Restaurant Roundup: Keste Pizza & Vino

It's a double dose of the restaurant roundup this week as I've just been dining out a lot over the last couple of weeks. Last week, Lauren and I visited Keste Pizza & Vino, a tiny Village pizzeria dishing up traditional Neapolitan pizza. If you recall, Lauren and I had our very first date at Otto Enoteca, where outstanding pizza, creamy cheese, truffle honey and marinated cherries reigned supreme. Since we had such a fun time and went on to speak of Otto and pizza for weeks following that fateful night, we decided it only fitting that our next dinner outing should involve cheesy, crusty goodness. And so began a veritable borough-wide pizza tour, fueled by our mutual love for pizza coupled with a virtually endless supply of pizza joints across the city. But Keste is no ordinary pizza joint. With a laundry list of options that cook in mere minutes in their signature brick oven, Keste prides itself on its thick-crusted, authentic Neapolitan pizza. Let's get down to the details...

We started the meal with a salad...the only healthy item that would be consumed all evening. Fresh slices of parmigiano reggiano topped off these fresh, salty greens.

Moving onto the main attraction, L and I picked two pizzas to sample (for research purposes of course). The first was the special of the night; a signature crusted (read: thick, salty and perfectly cooked in a brick oven that took up half the restaurant) pizza starring buffalo mozzerella, stracciatella cheese (a creamy mozzerella), fresh basil, grape tomatoes and prosciutto di parma (a thinly sliced, cured ham featured only on my side of the pizza, as L is meat-free). There really just aren't words for this one. I had never knowingly had stracciatella cheese and I've decided that it needs to be explored (and more importantly, consumed) further. The grape tomatoes and prosciutto gave it the salty, tanginess that really made the whole dish sing. The second photo below was also featured in my January Favorites (as we actually visited Keste during the last week of January).

In addition to the pizza special, we also ordered a funghi pizza; mushroom, fresh basil, tomatoes, and mozzerella. Again, the crust was absolute perfection.

 This time, we got to sample the true test of Italian cooking - "the sauce" (and if you grew up with an Italian mother, you already know that this is the almighty barometer of all things food). Since the special did not have sauce, the funghi pizza was the only test. The result? It passed my test with flying colors. Unlike the extreme heat behind Mario Batali's marinara pizza, this sauce was sweet...the only way to do "the sauce" in my opinion.

Lauren enjoying the funghi pizza

...and me chowing down on the salty crust

The bottom line? A fantastic pizza joint that I will certainly be revisiting, not only for more of the standard fare, but apparently we seriously missed out on the Nutella pizza and that's just not really acceptable in my book. What can I say? There was less than zero amount of stomach space left. After all, by the end, our plates looked like this:

Though I am typically not, I repeat not, a fan of thick-crusted pizza, the Keste kind worked for me. Though it was thick, it was crispy on the outside and had just the right hint of salt. Delish.

What I really want to know from you is, where is your favorite pizza joint? Is it in New York? New Jersey? Standard delivery? Gourmet? Send some recommendations and tips in the comments!

Psst...L & I already moved onto pizza joint #3, and this time with another guest joining the table. This time we're moving to the outer boroughs for a slice of the famous Grimaldi's. The question it the best pizza in New York? In the universe? You'll have to check back to find out.