Pizza is an interesting food. Like burgers, there are so many restaurants out there that make pizza and they are all doing the best job they can but the taste and quality varies widely. In New York City, pizza restaurants are a dime a dozen and I never expect to be bowled over when I try a place that is new to me.

Dana, the cheese-lover she is, has been taking cheese classes for years now…She took a mozzarella making class at the Brooklyn Kitchen (more on that later), and one of the instructors happened to be Roberto Caporuscio, owner of Keste Pizzeria. Once he said he put this exact, handmade mozzarella on the pizzas there, we had to go.

We planned to visit Kesté one day while we were out shopping but hadn’t realized the restaurant closes between 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. every day so we had to go back the next day. It was one of those bitterly cold December nights in New York City and we when arrived at Keste there was a line (well, more of a cluster) of people waiting outside. The restaurant is teeny so there isn’t a waiting area inside. It was a good sign to us that people were willing to wait out in the cold for this pizza – it had to be good. While we were waiting, someone from the staff came outside with a pizza for us to nibble on and the crowd descended on the pizza like buzzards in the desert. I decided to wait until we could actually sit down at a table to try the pizza and I really didn’t want to compete for a slice out on the sidewalk so I didn’t have any. It was a really nice gesture though and we thought it was a nice touch of customer service.

Finally we were next and as we started to head into the restaurant we saw a woman speaking to the guy who was seating us. She was trying to negotiate with him for a table ahead of all the people who had been waiting outside. We heard the host tell the woman he couldn’t seat her because it wouldn’t be fair to the other patrons. Awesome. That was the second nice touch of customer service.

Everything on the menu looked so good and we were so hungry that it was difficult to decide what we wanted to order. We ended up choosing the caprese salad, the Toscana salad (spring mix, pear, walnut, lemon and extra virgin olive oil), the Funghi pizza (tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, mushroom, basil, extra virgin olive oil) and the Filetti di Pomodoro (grape tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil).

Because of the way the waiter positioned the pizzas when he delivered them, I ended up eating the Filetti first. I can’t even fully describe the experience of eating this pizza. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before.  I couldn’t even speak. The cheese was so creamy that it literally melted in my mouth like butter. And all I could do was just sort of stare off into space as I ate my first bite. I told Dana she had to try that one right away. When she bit into it she had the same look on her face that I did. Dana couldn’t speak either: she said she had to “meditate” for a moment. I have eaten pizza in Italy (Rome, Milan and Santa Margherita) and thought I knew how real pizza should taste. But this was Neapolitan style pizza and since I haven’t yet been to Naples I guess I’ve really been missing out.

By the way, the salads and the mushroom pizza were all very delicious as well – we just really, really liked the Filetti. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Oh, they also serve gluten-free pizza on Mondays and Tuesdays. I haven’t yet tried it but I definitely want to.

The details:

Kesté Pizza and Vino

271 Bleecker Street, NYC