Just when we were at a loss where to celebrate AJ's 40th (!!!) birthday, his Italian acquaintances recommended Luzzo's Restaurant in the East Village, serving authentic Neapolitan coal-oven pizza. According to them, this was the best place in the city - an honor that many establishments lay claim to.
It was a bustling Saturday night at Luzzo's even at 7pm. The cozy front seating area, flanked on one side by a brick wall with pots and pans hanging from it, led into a bigger dining room where the chefs prepared and tossed the pizzas into the huge coal ovens. We were hard-pressed to choose among the twenty different styles of pizza, but eventually opted for the Martha, topped with bufala mozzarella, fresh truffles and prosciutto. (I rooted hard for Martha, being a big lover of prociutto). Predictably enough, everyone loved it, and I found the soft chewy crust a pleasant surprise.
To wash down the delectable pizza, appetizers (calamari, potato crochettes, rice balls, mozarella sticks) and Trio di Carne (with leftover tomato sauce being mopped up, as shown), the staff in their charming Italian accents suggested their best wine, La Lumia Cadetto - made from Sicily's most popular red grape used in the region's bestselling wines, the Nero d'Avola. We then drank to AJ's milestone and health, cheered our good fortune in discovering Luzzo's, and agreed that a return visit to Luzzo's was in order to sample the other nineteen pizza varieties.