who just so happens to be obsessed with pizza too. (She ate only pizza for a week and lived to tell of it for Cosmo.com). I returned to work for the second half of the day raving about the pizza, with leftovers in tow, feeling like I could conquer just about anything thanks to the inspiring meal. I had just read about L’Amico in NYmag’s Where to Eat 2016 feature, a new restaurant from chef Laurent Tourondel (known for the BLT restaurants including the Prime, Burger and Market). NYmag touted L’Amico as “the ultimate combination of refined technique and comforting pizza goodness… [the pizzas] combine the best elements of the durably crunchy, umami-loaded New York pie.” And with that, the reservation was made for Friday lunch, pizza being the perfect start to a long weekend.
Interestingly enough, the pizza’s are said to be the “backbone” of the restaurant yet there are only four options to choose from on the menu (five if you include a margherita which the server kindly said they can do — though who wants boring when the options are far from it). The pies on the menu include a soppressata with tomato, mozzarella, sicilian and oregano; a white mushroom pizza with truffle paste, fontina, taleggio and sage; a sausage pizza with panna, shishito and fennel pollen; and a charred kale pizza with radicchio, caraway, pecorino, robiola and onion all between $12-$15. Quite reasonable and on par with other restaurants offering single-serving pies. Charlotte and I opted for the seasonal greens as a starter then the mushroom and kale pizzas (the options sounded too good to settle for just one). And our picks were completely and utterly satisfying. Chef Tourondel was striving to make his own mark on the New York pizza scene in opening L’Amico this past September. He was quoted in WWD saying: “Is it really an Italian dough I’m doing? No, because it’s my dough,” Toulondel stresses. “It’s really an American-Italian cuisine. You come here and try to eat Italian in a restaurant — [the cuisine] doesn’t translate.” Tourondel has succeeded in paving his own way with delicious, authentic pizza that tastes unlike anything else in the city. The best part being the fluffy, yet crisp, dough that melts in your mouth and the complementary toppings which work together to deliver fresh flavor that doesn’t overpower your palate yet highlights the charred, wood-burning taste of the dough. It took five years for Tourondel to perfect the dough, and the commitment shows. He claims a longer fermentation is what accounts for the “fluffy, heavy, less gummy and chewy than Napoli pizza” consistency — and as a lover of Neapolitan-style pizza, this pizza is welcome on the scene since all attempts at Neapolitan pizza tend to replicate one another. These pizzas (and the ingredients themselves) scream of a fresh concept. The kale pizza in particular, with the bitter radicchio and kale plus the salty pecorino and soft robiola cheeses, made for not only an amazing photo op but was the standout pizza among the two, and one I’ll be getting on every return visit.The dining room of L’Amico itself (located inside the Eventi Hotel) is also quite beautiful with an exposed kitchen and warm, rustic details from the old-fashioned wood panels and floor-to-ceiling windows down to the billy ball centerpieces and cute, custom pizza boxes.By the end of the meal, Charlotte and I were both in agreement that the amazing thing about food is it’s an experience. It brings people together (including us) and is an event. It’s not just about the food itself — which was nothing short of amazing — but it’s the ambiance, it’s the service, it’s the conversation and it’s the culinary surprise of tasting something you’ve never had before and discovering a new flavor. It’s something more than lunch. It’s a moment. And it’s something you take with you when you leave the table — including those few leftover slices we couldn’t leave behind.— Jamie Miles