This is the first post in the 2015 New York series.
I have very fond memories of Rome.
Bryan and I first visited the city in 2001, the first stop of our extended honeymoon in Italy. We were wowed by the numerous ancient buildings, inexpensive but delicious food (the country was still on the lira currency back then!), and friendly people. It took us over 10 years to visit again, a short weekend trip after one of my European business trips. On that second trip, we focused a lot more on the food. We researched heavily before we went, and visited some fantastic restaurants.
One especially fond memory related to the pizza. Although Rome is not as known for its pizza as Naples, the pizza there is still unique and very, very tasty.
pizza from dal Paino in Rome
We especially loved the light and crispy - super thin crust on the Roman pizzas. It was almost like a cracker topped with gorgeously flavored toppings. In the U.S., we soon discovered that most restaurants aim for Neapolitan-style pizzas, which have a thicker, chewier, breadier crust. Though we loved the many excellent authentic pies we found in the U.S., we still missed the uber-thin crusts that we experienced in Rome.
This is why we were so excited when we heard about Marta, a new Roman-style pizzeria in New York from Danny Myers' Union Square Hospitality Group.
Marta is located inside the Martha Washington Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Partly because it's a hotel restaurant, it's open seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Chef Nick Anderer, executive chef at Maialino (an upscale Roman restaurant in Gramercy Park), is also in charge of the food here. Pizzas are the star of the show (there are many from which to choose, ranging in price from $17 to $24 each). However, there are also several Antipasti ($8 - $17), and meat-oriented From the Wood Fire entrees ranging from $25-$29.
We sat in the upper level, where it's just a bit more quiet and you get a different view of the dining space below. Our table of four guests decided to order a variety of dishes from menu, including several antipasti, pizzas, and one entree from the grill.
We loved the Verdure Miste ($15), a seasonal salad that included greens, chickpeas, and soft boiled eggs tossed together in a tart and flavorful vinaigrette. It was refreshing, well-balanced, and each individual part was well-executed.
The Polpi ($17), or charred octopus, was delicious. The octopus was tender and had nice kick in flavor from the spicy calebrisi sauce. We especially enjoyed the bright punch from the fresh cilantro.
Even the simple Cucumber Salad was nicely executed, with a pleasant citrus flavor.
Nebrodini Arrostiti, wood fired mushrooms tossed with thyme and lemon, turned out to be one of our favorite sides. The mushrooms were tender, had hint of smokiness from the wood fire, and were perfectly seasoned.
Of course, you have to get pizza if you come to Marta. The Roman style pies are cooked for 2-3 minutes at 700F in these massive black pizza ovens whose chimneys go up to the 14th floor (!).
The pizzas were excellent. I would highly recommend the Margherita ($15), a simple pie consisting of just mozzarella and basil on their house made tomato sauce. It best showcases the crispy crust.
Nice leopard spots underneath.
Check out how thin that crust is! Unlike a Neopolitan-style pizza, which has a chewier crust that expands and rises, the Roman-style crust is super thin like a cracker.
Salsiccia ($20) with pork sausage, crimini mushrooms, mozzarella, and pecorino was hearty, flavorful, and really good.
If you want a white pizza ("Pizza Bianche"), try the Funghi ($21), which is loaded with hen of the woods and chanterelle mushrooms, red onion, thyme, and a mixture of fontina and mozzarella cheese.
One of our diners was gluten-free.
Though Marta does not offer a gluten-free crust (no pizza for my friend!), she was able to eat several other menu items, including all of our antipasti and the one entree that we ordered, Salmerino.
The grilled Arctic Char came served whole, head and tail included! On the side were ember-roasted sweet potatoes and a horseradish crema. It was a generous portion and overall a solid dish.
Instead of sweet dessert, we opted for the special cheese plate, a tasting of Ricotta three different way. I have mostly only enjoyed ricotta in its fresh form (front), so it was fun to try a few aged varieties from both cow and sheep's milk. This was really fun and quite enjoyable!
All in all, we had a really fun time at Marta. The prices are reasonable, the service is good, and the restaurant is well run. The salads are tasty and the pizzas are excellent. Because the crust is so thin, you can order several to share. Some would even say that a big eater could almost eat two pizzas by himself (!). Our table of four people ordered three pizzas, a main entree, and several antipasti.
It's really nice to finally taste that super thin Roman crust that I missed so much from Italy.
You can make reservations (through Opentable or their website) up to 28 days in advance. They do leave about half the seats open for walk-ins, so you can also try your luck especially if you show up early. Additionally, you can dine at the bar or the pizza counter, both of which only take walk-ins.
Marta New York
Martha Washington Hotel
29 E 29th St
New York, NY 10016