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Bread Man Calculates Pie

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When people talk about the tippy top of the New York pizzaioli chain, they talk about Dom De Marco, Nick Angelis, Patsy Grimaldi, Lawrence Ciminieri (of Totonno’s), Anthony Mangieri, and Andrew (as in Franny’s Feinberg). But what about Jim Lahey of Sullivan St Bakery? Although this doyen of dough’s unusual Roman-inspired slices are indisputably delicious, they’ve always flown slightly under the pizza radar, as if they were another species of upper crustiness entirely. That may change in December, when Lahey opens Co. (230 Ninth Ave., at 24th St.), a 54-seat Chelsea pizzeria and the stage for a new Lahey pizza creation—round, thin-crusted, Neapolitanish, and iconoclastically topped. “I’ve had this idea in my head for ten years,” says Lahey, who test-drove the concept out of a mobile pizza truck at the Union Square Greenmarket last fall. Unlike the square pies at Sullivan St Bakery that are served room temperature, Co.’s pizza will be baked at around 700 degrees in a wood-burning oven imported from Modena. And Lahey isn’t afraid to challenge sacred pizza truisms, beginning with a lunatic shot against the tomato-and-mozzarella hegemony: “Tomatoes aren’t even indigenous to Italy,” he says, “so where do we get off saying it has to be tomatoes on top of the bread?” Mozzarella? “A cliché. I’m going to have to control the use of what is an overused ingredient.” Which is not to say he won’t offer a Margherita pie made with buffalo mozzarella from Di Palo’s. But he’ll also offer a frilly radicchio number with red onion, chiles, and three cheeses that looks like a nest built by a slightly deranged bird, as well as seasonal concoctions like zucchini-anchovy purée with zucchini blossoms. Not exactly old-school, but the undeniable mark of potential pizza greatness.


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Fall Preview 2007

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