Keste::West Village, Manhattan

salsiccia pizza


So I guess Monday nights are pizza nights.

That’s the impression I got from Keste anyway. The narrow Bleecker Street restaurant was packed to the gills and hot as hell. You’d think there was a wood-burning oven in there.

New York Magazine swears that Keste beats any Neopolitan pie outside of Naples. I’m not so sure. I really wanted to go to Una Pizza Napoletana, but the eccentric/amply tattooed pizza man, Anthony Mangieri, tells me they’ve closed their location. His hands needed a vacation methinks.

So Goody Bathtub and I chose Keste.

It’s a Love Story

The Italian-speaking host charmed and confused GB and I as he corralled us into a table for two. Handed us our menus and put a carafe of water on the table. Minutes after we ordered, our Salsiccia pizze arrived ($15 apiece). Swift service, perfect. I was impressed.

Everyone around us looked happy about their food–arugula salads with thick shavings of parmigiano reggiano, and mmm, who doesn’t love a caprese platter? It may have been the Neopolitan gentleman eliciting their smiles though. Who can tell?

Ah, what light and thin crust on Keste pies! San Marzano tomatoes = wow. And what beautiful mozzarella! The ingredients–key to creating any fine cuisine–are fresh to taste and easily leave any self-proclaimed “Best in New York” pizzeria in the dust.

Another Menu to Burn

If I return to Keste, I will try a different pie. Yes, the sausage was fine, but its flavor didn’t blend with the delicious fresh mozzarella and acid-y tomato sauce. Two tables over I noticed a pizza with long slices of prosciutto and arugala (Prosciutto e Arugola, $16). That may be the way to go next time.

The chewy, burnt crust satisfied at times, but I found it excessively doughy halfway through. I prefer a crisper crust. You may not.

kesteplateAs you can see, I was able to finish the pie. More notable is the adorable plate Keste serves their pizze on. Check out the cute pizzaiolo tossing his pizza around. Note: The pizzaioli at Keste don’t wear white hats or coats, or have ghostly pale skin tone. (Casper may have Monday’s off.)

Keste cuts the pie into four quadrants. According to New York, I am supposed to know how to fold and eat the pizza using my hands instead of a fork and knife. Well, I couldn’t shape it into the triangle they depict in the magazine, but I did my best. It’s possible that my incorrect approach hindered my ability to fully appreciate the flavor of Keste.

Tied Together With (or Without) a Smile

Keste’s got a lot to offer–mostly in the form of extreme heat and market-fresh ingredients. Avoid a heavy topping like sausage and opt for the Regina Margherita to fully experience the flavor explosion of fresh mozzarella, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, and nearly-transparent crust. Next time I’ll try the caprese plate and a different pizza–and wine.

271 Bleecker St. (Near Morton St.)
New York, NY
1 train to Christopher St.; ABCDFV to West 4th

PS You’ll see a lot of these on your way to Keste. Beware.