- scene: NoMad professionals against a backdrop of soaring white, with some wood details
- sip: Whatever goes well with pizza (ps all the espressos are doubles)
- savor: Pasta meatballs; pizza pizza pizza
- sit: With your friend or date at the counter if you can; business lunch, inlaws, anyone who eats carbs
- spend: $$
- address: 29 East 29th Street (Martha Washington Hotel)
- phone number: (212) 689-1900
- website: www.martamanhattan.com
The weight of infinite amounts of hype and expectations are resting on some very thin crusts, and boy can they take it. Marta is the newest outpost from Danny Meyer, helmed by Maialino alum Nick Anderer, and is as hot as a wood burning oven as far as restaurant openings. Marta made me so happy, I can’t even believe it; the food, atmosphere and service are so exceptional that to no one’s surprise Marta is bound to be a very popular chick for how she puts out ( pizzas, how she puts out pizzas).
Speaking of putting out, we are total pizza sluts and were in HEAVEN sitting at the counter watching all the action in front of the two ovens, as well as the open flame grill. These chefs WORK- they test every pizza for the right amount of crispiness and didn’t stop slinging dough and firing pizzas for one moment. The best Italian food takes quality ingredients and works simply with them to create straightforward food with heart, and the chefs at Marta smell and taste and adjust everything. The dining room is “modern rustic” as DZ put it, with high ceilings, lots of white and some wood accents. The counter is made from beautiful swirled white marble, and the one downfall is the lack of hooks for bags, which the GM told us they are remedying. The focal points are the two huge wood burning ovens, alight with fire and just begging to be fed some pizzas. It was early in Marta’s reign, and it was all hands on deck, with managers, hosts, etc, dropping plates and checks.
Alright kitty cats, I know you want to get to the good part, what we ate. We had a bit of a dilemma regarding the balls because we couldn’t decide between the rabbit meatballs and the pasta meatballs, but we finally decided the pasta meatballs sounded more unique. And also, fried pasta. The pasta meatballs consist of cooked pasta in a cheesy sauce, breaded and fried, served over a pool of fresh marinara sauce. It is not greasy or overly cheesy, so this dish is decadent without being too sinful; absolutely delicious. We ordered two pizzas- the Salsiccia, which seems to be quite popular, and the Pomodoro Fresco, of which we didn’t see too many go out, but that is a mistake. Both pizzas were perfection- Marta uses half the amount of dough as other places like Motorino, so it really is easy to take down piece after piece. Every slice has the right amount of ingredients, and the crust stands up to anything on top. The sausage had a ton of flavor, and the tomato sauce had perfect acidity, not too sweet. The mushrooms were seasoned and done very thin. The Pomodoro Fresco was a perfect use of fresh ingredients; it took the crispy crust of magic, topped it with mozzarella, then hand tossed arugula and parmesan, finished with gorgeous chunks of heirloom tomatoes. The arugula probably had some lemon or olive oil as well, it was just bursting with garden fresh flavors.
Now, being the shameless little eaters that we are, we managed to snag some extra pieces of pizza, just because some times dreams come true. We tried the mushroom pizza, which was bursting with salty earthiness, and had a little bit of a sweeter cheese and onions. The mushrooms were of varied textures and very meaty. Now, it was nearing the end of the lunch shift, (one oven was shut down), and Nick Anderer came on the scene. We might have batted our eyelashes or it was just our lucky day, because he graciously allowed us to try his carbonara pizza, which was completely unlike anything I have ever had before. I would normally never think to order a pizza with potatoes on it, but these was pure cheesy peppery porky perfection, and there was even some egg action. Rumor is that this beauty could be getting a truffle update, so that is something to look forward to.
We are crushing hard on Marta, a perfect palace of pizza perfection. It is a rare thing when a place with so much hype and such lofty expectations actually surpasses them with crusty, crunchy, saucy, cheesy ease.