If any flatbread could convince you that it’s an equal brother, not a distant country cousin, to the universal crowd-pleaser known as pizza, the merguez version found at Irvington (201 Park Avenue South; 212-677-0425) would be the one. A robust, distinctly bready base is layered with vivid romesco sauce, topped with smoky, spicy house-made merguez sausage and soft, sweet red onions. The whole dish is brightened with dabs of cool, salty ricotta.
All the flatbreads here are a good bet; there’s usually a special flatbread highlighting whatever’s fresh and inviting at the Greenmarket in neighboring Union Square that day. If you’re dining with a group, especially, you’ll want to add one to the table. However, it’s the merguez —simple, un-showy, almost austere in its commitment to brown, that we come back for time after time.
“We make the sausage in-house,” chef David Nicholls tells the Voice. “I want to be able to control the spices, to get the exact taste I’m looking for. I love to highlight ingredients, so I try to keep things simple and let the flavors really shine.”
Sit at the counter and watch hardworking chefs press the fresh dough onto a paddle before topping it and sliding it into the oven.
Cold beer. Hot flatbread. Heaven.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10. To read about previous dishes, browse the 100 Favorite Dishes page.