With new upscale pizza places opening on a weekly basis, I’m always wondering how business is doing. Could all this pizzerias possibly be exceeding or even meeting expectations? When I went to Keste it was packed. Same with Co. Even San Marzano, Veloce Pizzeria, and Tonda were pretty crowded when I went. Since I wasn’t at most of these places during prime dining periods (say, Friday at 8PM), it’s appeared that each place has been holding it’s own.
Well now I have Grub Street to thank for doing a more scientific study. Last Friday night, they dropped by seven new pizza places that have opened recently in what I hope is a regular new feature tagged as “spot check.” Their findings are not surprising. Co was packed with a wait. And Keste and San Marzano were more than 80% full. Spunto and Pizza Mezzaluna (neither to which I’ve been) were above half capacity, while Veloce Pizzeria and Tonda were struggling.
Co, San Marzano and Keste really stand out of the pack as far as their pizza goes. In fact, they are three of my favorite pizza places in the city, while it’s hard to justify the prices at Tonda and Veloce Pizzeria when there are better, comparably priced pizza places around. Anther factor might be size. Tonda, which seats about 100 people, is too large. Keste and San Marzano are able to fill up their 40-seat restaurants more easily.
In this type of NYC pizza madness you really need to stand out of the pack. I’d hate to see any of these places close, because the truth is that each do offer something unique to the local pizza scene. But one bad review could kill you in this type of cutthroat pizza world. And there is only so much pizza one can eat. I personally can’t see myself going back to Tonda over San Marzano (which is a five minute walk away), and decisions like that might hurt Tonda’s ability to survive beyond its first year.
Here are the results:
Tonda – 14 diners, approx. 86 seats available
San Marzano – 32 diners, 6 seats available
Veloce Pizzeria – 22 diners, approx. 28 seats available
Pizza Mezzaluna – 11 diners, 9 seats available
Spunto – 43 diners, 18 seats available
Kesté – 32 diners, 8 seats available
Co. – 50 diners, 4 seats available, 6 waiting