The fact that Kesté Pizza was named the best pizza in New York by both NY Mag and Time Out NY may seem like good news, but you know the unfortunate fallout of that award: many of us won’t be able to eat there anytime soon, because now the other 10 million New Yorkers also know it’s the best pizza in town.
Solution: lunch. Kesté isn’t a take-out shop, but they do turn tables quickly in this casual spot, so you can be in and out of the place in 25 minutes if you arrive when there’s no line. Try a late lunch at about 2:30pm on a weekday.
There’s been a lot of Bruni-haha recently over which type of pizza is best: Neapolitan, Roman, Sicilian, or grandma-style. Kesté’s falls squarely in the Neapolitan camp, though we agree with genial Kesté pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio when he says “the pizza from there is not better, it’s just different.” (Bruni’s dis of Lucali’s crispier pizza seemed unwarranted given that Lucali’s is an entirely different, northern-Italian style of pizza.) On the day we visited, Caporuscio worked not just the pizza oven but the room, greeting diners at every table.
The toppings on Kesté’s classic margherita pizza ($10) are excellent—a pulpy spread of bright tomato sauce covered with barely-melted mozzarella and a scattering of basil leaves—but what really makes the pizza impossible to put down is the crust. It’s crisp in the middle and toothsomely doughy at the puffy edges, mottled with spots of char and moist with a touch of olive oil.
There’s plenty of wine on offer, but there is also soda ($3) if you’re not on the three-martini lunch program. Midday is a great time to visit this cheap chic new restaurant without the hassle.
Total time: 25 minutes
Kesté Pizza & Vino
271 Bleecker Street, between Cornelia and Jones Streets
New York, New York