Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: Zero Otto Nove, Bronx, NYC

Zero Otto Nove, 2357 Arthur Avenue Bronx, NY 10458

Because Zero Otto Nove is on my list of "Sixty Pizzas Worth the Calories," I wanted to share a mini-review about the food there.  It's been a few years since I was there, but reading other reviews online confirms for me that the quality hasn't slipped. 

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm most fond of a thin, crisp, sturdy crust pizza. My ideal one is a Trenton tomato pie (learn HERE about DeLorenzo's), but a New Haven apizza is also right on the money. As best as I can recall, Zero Otto Nove may be the first true Neapolitan pie that I sampled (plenty of ordinary pizza joints inaccurately label their pies Neapolitan). It really opened my eyes to the magic of the charred and puffy Neapolitan crust.
Margherita pie. Photo from http://www.facebook.com/ZeroOttoNove

On a NYC trip that included stops at The Cloisters, Patsy' Pizza in East Harlem, City Island, and Yankee Stadium, we made a too-brief stop in Bronx's Little Italy for tomato pie at Zero Otto Nove (0-8-9, the area code of Chef Roberto's Italian home). 

It was in a tidy neighborhood with street parking, and we found a nice interior to this cozy place. It's designed to make you feel as though you are eating in an Italian piazza, and they largely succeed.  With FEEP Jr (Fellow Enthusiast for Eating Pizza), we ordered two of the personal-sized pizzas: The Margherita pie, made with imported bufalo mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes, and the white pie made with ham and béchamel. 
Our view from nosebleed seats at the original Yankee Stadium

Of the many Neapolitan pizzas I've eaten since, my typical complaint is the wet and soggy center that ruins the first few bites of each slice, and the wet blobs of fresh mozzarella floating in wet pools of sauce. Often, it's a gross excess of moisture for the delicate nature of a Neapolitan crust. Yeah, yeah, I know that even in Italy "it's supposed to be that way" but it really destroys the balance of the pie.
Interior view, from http://www.facebook.com/ZeroOttoNove

I'm happy to report that, based our our pies that day, Zero Otto Nove crafts a Neapolitan pie with a better sense of harmony regarding what goes on top. Our pies were generous with cheese and other toppings, but they were not wet, soggy, or limp. Even though we had eaten a few slices of Patsy's wonderful Trenton-ish pizza only a few hours earlier, we easily polished off these pies after an appetizer.
Street View with vintage Fiat, from http://www.facebook.com/ZeroOttoNove

The San Marzano tomatoes - which I can sometimes think are over-hyped - really tasted superb, and there was a distinct delicate appeal in the cheese. Fresh mozzarella can be bland, but the sweet dairy taste here was  perfect on this pie. Not long ago, crafting homemade pie in Pennsylvania (full story HERE), a Bronx friend stopped on Arthur Avenue to buy fresh mozz, San Marzano tomatoes, and other authentic Italian ingredients. It makes a huge difference.

The octopus we had for appetizer was the tenderest I've ever had, and I savored every bite. Beyond the lovely setting, we had wonderful old-world service, too. I'd go back often if I lived anywhere close.

Zero Otto Nove stands with San Francisco's Pizzeria Delfina (review HERE) as the best Neapolitan pie I've had. Wonderful pizza.  
Zero Otto Nove on Urbanspoon

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