2015 saw the closure of Donatella Arpaia’s Prova in Chelsea, but this Prova Pizzabar is more popular for its counter selling pizza by the slice, far quicker than getting a Shake Shack burger a few yards away. The dining space is small, but insulated from the bustle of the Grand Central; there is also a bar space which works well in the small setting. The classic eggplant Parmesan is excellent – hearty and belly-warning; however, the Tartufata with truffle cream, Porcini Mushrooms, Mozzarella and Speck ($8 slice, $42 pie) might be NYC’s best white pie after Juliana’s No.1, but such a different beast: a bready crust with real bite. This is apparently Detroit-style, and it pulls off slices but definitely not for that price. A small selection of wine and beers is available and service is below-average but the atmosphere is a little better than you’d expect from a restaurant – other than the Oyster bar – in a terminus station.
The slices here are breathtakingly fresh, and it may have had something to do with my state of inebriation but I feel that it’s no exaggeration to crown this the king of all late-night pizza joints. The White Pesto (Parmigiano Reggiano and pesto sauce – no marinara sauce) is good to start with, while the Tuscany Chicken (with bacon, ranch, mozzarella and parsley) is a next step in the right direction. Spicy, Buffalo, Mushroom and Sausage varieties are all on offer, service is friendly and there’s some basic seating upstairs. Slices are $3-4 each and soft drinks are available in the fridge – it’s that simple. The walls are covered with pics of Baldwins, Sarandons and Pinkett-Smiths, so you’re in good company.
Subway: Delancey St (F), Essex St (M,J,Z)
This late-night pizzeria mini-chain has a great reputation for its three branches (Williamsburg, Bowery and Park Ave) and there may well be plans for expansion. Giulio Adriani’s flash-fried and oven-finished pizza fritte satisfies the munchies of most late diners. The pizza is certainly top-notch here, but the service can be lax and even quite uppity. But fear not, stoners: delivery is always available too, though you’d be missing the upscale decor and the warmth of the perfectly low-glow lighting.
Subway: Lorimer St (L), Metropolitan Av (G)
Consistently topping lists for best pizza in Brooklyn, Juliana’s is the original Grimaldi’s, though the long lines outside the latter show that many still don’t know this, and prefer the gruff manner of the staff at the corner joint. The original site is a much classier affair, with cleaner lines, white walls and professional service, as well as a charming manager and regular visits from the proud owner himself. The choice ‘No.1’ in the pizza specials is a thing of fresh, salty decadence: Mozzarella, Scamorza affumicata, pancetta, scallions and Oregon-grown white truffles in olive oil—no tomato appears on this white pie in any form, and frankly is not missed at all. There are also pastas, salads and desserts, and an extensive choice of wine and beer, so it’s easy to get carried away here. The only thing you might find is how noisy the space can get, due to some strange acoustics or lack of soft wall fittings – it’s a cacophony at the worst of times. But who really cares in such a rightfully celebrated institution?
Subway: High St (A)
Superlative Neapolitan-style pizza at slightly higher prices than your average. Fire roasted peppers with burrata ($12) are soaked in olive oil but served in small portions, just like the other starters such as the white beans and pesto. Fior di latte is on every pizza, and though the
sopressata picante ($15) is good, the cremini and fennel sausage pizza ($17) is even better. There’s a range of draft and bottled beers, cocktails and wines, and service is just average. The decor and lighting is very intimate – even romantic -though, and this definitely is a special spot in the neighborhood.
Subway: Franklin Ave, Botanic Garden, Park Pl.
Exotic toppings and vegan choices, along with late-night opening hours on weekends and a decent range of soft drinks (even two different types of root beer) make Vinnie’s a neighborhood winner for the rushed diner on a budget. The avocado & black bean slice was the only dull choice we tried; ground beef with ranch sauce was meat-feasty, and the mac’n’cheese slice was better than average. These gourmet options are $4.50 each but their fantastic simple cheese slices are $2.75. Try the beef patty too – it’s not as greasy as others I’ve tried, and packs a spicy punch. Sure, the servers could do with smiling more, but this is reliably good fast food.
Subway: Bedford ave.
We came here for the freshly-made pasta and bread, meats that are sourced sustainably and certified Animal Welfare Approved, and a bit of good wine and atmosphere. Faro didn’t disappoint at all, with a large space devoted to making diners the stars, in calming wood surroundings and fantastic lighting; this could’ve easily beaten Manhattan at its own game. The husband-wife team that opened this a few weeks ago were also behind a couple of big names like Le Bernardin and Northeast Kingdom, and they really have hit upon something here: it was packed at 10pm on a Wednesday night when we went. The squid ink chitarra was the only average item on our table, fresh and tangy but lacking a variety of textures, while the wood-fired scallops were perfect, served on a bed of peas and emmer.
The gnocchi sardi (braised goat, artichoke and ricotta) was excellent. Parker House rolls with honey butter ($5) was probably the finest in-house bread I’ve ever tasted in my life, and I wish I had ordered my own portion: sharing was regretful. Both pasta dishes set us back $17 while the scallops were $20; pricey – especially for the area – but with this much attention to detail, it’s worth every cent, if you’ve got it.
I’ll be ordering a cocktail next time, as the bottle of Albariño we had was not even close to the memorable white wine we cherished from our Madrid days. And others have sung the praises of the bar’s mixes, so it’ll surely be whiskey sours next time.
Subway: Jefferson St