Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Terrifying Pizza Face

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I especially love walking around the city and watching all the freaks come out and flaunt themselves. It's a campy, spooky surreal evening. I'm not one to dress up though - partly because I've been an actor for so long, so I only do it when I get paid! But also, because I can never think of anything creative enough! I mean, do we really need one more guy in drag in the Village?

Once again, I spent this Halloween being myself and that includes trying to find the best pizza in the city. Before going out into the crazy crowd, we found sanctuary at a Soho neighborhood joint called Emporio. The front bar area was pretty sparse, but I soon discovered there was a packed dining room in the back.

That's where the wood-burning oven is hiding. And I caught a quick glimpse of the pizzaiolo, Giuseppe Cangialosi. The man is from Sicily not Naples, so I was curious to see if he had the chops to make a Neapolitan-style pizza.

I was pretty impressed with our first two dishes. They have nothing to do with the main event, but they're worth mentioning. I really loved the chestnut papparadelle - it had lots of textures and interesting flavors. The wood roasted baby back ribs were closer to a short rib stew and not quite what I was expecting.

The first thing I noticed from the thin pizza was the aroma of basil. Good sign. But when I looked closer, the pizza was not so attractive. I could see the oil all over the place. It looked like a big oil puddle. I felt slippery and greasy just by looking at it.

The cheese was overly melty and a bit gelatinous looking. Maybe it was the mood lighting, but it reminded me of burnt flesh. Very Halloween, very Freddy Krueger. I can't imagine this was a choice for Halloween.

Next, I noticed that the slices were huge. The 12" pie was cut into four big slices (as opposed to the usual six). But none of this deterred me from putting the slice into my mouth.

I have to admit this was really nothing special. There weren't any bright flavors. The tomato sauce was bland and completely forgettable. The cheese reminded me of grilled cheese (which is definitely more appetizing than Freddy Krueger's face). The only real saving grace here was the crust. It was nice and thin without being crackery and still maintaining a nice fluff.

We left Emporio slightly satiated, but not completely satisfied. It's a good thing there was a whole city out there to entertain and terrify us. We fought through the costumed city and finally got to our celebratory destination: a scary movie. The popcorn I ordered seemed to do the trick and fortunately had nothing to do with burnt flesh, but I think I may have found an eyeball or two.

Is Emporio the best pizza in NY? It's a nice place to chill and get some affordable wine with some good starters. But their pizza is lacking when compared to the other NY pies out there, so they get a 5 out of 10.

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