Anita Lo is the chef and owner at the West Village’s Annisa (13 Barrow Street, 212-741-6699). On a recent night off, she was craving pizza, which led her to newcomer Prova (184 Eighth Avenue, 212-641-0977), where master pizzaiolo Pasquale Cozzolino is turning out the pies.
Here are her thoughts on the UNICA, a sea urchin and squid ink pizza:
“I had a rare night off and was craving pizza, so I went with my girlfriend, Amanda Cohen, Elizabeth Falkner, and some other friends to Prova. We’d been talking about its opening, and when I heard that Maurizio de Rosa of Sushi Nakazawa was involved, I knew we had to go, since our restaurants are neighbors and they’ve always been really lovely to me.
“The crust was a standout. It’s a long-fermented crust, so the taste of the dough has a lot of depth and a little sourness to it, which is perfect with anything from the ocean. It’s cooked in a wood-burning oven made by the best craftsperson in Italy, Stefano Ferrara, so it’s a little charred on the outside and not crunchy but crisp, yielding to a nice, chewy interior.
“The sea urchin is from the same source in Santa Barbara as what they use at Nakazawa. It’s sweeter and creamier than Maine sea urchin, which is smaller and stronger. I like them both for different reasons, but for this pizza it was perfect: sweet, briny, and like the best custard you’ve ever had, which is perfect with the char from the crust. Good sea urchin looks a lot like tongue, where you can see the little taste buds on it. If you don’t like sea urchin, it’s because you’ve only had bad sea urchin…which looks like a puddle and is disgusting.
“Sea urchin and squid ink are classic pairings, and the squid ink added another savory depth. It also made it look pretty impressive, visually.”
Where do chefs go to eat on their nights off? We’re asking them — and they’re divulging the best things they’ve eaten in the last month in this weekly column.