Monday, November 2, 2009

Going Posto

There are lots of pizza chains all over the city. You've got Ray's, Two Boots, Famiglia. Then many of the big guys have more than one location (John's, Nick's, Totonno's). I've already talked about the Patsy's and Angelo's empires and Grimaldi's has spread out onto Long Island and New Jersey. And I'm not even mentioning Pizza Hut, Domino's, or Sbarro. I said I wasn't mentioning those so forget I even mentioned those.

The most unlikely pizza chain in New York are the quadruplets Posto, Gruppo, Vezzo, and Spunto. They sound like four Italian dwarves offering up their thin crust pies to their principessa. But in reality, these four places all cater to a neighborhood clientele and, in the last few years, have gained local followings.

The truth is they are practically identical - just check out their websites. The restaurant layouts are slightly different but all have the same font, all give off that relaxed, local vibe, and all end in the letter "o". And their menus are identical.

So do I really have to visit all four? Seriously, I'm a very busy guy. In addition to searching for the best pizza in NY, I do have a day job. I gotta bring home the pepperoni somehow, you know. And if you're going to basically clone your one restaurant three other times, you can't expect to be treated as if you're something other than that. I'll only be visiting one Ray's, one Patsy's, etc. So, sorry, Posto/Gruppo/Vezzo/Spunto, but you only get one chance.

Posto was the most convenient to where I was meeting an old friend. And we made it in time for the lunch special. They offered two slices and a salad for a really great price. But this is all about pizza, so I got the Margherita pie, which was 9 inches and reasonably priced at $10. I'm pleased to say this is the best pizza deal I've encountered so far.

I'm not pleased however to report the results. The pizza looked beautiful and their promise of thin crust was fulfilled. The crust was almost cracker-like, which I really love. The problems started when I picked up a slice. I've never seen anything quite like this but every bit of topping (cheese, tomato, basil, etc.) quickly fell off the crust and onto my plate. This happened with every single slice I attempted to eat. I had to basically re-assemble the pizza myself. I mean, come on, this is a huge no-no in the pizza world. All the ingredients are meant to be eaten together not sloppily placed back on the slice.

I also noticed that more than a few of the fresh tomatoes were anything but and were actually yellow. And believe me, they were not yellow tomatoes by nature. Granted, tomato season is now behind us, but if you can't get fresh good looking tomatoes, then you shouldn't serve them on your pizza. It's that simple.

On the other hand, the cheese was fresh and the sauce was well-seasoned. And the pizza tasted quite good. I'm still thinking about that delicious thin crust. And for the bargain I got at lunch, I really shouldn't complain. But I'm grading the pizza here and Im not going to settle for anything less than the best.

Could it have been an off day? Could Vezzo or Gruppo have a better grasp on fresh ingredients and how to keep those ingredients on the pizza? One of my friends swears by Vezzo so maybe one day I'll get over there too. But the Posto group-o had one chance-o and I'm sad to say, it's a no-no.

Is Posto the best pizza in NY? The thin crust is as delicious as advertised, but the pizza as a whole is sloppy and difficult to eat. The comfortable atmosphere and affordable prices help save the place from total doom and help me rate it 6 out of 10.

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