Olio Pizza e Più: More Neapolitan Pizza for the Village
There is a new Neapolitan-style pizza joint in the West Village. Olio Pizza e Più is run by Giulio Adriani, a lifelong pizzaiolo who recently moved from Italy to open this place. He claims hardcore authenticity, and is an instructor in the Verace Pizza Napoletana association, a group dedicated to cataloging and preserving the ways of Neapolitan pizza.
There are 18 pizzas on the menu, some marked with accolades like "winner of European cup." They range in price from $9 to $19, with the exception of an outlier called Argento di Napoli, which the restaurant calls its signature pizza. It's piled with cream of broccoli, ricotta, smoked mozzarella, rapini, salsiccia (sausage), lardo, and edible silver for a whopping $30. Last night, our waiter said they couldn't make the pie because they were out of silver. I wanted to tell him they could run right over to Jackson Heights and get some -- Indians put edible gold and silver on their sweets all the time, and they don't charge $30 for them.
But how's the food?
The Zia Anna's salad, a mix of asparagus, smoked salmon, robiola (fresh cheese), and spinach is something of a disaster. The asparagus, salmon, and cheese taste just fine, but they're perched on top of a giant mound of completely unseasoned, undressed spinach. We choked down some tough, dry greens for nutrition's sake.
Involtini of eggplant and mozzarella would be tasty -- melted cheese, eggplant, tomato sauce, what's not to like? -- but the eggplant has an unpleasantly sharp, bitter edge.
Things improve considerably when you get to the pizzas. The Margherita Extra ($15) -- mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil, plus halved cherry tomatoes -- is delicious. The crust is mottled with char, and the puffy ends maintain an appealing salty, airy chew. As is the Neapolitan style, the center of the pie is wet and soggy, and must be eaten with a fork. The tomato sauce tastes fresh and sweet -- it's reportedly just crushed tomatoes with salt, which accounts for its simple vibrancy.
But the mozzarella seizes up, oddly rubbery and dry, without that milky, almost marshmallowy softness that you'd find at Keste, a nearby place that's extremely similar in style. I couldn't understand it, but then I read on Serious Eats that Adriani got complaints about the center of his pies being too soggy, and so now he's squeezing all the water out of the cheese. It might preserve the crust's integrity somewhat, but it takes some of the pleasure out of the mozzarella.
The Vesuvio ($18), shown above, is a more elaborate pie, topped with smoked mozzarella, grilled pumpkin, and speck.
I loved the way the intense salty-smokiness of the cheese and speck found balance in the sweet strips of pumpkin. But ideally, the portion of cheese could be decreased -- as it is, its texture and richness overwhelms the other two ingredients a bit.
Olio Pizza e Più
3 Greenwich Avenue