August 5, 2010

Totale Pizza

Yeah, pizza! Prompted by a recent review by the wonderful Serious Eats, Laurel, our friend Chris (from The Skint - if you don't know what that is, you should), and I decided to give Totale a try. We looked up the address but unfortunately seemed to have walked right past it first try that night. It's a small, open area spilling out to the street and looks just like every other pizza joint on St. Marks (only quite a bit cleaner and brighter), so we didn't notice it at first.

However, we can all attest to the fact that it's nothing like any of the other pizza joints - it's absolutely divine. This neopolitan style/brick oven pizza place has all the right ingredients and clever combinations to make it a new favorite among Laurel and me. We chose the namesake pizza, which comes with pine nuts, rosemary and red onions (and no "red sauce" as us well spoken eaters call it) and the Prosciutto E Rucola pizza, with mozz, prosciutto di parma, argula and EVOO (Rachael Ray, gross). I have to say I really liked both, albeit for entirely different reasons. Both were, perhaps, a little too salty for my likes, but the namesake pizza was an interesting combination and flavor explosion in my mouth. The pine nuts on the pizza were a nice touch to give a bit of crunch. As for the Prosciutto pizza, I had to yank off the argula (there was a lot) before I could dig in due to my aforementioned (and by aforementioned, I mean read our other blog posts) ailments. I believe this is why it basically tasted like a prosciutto di parma and mozzarella open faced...sandwich. Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but I didn't think of it as pizza - especially because I eat all pizza the New York way which means I fold it in half to make it a sandwich.

Either way, I'm interested to try the Margherita pizza, as I feel like if you fail that, you fail all. I will be back here, it's not too pricey (Totale, $10 / Prosciutto, $11 and more than enough to share) and the server was nice, pretending he was Italian and all (okay, he was...). Plus the night we went it was pretty quick service - definitely a good deal. And I can say, you'll have a totale-y good time (couldn't resist). - Jennifer

We had just left an event in the East Village, and were hungry without direction. Somehow, my brain remembered that Totale had recently opened on St Marks, which is precisely where we were. I was curious to try it, since it sprung from an agreement between an Una Pizzeria Napolina alum and a 2 Bros. Pizza owner (expensive, authentic pizza + super cheap only-good-when-you're-drunk pizza). Weird, right?

Weird, but good. It feels a little like sitting in a nice bathroom, being all white tile, but what it lacks in coziness it makes up for in bright and shiny-ness. I also like that it basically takes the tiles of the wood-burning oven and spreads them into the entire restaurant. We make pizza here! Let there be no doubt about that!

Our waiter was cheery and friendly, and hung around just enough. There's a moderate amount of seating, so no big time groups, but I'm glad they did not attempt to pack as many seats in here as humanly possible (I love you Caracas, and the close quarters is part of the charm, but fire hazard much?). The menu is small but gets the job done: basic pies (margherita, marinara, a white pie and a few others), a few appetizers, and the like. The prices are good, too, as Jennifer mentioned--we ordered two pies and still had a couple of slices left, and spent less than $10 a person including tip.

I really enjoyed the Totale pie (above). It doesn't seem like it would have enough going on, but the flavors are clean and marry well. It has a nice salty bite, with a little kick from the red onion and a little nutty crunch from the pine nuts. The crust on both pizzas was very good, not too thick, not too doughy, not too anything. I'll be back to try a couple more. -Laurel

Address: 36 St. Marks Place (between 3rd Ave & Astor Pl)
Website: Yelp
Payment: Cash Only

Delivery: no, only take out
Open Late: no

Large Group Friendly: Not quite, only a few tables inhabit this space
Bar/Happy Hour: no alcohol, so you have nothing to blame it on

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