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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Italian East Village Moderate Great

Walking up Second Avenue to meet my friend Diana for dinner at Nicoletta on 10th Street, I felt like a tourist visiting the foreign nation of NYU-istan for the first time. I had once lived in this neighborhood. I spent 10 years on the corner of 17th and 3rd. But I’ve spent the past five years in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill and Heights and, well, things have changed in the old ‘hood. The neighborhood where you’ll find Nicoletta—an astonishingly (not surprisingly) good pizza place from the maestro of Italian cuisine, Michael White—seems to be part dorm room, part frat party, and 100% coed. Gone are the days of the original Palladium. Most kids parade around in their cut off jean shorts and tanks, their flip flops flopping along the concrete in quick succession as they flutter through 16 Handles, Liquiteria, Trader Joes, Five Guys, and Urban Outfitters in quick succession. These parts are summer camp for NYU kids, and it’s a little jarring to navigate the whirlwind of cosmic youth. But these are smart kids, and they know good pizza. You’ll probably get to know many of them as you line up for the beautiful pies being wood-fired at Nicoletta.

To be honest, I was a little worried that I would be proofed and found too old to enter, and be sent home for being over 40. Thankfully, I was not rejected. Apparently, others over 30, 40, and 50 were also granted entrance despite its location in NYU-istan. The 58-seat restaurant, decorated simply with exposed brick and an open kitchen—where a team of serious pizza makers knead rounds of soft dough with such tenderness you’d think they were in infant massage school—was serving everyone from toddler to retiree. Hey, good pizza does not discriminate; it takes the youngest eaters in quickly and has no age limit. I know Emily would’ve eaten this pizza at birth. Who needs pureed organic carrots when you can have a Carbonara pie, topped with salsa Bianca, prosciutto, romano cheese, eggs and pepper? Would you eat mashed pees or the Patate—topped with Yukon gold potatoes, slab bacon, mozzarella and scallions? Likewise, the Maialona—with pepperoni, fennel sausage, onions, Gaeta olives and mozzarella cheese.

Given the waits outside (unfortunately, there is no bar to wait at inside), the decision to open Nicoletta was clearly a good one. The pizzeria marks the fourth New York City restaurant form the Altamarea Group owned by Chef Michael ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in East Village :
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