Author Topic: Keste in NYC  (Read 8247 times)

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Offline scpizza

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Keste in NYC
« on: March 29, 2009, 09:58:56 PM »
Keste formally opened in the West Village tonight so I went down for a first taste.  This is Roberto Caporuscio's place.

Overall, I'd rate it technically strong but spiritually wanting.

This was an authentic Neapolitan pizza with no compromises to appease U.S. tastes.  I respect that.  The oversized Neapolitan wood oven produced a nicely baked top - even, browned, and charred very well.  The bottom, not as much, but still acceptable.

Cornicione texture was excellent - light and airy with a thin, crisp exterior.  It deliciously collapsed in the mouth when bitten into.  A home run that.  Unfortunately, moving inward under the sauce revealed at least one gummy patch of undercooked dough (see picture).  Crust flavor was what you might expect with commercial yeast - a mild, pleasant yeasty taste that is otherwise unremarkable compared to how a wild yeast crust can be.

Ingredients were simple and true to Neapolitan tradition, but strayed from having the flavor impact they might have.  The sauce was a good simple San Marzano but came off too fresh and bright.  The frozen-then-thawed bufala mozzarella from Italy tried hard but lacked flavor and had a slightly rubbery texture.  The oil was so spare it could hardly be tasted.  The basil was good, but like the other ingredients was unintegrated.

To me, integration is the difference between a simple amalgamation of good ingredients and a great new harmonious flavor that becomes greater than its parts as they all speak with one voice.

I can taste the soul in a UPN pizza.  I can taste the soul in a Motorino pizza.  Keste pizza is technically very correct and obedient to tradition, but I could not taste the same soul in it.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2009, 05:07:00 PM by scpizza »


Offline tdeane

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2009, 04:26:47 AM »
I just don't understand why people go for frozen buffalo mozzarella vs fresh cows milk. I would take fresh cow's milk mozzarella any day. I'm sure if I could get buffalo mozzarella made the same day I use it I would prefer it over cow's milk, but I can't. I can have fresh cow's milk mozzarella every day, so I choose that.

Offline shango

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2009, 08:23:07 AM »
Didn't the place just open yesterday?  It always bothers me to see the "reviews" start being posted so soon after a place opens..  Give 'em a chance to get their groove.  Also, I'm just not sure about tasting the "soul", it's a pizza, not a person.

Oh well, I guess you open yourself up to this when you open up shop.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2009, 03:07:12 PM by Steve »
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Offline scpizza

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2009, 10:00:10 AM »
They were serving pizza to reviewers and passers-by unofficially over the last few days, but decided they were ready to go public with their product and open officially yesterday.  I think it is eminently fair to review a restaurant after that point.

"Soul" is a metaphor for the concepts I talked about - extreme time, attention, and care put into the selection and integration of flavors and textures.  I consider that a totally valid basis to evaluate any food dish, including pizza.

Roberto, who was working the oven last night, has made pizza in Naples and is a pizza consultant who has advised and helped launch a number of Neapolitan pizza restaurants over the past few years.  He also teaches classes on Neapolitan pizzamaking.  I'd be surprised if he needs more time to "get his groove."

I thought Roberto produced a good pizza.  I just did not find it to be a great pizza.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2009, 11:59:50 AM by scpizza »

Offline tdeane

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2009, 02:06:22 PM »
Didn't the place just open yesterday?  It always bothers me to see the "reviews" start being posted so soon after a place opens..  Give 'em a chance to get their groove.  Also, I'm just not sure about tasting the "soul", it's a pizza, not a person.

Oh well, I guess you open yourself up to this when you open up shop.

*edit*  Tdeane, how do you manage to make every comment about a new pizzeria into a chance to plug your place?   :-D

When did I mention my place? My comment was about cheese.  >:(

Offline tdeane

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2009, 02:10:43 PM »
I just went through my posts and as far as I can tell, I have never mentionted my place on any thread that wasn't about my place. So I'm not really sure why you attacked me like that.

Offline Essen1

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2009, 02:28:51 PM »
Cat fight! Cat fight!  ;D
Mike

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Offline shango

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2009, 03:18:28 PM »
I suppose I could have been confused, I seem to recall another thread being hijacked..maybe I was wrong.  My apologies to you,tdeane.

scpizza, I know Roberto's history.  Thanks.  I stand by my "review" of your "review".  I think you insult the man very much by saying he hasn't put any "soul" in his pizza.  He has been at this for many, many, years.  If he wasn't passionate, he wouldn't do it.

Anyway, I am not trying to start trouble or lead this thread astray.

I wish Roberto the best of luck and can't wait to try his pizza.
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Offline scpizza

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2009, 12:30:42 PM »
No problem, everyone of course has his own opinions of different pizzas, and I look forward to hearing yours after you've tried it.

I do believe critiquing a particular food dish and personally insulting a chef are not the same thing.  To be clear, I am _not_ claiming Roberto isn't passionate nor that he hasn't worked hard to put "soul" into his pizza.  On the contrary I admire and greatly respect his devoted championing of authentic Neapolitan pizza.

I am merely reporting what I (one person) tasted (with my taste buds) when I tried the pizza.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2009, 12:52:57 PM by scpizza »

Offline mmarston

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2009, 05:46:35 PM »
I also see no good reason to use frozen buffalo mozzarella. There's plenty of great fresh cows milk mozzarella in NYC and you can get fresh buffalo mozzarella from Vermont. I don't know if the Bufala di Vermont mozzarella is available in commercial quantities but it is sold in a few stores in the Northeast.

I too feel strongly that a restaurant should not be seriously reviewed until after the dust settles.

I'm often in the neighborhood and can't wait to try Keste.

Michael
« Last Edit: March 31, 2009, 05:48:41 PM by mmarston »
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Offline David

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2009, 07:29:55 PM »
There is a noticeable difference between cows and bufala as far as taste and texture is concerned,you pay a premium for bufala and imo it's worth it.The The US produced bufala is not of the same quality as the imported that I have tasted.Freezing cheese that is then cooked has had little impact that I have personally noticed.Like many raw frozen foods,the way they are thawed will have the most impact on the final product.
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Offline tdeane

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2009, 10:06:41 PM »
There is a noticeable difference between cows and bufala as far as taste and texture is concerned,you pay a premium for bufala and imo it's worth it.The The US produced bufala is not of the same quality as the imported that I have tasted.Freezing cheese that is then cooked has had little impact that I have personally noticed.Like many raw frozen foods,the way they are thawed will have the most impact on the final product.
I disagree. I think freshness is the most important thing. I have yet to try an imported mozzarella di bufala that is as good as a fior di latte made and eaten the same day.

Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2009, 10:15:19 PM »
SC,  what type of pizza is that,  meaning why are there fresh cherry tomatoes on that.  I would expect some gumminess here and there with those on it.  Is that how the Margarita is standard,  or is this a different pizza?  just wondering.  -marc
« Last Edit: March 31, 2009, 10:17:55 PM by widespreadpizza »

Offline scott r

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2009, 10:46:17 PM »
Roberto has always made a pizza that looks like that.  The small amount of uncooked dough is probably not moisture from the fresh cherry tomatoes.   Im not saying it's a good or a bad thing, but I just want to support the thought that Roberto has made thousands of pies in his life using the same mixer and oven at Keste.  I agree that he doesn't really need a warm up period for the place to be judged fairly.  There are many styles of pizza even in naples, even though they are all doing the same basic pizza.  some are very well done, some are less cooked, etc. yet they are all good pizza.   

Offline scpizza

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2009, 09:34:57 AM »
That is the "Regina Margherita."  The regular Margherita had cow mozzarella, but I wanted the bufala that only comes on the Regina.

Offline Matthew

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2009, 10:56:44 AM »
My question is why the frozen bufala mozzarella?  I'm pretty sure that Anthony from UPN uses fresh, so why wouldn't Roberto?  Convenience?  Scott; any idea? ???

Offline tdeane

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2009, 11:18:15 AM »
My question is why the frozen bufala mozzarella?  I'm pretty sure that Anthony from UPN uses fresh, so why wouldn't Roberto?  Convenience?  Scott; any idea? ???
He uses american mozzarella di bufala now.

Offline Matthew

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2009, 11:22:15 AM »
He uses american mozzarella di bufala now.

Hmm.  I guess he got fed up with the inconsistencies when dealing with imported perishables.

Offline scott r

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2009, 11:30:14 AM »
My question is why the frozen bufala mozzarella?  I'm pretty sure that Anthony from UPN uses fresh, so why wouldn't Roberto?  Convenience?  Scott; any idea? ???

Roberto works with and at times for Fred Mortati of orlando foods, the guy that brings Caputo flour, La Torrente tomatoes, and a number of other high end Italian products into the US. They have very recently introduced this frozen buffala product.   Fred is actually a forum member with a few posts, so maybe he will chime in and explain more about the product.  From what I understand this frozen buffala is a brand new product using a new process that has never been done before.  The product and the special freezing process is meant to combat the delay in shipping, and the resulting "not as fresh as it is in Italy" problem that is caused by the distance that Buffala has to travel to get to us here in the US.  My guess is that Roberto would not be using this product if he didn't think it was superior to what he could otherwise get.  I suppose it is possible that Keste is financially involved with Fred, as Robertos previous pizzeria Amano was, and that could be effecting the decision of what cheese to use, but again, I think they are going to use what they think is the best cheese for the job.  
« Last Edit: April 01, 2009, 11:32:13 AM by scott r »

Offline David

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Re: Keste in NYC
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2009, 12:18:30 PM »
I think it is worth noting that before Roberto Caporuscio became a pizzaiolo,he was involved in the dairy/ cheese industry in Italy.I would hazard an educated guess that he knows as much (if not more )than anyone on this forum about the production and quality of types of mozzarella and availability.I would choose to hold and respect his opinion in high regard concerning this particular product as I'm sure that he could have procured any that he wanted.
Fred @ Orlando also represents and imports some of the finest products available and I'm sure there is good reason that he chose Roberto to educate and introduce some of his products to his customers,
regards,
David
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