160 Second Ave., at 10th St.; 212-432-1600
There comes a time in the life of a certain type of overachieving megachef when the urge to follow in the footsteps of Totonno, Famous Ray, and Papa John becomes too much. You can’t stop them. They are determined. They want to make pizza. For Michael White, that time is now. Next week, he opens the 60-seat pizzeria Nicoletta in the East Village, and it’s safe to say that the Artichoke boys had better watch their backs. Actually, White has dabbled in dough before, but not like this. His pizza’s roots are not in Naples or New York but rather Wisconsin, where he grew up. The dough is made from high-gluten flour tenderized with a touch of oil and a little sugar, and instead of being delicately rolled out by hand, it’s run through a metal sheeter. Twice. (The tip of a Nicoletta slice, says White, will never droop.) As far as toppings are concerned, it’s pretty much anything goes. And the clincher: This pizza’s designed to withstand the indignities associated with being slid piping hot into a cardboard box and pedaled furiously through the city streets on a mountain bike. In sum, a Nicoletta pie is everything a classic Neapolitan pizza is not. And that’s why, in this age of pizza-Napoletana saturation, White’s gamble seems like a good bet. There are 66 competitors in his pie-making zone, says the chef, “so all I want is to be able to fit in nicely and do my little thing.”
Sullivan St Bakery
236 Ninth Ave., nr. 24th St.; 212-929-5900
Jim Lahey considers tuna fish “the cornerstone of sandwichdom,” ripe for reinvention. Look for his oil-poached, celery-driven version to debut at the new Chelsea branch of his seminal Sullivan St Bakery, opening soon two doors up from his pizzeria, Co. Also in the works: a “reconstructed chickpea fritter” and a riff on a ham and cheese. The value-added bakery has 24 seats, plus two standing tables (“like Otto without the marble,” says Lahey), and will serve beer and wine on tap. Despite the spiffy new setting, you’ll still be able to find all of the bakery’s signature loaves and Roman-style pizzas. And for dessert, Lahey will be relaunching his line of jam-filled crostatas, now made with New York State wheat and eggs.
This story appeared in the June, 11, 2012 issue of New York Magazine.