New York City boasts that it is the birthplace of pizza. (Screw you, Chicago. We win.) We have “the first pizza parlor” and $1 slices all over town. We can get it delivered to us at any time of day or night. We have gluten-free pizza places. We claim it’s just better here, (something about the water?), and we are damn proud of it. With all of this, I’m always surprised when someone can change the pizza game, and completely succeed.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of trying a tasting menu from a new place on 28th and 5th called PN Wood Fired Pizza. PN stands for “Pecore Nere“, which, in Italian, means “Black Sheep“. Managing partner, Giacomo Baldi, explained to me that instead of cranking out the same old pizzas, PN offers a range of flours to choose from. There are 8 flour varieties, and they are all different, organic, from ancient grains and are not refined. I was told that 80% of the grains used come from Italy. They have 3 classic pizzas (like the Margherita Pizza that I tasted – absolutely delicious), a couple of red sauce options, and the Truffle Bianchi (which I also got to try — made with truffle purée! Not synthetic truffle oil! It was outrageous.) The flours change the flavor and texture of the pizza dough. I tried the Montana flour with the Margherita Pizza, which gave an otherwise very typical classic pizza a surprising extra layer of flavor. The Truffle Bianchi had the aforementioned truffle purée, pecorino cheese, arugula, and pancetta. I tend to think that truffle is extremely overwhelming in dishes, but the use of actual truffles instead of the oil created a wonderful balance of flavors.
I know I’ve gotten sidetracked talking about the pizza. I DID try other things. They brought me the Crostini all’Elbana, with melted mozzarella, anchovies, and prosciutto di Parma. I tried the Polpetini Al Tartufo, which are small truffle pork and beef meatballs in a tomato sauce. I got to try a housemade Tagliatelle Pasta with a bright creamy zucchini pesto with almonds. (Is there anything — except maybe homemade pizza — better than a housemade pasta??) My favorite thing, however, was the Braised Octopus with Cannelini Bean Purée and Harissa. The octopus was perfectly cooked – not too chewy- and delicious without the sauces, but the spice of the harissa and the saltiness of the bean purée created a perfect balance.
At the end of the meal, Giacomo brought over a Pistachio Soft Cake. The pistachios were from Sicily, and a “soft cake” for those (like me) who had never heard of such a thing, is a mix between a mousse and a cheesecake. It was incredible.
If you like pizza and want to taste it in new ways, get over to PN as soon as possible. I had a great time, and if you’d like to see more pictures from my experience, follow me on Instagram @whitneygentile or use the hashtag #manhattandigest. For more information on PN Wood Fired Pizza, check out their official Facebook page.