An unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon last weekend found AV and me wandering around the West Village like two caged prisoners recently given parole. Sunshine? Warmth? What IS this? We walked around just soaking up the New York-ness of the scene and enjoying the day until, finally, we got hungry. Coincidentally, we were just in the neighborhood of Keste, another of the city's new guard of extraordinary pizza establishments. In the interest of continuing AV's pizza education, we slipped in early enough to avoid a line and prepared ourselves for some delicious pie.
The restaurant itself is pretty nondescript, with no real decor scheme to speak of other than "small." The tables are squeezed together, but the front windows of the space were open to the delightful elements, lending a bit of a sense of roominess to the whole affair. Also worth noting is the fact that the bathroom is surprisingly clean and modern, for what it's worth.
We placed our order with the incredibly affable server (who potentially could have been a manager or owner-- he just seemed to have that way about him), and very shortly our food began to land. I chose the arugula, tomato, and parmesan salad, and it was pretty much as good a version as one could ask for. There were cherry tomatoes of three colors cut into small disks, a light vinaigrette, and a shower of thick parmesan shavings drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. The whole thing was simple, fresh, and a pure delight.
AV's pizza arrived straight from the oven, bubbling hot and blistered. He had ordered the quattro formaggi, which he hadn't realized didn't have tomato sauce. Once he adjusted to the concept, however, he was incredibly happy with his choice. The four cheeses--buffalo mozz, gran cru, caciocavello, and parmesan-- actually had distinct tastes, especially the parmesan. And the crust was a dream, chewy and light despite being a bit over-charred in places. On the plus side, the char did enable AV to have a bit of bubble-wrap fun in poking out the brittle carbony bits before putting the leftover slices in a thoughtfully-provided small take-home box.
After our meal, we took a leisurely walk to the Hudson River and then doubled back to grab some frozen yogurt next door from Keste, which I didn't photograph because I gobbled it down too quickly. But back to pizza-- Keste was spectacular. Perhaps not QUITE as incredible as Motorino, but that's splitting hairs. Keste is a four Offset Spatula destination worth waiting in line for. For a relatively inexpensive dinner ($30 for both of us together, including tip), among the best you can get.
271 Bleecker Street