Little Italy was thought by some New Yorkers to be a thing of the past as the neighborhood quickly began to shrink. Today the neighborhood is on the rebound with a reinvigorating Italian restaurant scene that is back serving al dente spaghetti pasta and Italian dishes that made the neighborhood famous. Besides the authentic Italian dishes, Little Italy has been know for its pizza. A new pizzeria, 180, has just debuted to reclaim the neighborhood as a hotbed of Italian fare.
Opening today, 180 is located on the second floor of a tenement building on the corner of Hester and Mulberry Streets at, you guessed it, 180 Hester Street. This wood-burning pizza speakeasy of sorts is hidden but for good reason. The eatery gives diners an authentic taste, as well as a little family history, as diners enjoy their freshly handmade pies. Owned by Little Italy natives, Louis and Anthony Fontana, who grew up working in their family’s restaurant Giovanna’s (downstairs from 180), opened their new joint venture in a space that pays tribute to their grandmother who still calls 180 Hester Street home. With seating for only 36 the dining room displays knick-knacks and even a chandelier from their grandmother’s upstairs apartment.
Leading this off-the-beaten-path pizzeria is acclaimed pizzialo Salvatore Olivella. Guests in the black and white dining room can watch Pizzialo Olivella in the open kitchen while he cooks round Neapolitan pies for 45 seconds at 1000 degrees in an oak and cherry-wood burning oven. Olivella’s signature pie is an oblong-shaped pizza that requires two minutes to cook and is enough food for three pizza lovers. All the ingredients used at 180 are certified by the Italian government’s Verace Pizza Napoletana which regulates the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza around the world. Olivella uses San Felice flour for his dough, uncooked San Marzano tomatoes for his sauce, and the cheese is a house made fior di latte (cow’s milk mozzarella).
Menu highlights include the Tartufata Della Cardiniale with prosciutto cotto, Parmigiano, porcini mushrooms, basil, white truffle oil, fior di latte, and San Marzano tomato sauce and the Agrodolce Maria with gorgonzola, pear, Parmigiano, walnuts, and fior di latte. 180 also offers a whimsical array of antipasti such as the Sushi Parma with fior di latte wrapped prosciutto di San Daniele. Think of this as an Italian maki sushi roll. Also on the menu are baked pastas, calzones, fried pizzas, and the epic La Vesuviana, a hybrid creation of half pizza and half calzone filled with toppings of your choice. If you manage to save room for dessert after all that pizza 180 offers an ethereal zeppoli, assorted flavors of gelato, and a calzone filled with Nutella.
180 also offers 90 minute pizza making classes directed by Pizzialo Olivella where you will learn the secrets of making a true Neapolitan pizza.
For reservations, to book a cooking class, or view the full menu check out the 180 website.