The Early Word: Veloce Pizzeria
Are you prepared for yet another pizza style? Veloce Pizzeria, the latest project of the Bar Veloce foks, occupies the former Teresa's, a Polish restaurant on First Avenue in the East Village. The space now conforms to the familiar Bar Veloce idea of design, with a deep dining room and a long bar running along a brick wall, on which hang dramatically lit bottles of wine.
The wine list is reasonably priced, with markups of slightly over 100%, making the prices just over twice of the price you'd find in a liquor store. Most bottles fall in the $30 to $40 range, and wines from southern Italy are favored. A glass of Librandi's ciro bianco runs $8, and so does a glass of montepulciano from Italo Pietrantonj, a fairly saturated red that goes well with the pizzas.
Priced from $14 to $17, the pizzas are square and smaller than the typical Sicilian "sheet" sold at place like L & B Spumoni Gardens in Gravesend, Brooklyn. In fact, the pies are 11 inches on a side, and are cut into four pieces. With a shared appetizer, two could be completely happy sharing one pie.
Slices of two of the pies: sausage (left) and mushroom (right, click to inflate)
The crust is thicker than a Neapolitan pizza, and thinner than a conventional Sicilian pizza; in fact, in thickness the slice resembles Staten Island pizza, which falls somewhere in between those two. The crust is crunchy on the outside, and very fine grained and moist inside, with a texture like a zeppole, almost disarmingly poofy. This texture grew on me. The sausage pie was particularly fine, with pork that, though lightly spiced, was bursting with flavor. The mushroom pie deployed dried porcinis, which had been hydrated, then partially dehydrated again as the pie baked. They were thus rendered a little stiff in places, but flavorful.
This picture gives a general idea of how thick the crust on these newfangled pies is.
As you may have gathered, with only five simple pizzas, selections of cheese and salumi, a couple of salads, and a couple of further apps, the menu is spare in the extreme. The frito misto is amazing: a selection of battered and fried herbs like basil and parsley, plus tomtoes and little hunks of cheese, all of it frying up like a crazy Japanese tempura and utterly delicious.
Desserts are limited to a chocolate-garnished panna cotta, and a slab of two-flavor gelato, both good. 103 First Avenue, 212-777-6677