There is just something I like about a Monday morning in Manhattan. Maybe the best way to sum it up is that the “City That Never Sleeps” seems a little sleepy after the weekend. Nonetheless, you can feel the city starting to come awake for another week, but it just doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get there.
So, this Monday was the perfect time for me and my NYC-Foodie friend to meet for some pizza at a new downtown place he heard about. The sparkly new joint was Sorbillo Pizzeria; a place with some real pizza pedigree from Italy: Naples (1935), Milan (2014) and now New York (2017.) It’s also a family thing opened by Gino and Toto Sorbillo, who are Napolitan Pizzaioli, and whose father is the nineteenth of 21 children, all Pizzaioli. (My new word of the day, “Pizzailo” means a person who makes pizzas in a pizzeria, and “Pizzaioli” is the plural.)
After making the drive in from Jersey, I was able to find a street parking spot after a moderate spell of searching up and down the side streets. Still somewhat sleepy myself, it really wasn’t until I started walking around that I realized I was in the heart of the Bowery. But, after seeing the “Joey Ramone Place” street sign and the giant Blondie mural, I knew I wasn’t too far from the former site of punk rock club CBGB which is now a John Varvatos “funky but chic” high-end clothing boutique.
My old pal and I soon met, and together we ventured inside this lovely-designed restaurant. There’s a long wine bar on the right side, a pizza oven in the back, and dining tables along the left side where we sat in the otherwise empty room just after their noon-hour opening. In case you hadn’t figured it out, the pizza here would be in the home land’s original Neapolitan style. We didn’t waste much time, and we each ordered our own pies. Mine was the plain and simple Margherita ($17; for $19 you can upgrade to a buffalo mozzarella) and his was the Marinara which leaves off the cheese. We also shared a fine fresh fancy salad to kick things off.
It was soon time and our pretty pizzas arrived. Wow! For me, this was about as good as a traditional Neapolitan pizza gets. As my buddy added: “It saves you a lot of money on plane fare to Italy!” But, you have to like this style to enjoy it. The one thing about these pies is that that are usually quite soft. Surprisingly, although soft, this one was quite manageable in terms of picking up and folding a slice. The other thing is that you need to eat them fast enough before they get too soggy in the middle. Fortunately, this one was so tastily delicious, that I ate mine so fast, there wasn’t a chance for that to happen.
The mozzarella cheese was fab as was the lightly-charred and delightful puffy crust that made you want to eat every morsel. The flour was Caputo organic which is often referred to as “the gold standard of pizza flour.” It was just so darn good. The tomato sauce was also to die for: sweet, but not too sweet – it was the ingredient that got your attention, especially on that Marianna pie. This was surely a taste of Italy.
So that leads us to the big question? Is this the best N-pizza in Manhattan? After some thought, we both felt that honor still belonged to Keste. Still, Sorbillo was absolutely fantastic and should be on your list of places to try if this kind of pizza is to your liking. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
PIZZA SNOB RATING **** ½ Nearer Perfection
334 Bowery (between 2nd& 3rd Streets)
New York, NY 10012