I discovered a new place for pizza in one of my stomping grounds. My mother, a sculptor and painter, has had a studio on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for 30 years. Our only neighborhood pizzeria was Delizia, a place that I love and which is close to my American heart, which red pepper flakes, oregano and sometimes pepperoni.
Today, however, I found a pizza that appeals to my Italian heart, the real deal, from Salerno. San Matteo is owned by Cirro Casella. Cirro comes to New York naturally and has a long history with the City thanks in part to his uncle, Roberto of Robertos and Trattoria Zero Otto Nove in the Bronx, Arthur Avenue neighborhood.
I tried a Pizza Marinara. Fatto come si deve, as it should be with tomato sauce, olives and anchovies. It was perfect. Light and airy but with just enough crust to be filling, I truly felt for a moment that I was in Italy having a pizza on a Sunday with friends. Pino Daniele was playing in the background and that helped to create the right atmosphere.
While I will always have Delizia in my heart, San Matteo has made a little headway. I need to go back and try their Panuozz which I heard were great. It’s nice to see the neighborhood staying alive despite the construction of the Second Avenue subway. I know I will be back.
San Matteo is moderately priced and the owner has a real love of wines from his region, Campagna. In fact, he told me that he thinks Fiano is the best pairing with Pizza. I will be sure to find out next time.