Overall Experience - 6.8
Summary : This new Manhattan pizza spot emphasizes the 8 types of flour it uses in its dough. Although the differences might be hard to notice, it doesn't take away from cool space, great service, and decent pies.
Another upscale Manhattan pizza place? I know what you’re thinking… when will this maddness end?
PN Wood Fired Pizza (2 West 28th Street) opened its doors earlier this year with a new spin: flour. That’s right. The Nomad restaurant has eight different flour varieties that diners can select for their dough (although only two types are available each day). The place is owned by the CEO of a flour company, so its focus on this ingredient makes sense. Is this some kind of gimmick? Or the real deal? I paid a visit this summer to find out.
The restaurant is located in an area with more and more pizza options than ever before. Most notably, Danny Meyer’s Marta is around the corner. On the Friday evening that I was there, the place was pretty full. My group of 8 was seated at a table towards the back of the restaurant which was particularly conducive to our party size. There was a bucket of ice in the middle of the table, where bottles of wine and carafes of water could be chilled. I was a fan of this setup and having two people on each side of the large square table made it easy for everyone to chat. So first tip — if you visit PN, come with a group of 8 and ask to reserve this table.
When you are seated, you’ll be presented with index cards featuring the current flour offerings. On the evening we were there, the two types were Miracolo and Organic Stone Ground Type 1. To be honest, I never really put much thought into the type of flour that is used in my pizza dough, but it was nice to read about the two offerings (you can learn about all 8 types on their website). I won’t bury the lead here though — nobody at my table seemed to notice a difference in taste between the two flour types. Maybe the two types being offered that night weren’t so different? Or maybe all the other flavors of the pizza just overshadowed any distinction in the dough flavors? I’m curious whether I’d notice a difference had all eight crusts been presented to me side by side, without any toppings.
Another slight disappointment was the fact that only two doughs are offered each evening, even though the restaurant boasts 8 types. I’m sure there are logistical issues with producing all 8 types every single night. But I sort of felt like it was the equivalent of visiting an ice cream store which promotes 50 flavors… but only has two available. Or a beer store which sells 100 beers… but only has a few available. If your “thing” is going to be flour… go “all in” and provide diners will all the options, all the time. That would be much more impressive than the fact that the restaurant has the potential to produce 8 flour varieties.
Okay… so the dough, while tasty and of high quality, wasn’t noticeably different (to a non-dough connoisseur) from other well regarded pizza places. But what about everything else? Overall, our group thought the pies were good, not great. At least not great enough to stand out in an overcrowded pizza market. One of my favorite pies was the Tartufo (with black truffle puree, mozzarella, pancetta, pecorino and arugala). It was really truffle-y, but I thought all the flavors came together really well. The Bufalina (artichoke puree, mozzarella, spinach, speck — although we got ours without speck), I also enjoyed, but was disappointed too. The artichoke puree was barely noticeable, as the spinach was the predominant flavor on this pie. When I use artichoke puree at home, I apply it as a base — basically a substitute for tomato sauce. So I would have liked to have seen more of the puree on this pie.
There were 10 pies on the menu the night that we were there and we tried 8 of them. They are priced from $16-$22 (compared with Marta’s pies which range from $17-$24, although gratuity is included with those prices). A party of two could split two pies or a pie and appetizer (my favorite of which was the mozzarella and prosciutto plate). All in all, PN Wood Fired Pizza shines when it comes to its space, its service, and the quality of its ingredients — with a special emphasis placed on flour. Only time will tell whether diners ultimately care about all of its flour varieties — or just want to grab a reasonably priced bite in a hip neighborhood that serves some decent food.
Tomato Pulp, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil
Artichoke Puree, Mozarella Di Bufala DOP, Baby Spinach (no speck)
Black Truffle Puree, Fresh Mozzarella, Peppery Pancetta, Tuscan Pecorino Cheese, Arugala
Tomato Pulp, Fresh Mozzarella, Spicy Salame
Pizza Del Golfo
Mascarpone Cheese, Mozarella, Shrimps Marinated w/ Lemongrass and Chili, Snow Pea Shoots
Crudo & Rucola
Tomato Pulp, Mozzarella, Prosciutto Di Parma DOP 20 Months, Arugula
Sole Del Sud
Mascarpone, Smoked Mozzarella, Semi Dried Tomatoes, Basil, Sicilian Capers, Marjoram
Mozzarella, Porcini Mushrooms, Pine Nuts, Pork Jowl, Fresh Thyme