Monday, August 20, 2012

A Visit To L’asso EV — Pizza, Pasta & A Whole Lot More In The East Village

By: Anne M. Raso 

L’asso EV has been touting that they have the “Best Pizza In NYC”—well the pizza is pretty darn good because they made their own dough and use the softest homemade mozz this side of Italy, but they offer so much more. The atmosphere can only be described as “casual East Village” hipster but the quality of the ingredients is through the roof, from farm-fresh daily produce to artisan cheeses. Their pizza dough is made of organic unbleached and umbromated flour and the sauce is made of organic tomatoes. There are gluten free pizzas and pasta available for those with gluten allergies as well.
The Bar Area
What were our favorites from our recent visit? Well, we tasted at least eight dishes including their little known the D.O.C. Bufalina Pizza Bagels ($6). This might sound rather common, but they made their own bagels here and they are not much like the traditional kind. They are super-soft on the inside and make for a much different pizza experience. These are actually a SECRET item on the menu—although we hear that that will be changing soon. This humble but happening pizza bagel features “bufalina mozz,” extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and homemade sauce—but the staff will customize these circular delights to just how you like them and you can literally ask for anything that comes on their regular pizzas. It’s the perfect size portion for one and the perfectly well-rounded and filling meal if a salad is added.
D.O.C. Buffalina Pizza Bagel
Another unique pre-entrée winner was the Fried Tomatoes appetizer ($14). No, they were not green! They were luscious, big slices of Jersey tomato deep fried in homemade plain breadcrumbs, unbleached flour and organic brown eggs and topped with fresh mozz that was so soft, it melted in your mouth—and if you closed your eyes, you could swear you were in Florence. The tomato slices were cut thick enough that they remained tender and juicy instead of getting dried out (between 1/3” and 1/2” thick). We will be going back for this dish - the portion is so large and filling!
Fried Tomatoes
Our main pizza selection was the Muffaletta Pizza ($18) which did taste little like the famous New Orleans sandwich but had fine Italian cold cuts and cheese including top grade sopressata and mortadella. It did not have that many green olives on it, but the veggie assortment added to the large thick pizza more than made up for that.
Muffaletta Pizza
We also had to have Eda’s Meatballs ($11). The meatballs are kept simple—there is not a lot of egg and breadcrumb in the mix. If you prefer you meatballs to be more meat than anything else, try these. The homemade sauce—made with San Marzano tomatoes—is a winner on everything it tops!
Eda's Meatballs
The Gnocchi Portofino was served in fresh San Marzano tomato sauce with a ½-3/4 side of fresh ricotta was tender and fresh, There is no “rustic” Southern Italian dish like homemade pasta with tomato sauce and these morsels melted in our mouths like ice cream. We loved the softness and lack of chewiness that you usually can find in homemade gnocchi—are only criticism is that we had to ask for some grated Parmesan/Romano to go with it and that the sauce needed a spicier kick to make up for the simple taste of the pasta ($13). Pumpkin Gnocchi with sage and parmigiano is also a regular on the L’asso EV menu—we will be checking it out the next time we go there.
Gnocchi Portofino
Our favorite dessert was one of L’asso’s famous Cheesecake Of The Week selections ($8). The week we went, the selection was the Blackberry/Raspberry cheesecake. The cheese filling tasted creamy and fresh but not too sweet and the crust was more like a fresh pie crust than the traditional graham cracker crust. We also recommend the Warm Pear Tarte—it’s made with fresh Bartlett pears and is a huge portion topped off with confectioner’s sugar and a scoop of homemade cinnamon gelato ($8). Not surprisingly, chef Jackie Gibson confesses that baking desserts is one of her great passions in the kitchen.
Warm Pear Tarte
So we will be heading back to L’asso EV—the food is as fresh as it gets, the service is fast and friendly and the hipster décor and perfect East Village location make it the perfect restaurant when you want to eat on the cheap and get large portions that are much more about quality than quantity. The back room is the perfect party spot, so consider it for a future affair where you want to impress—but have a “casual cool” atmosphere.

L’Asso EV
107 First Avenue
New York, NY 10003
L'asso EV on Urbanspoon

Photos: Anne M. Raso

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