FOOD + WINE REVIEW: Keste Wall Street 6.7.17
When we heard about Keste Pizza & Vino opening in Financial District, we found it hard to keep our cool. The West Village spot has long been our go-to for solid pizza with friends and family, especially given they are able to accommodate all types of dietary issues (gluten free, vegan) and do it well (i.e. you don't feel like you're missing out if you have Celiacs or are lactose intolerant). Finding the restaurant takes a minute, even for those of us great with Google Maps or with photographic memory. The entrance is actually on Gold Street, essentially behind the Key Foods and a little further back from the street. So think of the address as the East side of Gold Street at Ann Street.
The 5,000-square-foot space with TWO pizza high-end ovens (one wood-and-gas powered Acunto oven and one copper framed electric oven) and is designed for both date night (bar & tables in the front) and families or groups (larger tables and booths in the back) Finally, there’s a private room for their pizza school and (we assume) large, private parties. The restaurants also features large TVs that showcase what’s happening live in the kitchen. Deciding what to order at Keste is no easy feat considering the menu boasts 50 traditional and unique (“specialty”) wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza pies, featuring incredibly fresh ingredients like homemade mozzarella.
A few things observations….
-The wine list has a pretty wide price range, from $10 a glass to way above $28, offering something for everyone no matter the budget.
-The cocktails looked solid (we’re going back for the Los Tres Hermas - Don Julio Blanco Tequila, fresh pineapple purèe, fresh lime, agave nectar, habanero bitter - next time…)
-The antipasti are mostly priced by the bite (~$3 a piece), and most of the ‘bites’ are 2-bite situations (maybe 3 if you’re trying to be dainty).
-We recommend getting a slew of things to mix it up and let your group sample them all. We tried the montanarina (fried dough puff topped with signature Starita tomato sauce and grana), arancino with truffle (rice ball with fresh mozzarella and truffle cream), and the frittantina (traditional spaghetti cake with baked Italian ham and smoked buffalo mozzarella).
-The real stars of the show are the pizzas, all of which are priced between $19-$25.
Pizza-wise we ordered from the signature menu a montanara (lightly fried pizza dough, topped with signature Starita tomato sauce, imported smoked buffalo mozzarella and basil, finished in the wood-fired oven), from the rosse menu a ricotta (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella,fresh ricotta, grana, basil, extra virgin olive oil), and, from the gluten free menu (so ensure proper comparison), a funghi (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, grana, basil, extra virgin olive oil). Each pie comes out sliced into 4 slices, and can easily be serves as a personal pizza (most couples we saw at the restaurant had ordered 1 pizza per person).
The signature lightly fried pizza didn’t taste heavy at all, with a unique crust texture and the perfect balance of ingredients. There was a short debate at the table as to whether or not it needed more smoked buffalo mozzarella, but the consensus was that it was the right balance as is. The ricotta pizza was fresh and the dough we remember loving at the West Village location, getting beyond satisfactory marks across the table. As for the gluten free pizza, we know gluten free gets a bad rap as being a subpar crust offering; however, we were pleasantly surprised that you could hardly tell the difference between the gluten free and the regular crusts. In fact, someone in our party who went for the gluten free slice first didn’t even realize it, and only figured it out ten minutes later when they asked when the the gluten free pie was coming.
Overall, the experience delivered on the carbs we’ve been dreaming about. The service is a little slow, but makes up for it in friendliness. We recommend asking for a table in the back if you’re a group - the booths seem a bit more comfortable than the tables in the front, which tend to be close together and, unless you’re into making friends with strangers, aren’t the most intimate. We also recommend getting one pizza per person and sharing slices (if your dining companions ask nicely), as well as doubling down on the antipasti - it was really fun trying a variety of bites.
LBC Cheat Sheet:
-Family friendly: They accommodate strollers and kids and there’s plenty of space in the back.
-Value: Good Value. Everything is reasonably priced and high quality.
-Atmosphere: Casual. They take reservations but walk-ins are always welcome. We’re neurotic so we always make reservations, but on OpenTable, there’s usually plenty of seats
-Takeout/delivery: Check! Make sure if you’re doing delivery you call first to ensure you are within range. If you call for pick-up, it’s a very quick turnaround.
-Hours: They’re open Monday-Thursday till 11PM, Fridays-Saturdays till 11:30PM and Sundays will 10:30PM which is AWESOME considering a lot of things in the neighborhood close around 10PM.
Keste Wall Street - 77 Fulton Street