Monday, April 28, 2008

Pizza Never Tasted So Good

Once a year, Passover rolls around and I clear all of the off-limits foods out of my kitchen. In past years, I’ve eaten out during the holiday, but just avoided all of the breads/grains/starches that aren’t allowed. This year, I decided to test myself and take it to the next level…not eating out at all. As Miss Menu, this was definitely a huge challenge! I usually go out to dinner at least 3 times a week, and pick up lunch during work a few times too. But, I figured that it would allow me to truly appreciate the Passover story and traditions, not to mention serve as the perfect way to go easy on my wallet and my diet for 8 days.

I tried to spread out my postings so Miss Menu wouldn’t go dark for 8 days. So, while it looked like I was enjoying dinners out, that was hardly the case. It was so hard packing my lunch and eating at home for all that time! So, it is safe to say that my first meal out again to “break” Passover was even more of treat than I would have thought! Along with all the holiday traditions and meals, my family started its own tradition of breaking Passover by binging on pizza every year. And this year, although I wasn’t with my family, I still kept the tradition alive….this time with some friends. I knew exactly where I wanted to go – my favorite neighborhood pizza place that I have ordered from numerous times, but have only dined at one time (also to break Passover 2 years ago).

Libretto’s is a family-owned pizzeria that sells slices out of the front and has a sit-down Italian restaurant in the back. There is always a great debate as to what makes a great pizza, especially in New York. I have my favorites for the authentic, brick oven pizzas (like Grimaldi’s), but when it comes to the more general New York-style pizza, Libretto’s tops my list.

Walking in, I already knew exactly what I wanted…plain cheese, and a lot of it. We decided to order one plain pie and one pepperoni pie. After we ordered, we got worried that we had way too much food coming. 16 slices for 3 people. I am proud (and slightly embarrassed!) to say that we finished all of it. I accounted for 4 1/2 pieces…a new personal record! But, after basically doing the South Beach diet for 8 days and losing 8 pounds, I felt like an absurd amount of pizza was more than justified. Maybe I should start marketing the “Passover diet!”

Back to the good stuff…
While I can’t speak to the pepperoni, the plain pizza was delicious, and even better than when it’s delivered since it’s straight out of the oven. I will note that their delivery comes very quickly. The crust was cooked perfectly leaving it a little bit doughy. The sauce and cheese both had such great flavors. All together…a perfect pie.

Another factor that scored major bonus points for me was fountain soda with free refills. In NYC, free refills are very hard to come by. There is nothing worse than getting a few refills only to see $12 worth of Diet Coke on your check. I have a minor caffeine/soda addiction, so refills to go along great pizza made me a happy camper.

In addition to regular pizzas with over a dozen topping options, Libretto’s has a huge list of specialty pizzas with really interesting topping/flavor combinations. One that caught my eye for my next visit was the Pizza alla Vodka. Pizza with vodka sauce and fresh mozzarella? What could be bad?! On my first dine-in experience, I had tried the BBQ chicken pizza, which was really good too. They also have antipasti, soups, pastas, heroes, entrees, and desserts. Suffice it to say it’s an impressive menu. I have a feeling, though, that no matter how good the other dishes may be, it would be virtually impossible for me to go to Libretto’s without getting pizza. I hope the family would take that as a major compliment!

Libretto's
546 3rd Avenue
b/t 36th & 37th Street
website
Menu Pages listing

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