NYC Best Pizza: L’asso Takes Pizza & Toppings to a New Level

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When is the last time you ate pizza that made you say “Wow, this is really good?” For the NYC Food Guy, this happened a few weeks back at L’asso on the corner of Mott Street & Kenmare Street.  “The Ace” in Italian, L’asso features wood-fired brick oven pies which strike the perfect balance between thin, airy and crisp while still supporting the weight of the most unique and delicious toppings I’ve encountered in all of New York City.  Read on to find out why L’asso’s pies are a work of art and science and which of the eight pies I tried really stood out…

Special Margherita with pan fried crispy prosciutto, green onions and extra virgin olive oil

Pizza al Tartufo – Portobello pesto, mushrooms, mozzarella, rosemary and truffle oil

Pizza Mela – Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, asparagus, apple, truffle oil

L’Asso’s Pies are a Science, Literally

I stumbled upon L’Asso after being invited to the L’Asso Pizza Guide Release Party. An insert in the satirical newspaper The Onion, this pizza guide was anything but; it outlined everything from the history of pizza to L’Asso’s strict adherence to the Italian government’s rules on what constitutes a genuine Neapolitan pie (Denominazione di origine Controllata or Pizza D.O.C., click & scroll down for the six rules).

L’asso’s owner, Robert Benevenga, seen on the pizza guide’s cover above, is so serious about his pies that he earned a degree in engineering before perfecting his pie-making technique. To quote Benevenga in the “L’asso Pizza guide”:

“Most pizza places will scoop sauce on with a ladle first and then sprinkle cheese all over it.  So basically, the sauce acts like a slip and slide, forcing most of the hot sauce and cheese to slide out of your mouth and onto your face. … I take the round dough, place the bufalo mozzarella slices all over so they act like suction cups.  Then I pour the sauce in the valleys so each slice holds the traditional ingredients, as well as the toppings, in place.  This makes every bite separate but equal.”

Put simply by Benevenga, it’s all about “the most variety at the highest possible quality. It’s the style that I like. … thin with lots of flavor that pops.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

We are entering a new Pizza Frontier

Other than the toppings listed on a pizza delivery box, I’m inexperienced.  I was surprised, therefore, to see pies covered in toppings such as apples, pears, walnuts, and asparagus exiting the specially designed 2-door brick, wood-burning oven.  I was even more surprised how delicious everything tasted.  Pies come in three sizes 12″, 18″ and 29″ and all vary in price.

Pizza Mela – Mozzarella, gorganzola, asparagus, apple, truffle oil

Prices: $14, $20, $26 (below)

The apple and asparagus really lightened up a pizza in danger of being too heavy due to the two cheeses. The truffle oil subtly added an earthy, faintly spicy complexity to the overall flavor.  Texturally, the hot oven and thin pie allowed the apples and asparagus to remain juicy and crisp.

Pizza alla Roba – Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Pear & Walnuts

Prices: $13, $19, $25

Whereas the Pizza Mela (above) combined several flavors which tend to fight for the attention of your taste buds, the Pizza all Roba takes a different approach: the two stronger ingredients (Gorgonzola, Pear) are balanced out by the two quieter ingredients (mozzarella, walnuts).  The result is a delicious confluence of flavor and texture and a pie which I’d definitely eat again.

Pizza al Tartufo – Portobello pesto, mushroom, mozzarella, rosemary and truffle oil

Prices: $13, $19, $25

Lacking any serious pesto flavor, this pizza is dominated by earthy ingredients which are still tasty and fresh.  The rosemary provides a bright undertone to counteract the mushroom and truffle oil. Not nearly my favorite pie, but still tasty.

Pizza Margherita – Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, oregano, basil and extra virgin olive oil

Prices: $10, $16, $22

Oregano and fresh basil unite to overtake the Margherita.  The sauce is tasty but takes a backstage to the olive oil coated crust, which tasted even better when mixed with cheese, sauce and basil.  I didn’t get to try the Pizza Margherita D.O.C. (bufalo mozzarealla instead of fresh mozzarella), but the result would be an even lighter and more delicate pie.

Pizza Mascarpone Tartufata – Mascarpone cheese, portobello mushrooms, Gorgonzola and truffle oil

Prices: $14, $20, $26

My least favorite pie. The mascarpone melted into a dangerously hot cheese sauce and overtook the pizza.  I’ll pass on this pie next time.

Special Margherita Pie – Mozzarella, fried, crispy prosciutto, green onions, extra virgin olive oil

Prices and Availability Vary, Call Ahead to find out the weekly specials 212-219-2353

This was the first and most memorable pie I tasted. The prosciutto was so fried and crisp, I initially mistook it for bacon.  The salt factor is balanced out by the bright sauce and slightly sweet green onions.  L’asso’s specials menu changes weekly (pizza and dessert), so you may not find this pie upon your visit.

Pizza Snow White – Fresh mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil

Prices: $11, $17, $23

At first I found this pie to be bland and underwhelming, then I discovered a bite with toasted chopped garlic (2nd photo below, top left corner) and found what I was looking for. Be strategic with your bites if you order this pie, try to get garlic in every bite.

Pizza 4 Formaggi – Provolone, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella and Parmesan

Prices: $13, $19, $25

A surprisingly mundane combo of cheeses. None truly stand out and the flavor was lacking an expected sharpness.

So Which is the Owner’s Favorite Pizza?

Our natural inclination would be to assume that after four years of business, Robert Benevenga probably enjoys some strange varieties of pizza. Surprisingly, his favorite pie at L’asso is the Margherita DOC XX.  The “XX” is what makes this pie his favorite, but you can only discover the secret in the L’asso pizza guide or by heading to L’asso to find out first hand.

L’asso

192 Mott Street at Kenmare Street
New York, NY 10012
212-219-2353
Hours: Sun. – Wed. 12PM – 12AM
Thurs. – Sat. 12PM – 3AM
Delivery Hours: 12PM – 11PM
Lunch Special: Mon. – Fri. $10 panini with soup or salad and a coffee or soda
Happy Hour: Mon. – Fri. 4PM – 7PM, $1 slice, $3 Brooklyn Lager on Tap
Brunch: Sat. & Sun. until 5PM – $18 for a 12-inch pizza and unlimited mimosas or L’asso spiked iced teas
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52 Responses to “NYC Best Pizza: L’asso Takes Pizza & Toppings to a New Level”

  1. Phil Says:

    I don’t even need to read this post. I’m sold on this pizza simply from the pictures! Will definitely check it out. Thanks FG!

  2. Pizza With The Works, Please | The Feedbag Says:

    […] has their own favorite neighborhood street pizza). But NYC Food Guy has a new name he wants to add to the mix. L’asso, on Mott and Kenmare Streets, isn’t getting his vote because it’s the most simplistic […]

  3. Jack Says:

    This looks great, have you ever been to Rosarios on Stanton and Orchard? They have a great slice called the Sofia – Fresh Mozz, red sauce, and sliced plum tomatoes. Everytime I am lost in that area I stumble in cause I crave it.

  4. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Phil,

    Good stuff dude, I’m happy to provide. If you end up at L’asso, let me know how it goes and what you get. Definitely keep an eye on the specials because I have a feeling thats where they’ll really shine. If I had to point you towards standard menu pies, however, I’d strongly reccomend the apple/asparagus/gorganzola and the pear/walnut/gorganzola.

    Jack,

    I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Rosario’s after a night on the LES. It’s almost inevitable not ending up there. They also have a crazy cheeseburger slice, with whole slices of American cheese, if my memory serves me correctly. Next time you’re on Orchard, however, you should really check out Georgia’s East Side BBQ, if you haven’t already. Their $20 Rib platter with 2 sides is one of the best deals in the city and their fried chicken is fresh, crisp and delicious. Polish is all off with some banana pudding from Sugar Sweet Sunshine bakery on Norfolk and Rivington and you’re in business. Check out this link for all the pertinent details

  5. Alexandra Bruskoff Says:

    These pizzas all look unbelievably delicious! Living in Texas, I miss good pizza. Notice I didn’t even say great pizza- that’s how far I’ve fallen! Have an extra slice for me!

  6. Amanda Says:

    Holy shit, that mushroom one looks sooooo delicious.

  7. foodie Says:

    that pizza looks delicous!!!! have you ever had buffalo chicken pizza!

  8. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Amanda,

    It was definitely delicious. Where’s your go to pizza spot?

    Foodie,

    Buffalo Chicken pizza, when done right is excellent. The best I’ve ever had is at Joanne’s Pizza in Roslyn, Long Island. What makes their buffalo (and bbq) chicken pizza so good is that there’s chicken on every bite and the sauce is great. You can see photos of this pizza in my post on my Last Meal.

  9. foodie Says:

    not sure id go to long island for pizza. anyway what would be your ideal last meal?

  10. foodie Says:

    also what is your favorite beverage? both alcoholic and non.

  11. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Foodie,

    My last meal would consist of a lot. There’d be a bacon cheeseburger from brookly diner, a burger from houstons, fries from houstons, ribs from houstons, banana pudding from sugar sweet sunshine, trainwreck cheese fries from virgils, spicy pad thai from chelsea thai, buffalo wings, pizza from adrienne’s pizza bar and from aj’s pizza in queens, brownie sundae from houstons, some buffalo and bbq pizza, a half a pastrami sandwich from ben’s deli… that may just be the tip of the iceberg. How about you?

    My favorite beverages are beer (not dark) and Seltzer. Yes, seltzer. Specifically the Vintage brand.

  12. foodie Says:

    my last meal would be two chilli cheese rippers from rutts hutt in clifton nj, a double cheeseburger from the shake shack, the h6 from lennys, porterhouse from the old homestead, the slab bacon from lugers, a hot dog from rudys bar and grill, 4 shots of wild turkey and 15 buweiser cans.

  13. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Foodie,

    That… sounds… awesome.

  14. foodie Says:

    you’ve had the rippers at rutts hutt? you really are the food guy!!!

  15. AG Says:

    Hey NYCFG, great to see you hitting up a new spot. Unfortunately I can’t agree, but hey that’s cool. I dined in at L’asso and also got take out and while I found the pizza good, it was hardly worthy of being propped up on a pedestal. I admit, great ingredients, oven, methods, etc., but I found the end product less than the individual ingredients. Oh well, keep it up and nice to see you got some respect on the Feedbag. Keep me posted on when we’re doing that Brooklyn pizza dinner.

  16. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Foodie,

    Anytime there’s deep fried hot dogs, I’m there.

    AG,

    I don’t think I’m putting the pizza on a pedestal. I think L’asso is very good pizza but not the best in the city. I just like the quality of the pie and the diversity of the toppings. It’s always refreshing to do something different, as you alluded to, and that’s what I’m giving L’asso credit for.

  17. foodie Says:

    bravo food guy. have you ever had the grease trucks at rutgers? named the best sandwich by maxim magazine.

  18. the feedbag Says:

    We linked you in the body of the piece!

  19. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Foodie,

    Believe it or not, I haven’t been to the Rutgers food truck. We all have aspirations. Maybe we should make our own. What’s on your sandwich? Are you from Jersey?

  20. Before Sunrise Says:

    I’m trying to stay away from this site it makes me want to give into all these temptations! All those pizzas look GREAT! I love the fruit, cheese and nut combos.

  21. AG Says:

    Agreed, doing something different is welcome in my book. You’re right, not putting it on a pedestal, though there sure are some that do. I hear L’asso may open another place so obviously business is good. I tried out this great spot in Chinatown which you should check out. I’ll post a little review on it, but just savor these three words, fried pork chops…

    Talk soon.

    – AG (always-eating.blogspot.com

  22. Phil Says:

    Foodie – Rutgers food truck? How far is that from NYC. I just did a google search and came up with some stuff about Rutgers’ grease trucks. Is this the same thing?

    This sounds incredible:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,129425,00.html

  23. foodie Says:

    yes phil that is the same thing. boy did that article bring me back to my glory days. partying up and down frat row. keg stands. making out with 6 or 7 freshman girls a night. beer pong. but no matter what, my night always ended with me getting baked with a few buddies and hitting the grease trucks at around 4 am. usually went with the fat coco which was chicken cutlet, over easy eggs, mozz sticks, fries and marinara sauce. of course i would add hot sauce.

    nycgf-im having a tough time coming up with a sandwich, what would you put on yours!

  24. Amanda Says:

    NYCFG-
    My favorite pizza in all of NYC is L&B’s in Brooklyn. It’s a little different than typical NY style pizza, but the sauce is TO DIE FOR. The sauce is on top and the cheese is baked into the crust underneath. Annnnnndd… now my mouth is watering. 😉

  25. Hoss Says:

    WOW! I need some of that right now!

  26. kristen Says:

    what happened to my post from before?

    i asked foodie where rudy’s hotdog place is — where is it foodie, jersey??

    and i also wanted to know from before sunrise — what are nut-combos???

  27. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Before Sunrise,

    You said it, the flavor combos are what make these pies so great.

    AG,

    Were you misled by the title NYC Best Pizza? Keep me in the loop in regard to the fried pork chops, sounds great. I just read something the other day on Serious Eats: NY about a place serving deep fried chicken and pork cutlets and you make your own tonkatsu sauce to put on top. Check it out.

    foodie,

    Here’s my sandwich:
    Chicken cutlet, mozzarella sticks, crispy fries, onion rings, steak, bacon, melted american, light schmear of Russian dressing, gravy.

    Amanda,

    Ha, well said, L&B Spumoni Gardens is awesome. I’ve been there before and you’re right about the sauce, its definitely the best aspect of their upside down Sicilian. If you can’t get out to Brooklyn for L&B though, there’s a great upside down Sicilian slice at NY Pizza Suprema on 8th Ave and 31st Street.Check out my review here.

    Hoss,

    Good to hear from you, how’s the pizza in Boston? What’s your best spot?

    kristen,

    Sorry I deleted your comment by accident before.

    Rudy’s Bar is a NY Relic, it’s on 45th street and 9th Avenue. No beer is more than $4 and pitchers are cheap. You can see their Rudy’s Blonde & Dark and the hot dogs in my Cheap Late Night Eats review.

    As far as your “nut-combo” statement, why don’t you read that sentence again and reassess. Before Sunrise is talking about the combo of flavors from the cheese, walnuts and fruit on the pizza at L’asso.

  28. Phil Says:

    NOW WE’RE TALKIN, THE FOOD GUY IS BACK!!!!!!

    FG that’s a ridiculously filthy sandwich, but i like your style! Chicken cutlet and steak on the same sandwich?!?!?!?! That’s blasphemous!

    I would go chicken cutlet, mozz sticks, onion rings, fresh mozz, swiss, bacon on a garlic bread hero.. WOW! 🙂

  29. Phil Says:

    oh wait, i forgot to mention the russian dressing…

  30. Amanda Says:

    Oh, and not that this really fits with the pizza posts, but there is this amazing little cafe that just opened on 36th and 7th ave. It’s called Macaron… and besides these amazing little macaron cookies (that taste as good as they do in France) there are amazing menu options like the Monsieur Croque sandwich and the French Caesar Salad… And the best part is that everyone that works there is french! The guy that served me even said “bon appetit” in his little french mock turtleneck. no joke.

  31. Amanda Says:

    did i say amazing enough? no?

  32. Phil Says:

    hmmm.. do they have steak friete? that’s really the only french food i’m interested in..

  33. Amanda Says:

    I don’t think they have Steak Frite… but the sandwiches all looked delish.

  34. foodie Says:

    hahaha if you combine amanda and phil into one name it would be really funny.

    anyway, my ideal sandwich would contain: cheesteak meat, chicken fries from bk, chorizo, american cheese, bloomin onion pedals, jalapenos, waffle fries, provolone cheese and a bit of bbq sauce.

  35. Phil Says:

    Thanks for the knowledge Amanda….. will check it out.

    Does anyone know where I can get some African food? I don’t really know the difference between cuisine from different african countries, so excuse my stupidity. would love to learn though!

  36. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Phil,

    Garlic bread hero! Yes! Now you’re talking Phil. I can’t believe I forgot about that. That’s what it’s all about. As far as African food goes, you need to figure out what the best country of food to eat for you is. The Village Voice’s “Fork in the Road” Best of List for 2008 has a myriad of cultural food gems. Check out the link and look for some quality African Reccomendations.

    Amanda,

    That’s really funny you mention Macaron, my buddy brought me some macarons yesterday from that place and they were really good. I had a nutella with chocolate macaron and he had the all vanilla, said it was great.

    Foodie,

    Damn dude, that’s a no joke sandwich right there. I didn’t realize you were gonna get brand specific on me. I love the usage of the waffle fries, I think that could be key. I’d go with the spicy waffle variety. The chicken fries are great too because they’re skinny and wouldn’t take up too much space.

  37. foodie Says:

    just checked out the village voice list and my favorite place on this whole earth was listed. finally they got somthing right!

    “Best Mouth Bomb
    Sullivan Street Bakery
    One of the latest products to appear at Sullivan Street Bakery—which isn’t located on Sullivan Street anymore, but in Hell’s Kitchen—is bombolini: sugary spheroids filled with luscious, yolky custard. They don’t have a hole, so don’t you dare call them doughnuts (but, really, what’s the diff?).”

    if you havent had a mouth bomb yet, do yourself a favor and go out and get as many as you can this weekend!

  38. Amanda Says:

    amandaphil? I don’t get it.

  39. Phil Says:

    Pause. What is a mouthbomb?????

    Amanda, he has combined our names to make “AmandaPhil”… which he is probably laughing at because it sounds like “A Man To Fill”… pretty good if I may say so myself.

  40. Amanda Says:

    foodie is weird.

  41. Darwin Says:

    You need to try the one with Capicola. I love the place. They have great bruschetta too.

  42. AG Says:

    NYCFG, good stuff. I saw that article myself, looks great. The fried porkchops were spectacular, I mean how could they not be. Been eating pretty well lately, dell’anima, chinatown, delicious banh-mi which I wrote about and tonight Ssam bar which was awesome as usual.

  43. kristen Says:

    omgz i would pay sooo muchh money for that apple/asparagus pizza right now ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. alison Says:

    I found this place a few years ago. I originally tried to go to Lombardi’s (down the block) when we noticed this place. It was empty the entire time but now when we go it is packed. This is one of my favorites. Lucali’s and DiFara’s being my other 2 favs.

  45. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    alison,
    thanks for the comment, i’m glad to hear things are going well at l’asso, it’s well deserved their pizza is unique and delicious.

  46. johnnycuz Says:

    Pizza is very hard to comment on,everyone has their favorite joint and style of pizza.Personally i love Rosa’s pizza on 69th st. in maspeth,their grand ma and rosa sicilian are both exceptional.Their sauce is what makes their pizza so great,plum tomatoe on the grand ma,and the cheese on the shell of the sicilian with their sauce on top sprinkeled parmiganno and olive oil to die for

  47. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    johnnycuz,
    Rosa’s eh? You’re not the first person to mention that place to me. Your description of the pizza sounds great. Definitely going to have to make a move over there. Is it reacheable by subway?

  48. Johnnycuz Says:

    FOODGUY:In todays pizzerias evrything is razzle dazzle,not at Rosa’s.It’s tradition that has been passed from brother to brother,and there are 8 of them.With plenty of stores in both Queens and Long Island,so they must be doing something right.In the Maspeth area alone there are 3 stores,69th st.,Freshpond rd. right off Metropolitan Ave. and also Metropolitan Ave. at the corner of 78 th st..I hope that gives you a choice so that public transportation is accessible.Their sauces,cheeses,dough are what make the difference.And their pies are always cooked to perfection,with a char on both the bottom of the shell and the crust.So FG when you get the chance to experience what the Troia brothers have been doing for many years give me a shout,i know you wont be disappointed

  49. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Johnny Cuz,
    Sounds pretty serious man. I couldnt agree with you more, the simple plain slice is a lost art. The pizza in Manhattan mainly sucks at most slice joints. I’ll look into the public transportation possibilities and let you know if I’m headed to Rosa’s.

  50. Lil NYC Food Guy Says:

    Just stumbled across this post before passing out and i gotta say bro I’m a little mad we haven’t gone to L’Asso yet. My stomach has been rumbling since because the pics honestly remind me of some of the better slice joints i went to in Rome. They don’t do the round pie slice joints over there, but their pies are usually wider versions of these bad boys. Damn, I’m hungry. Mario’s it is.

    -Waiting on Donnie’s…back and better than ever

  51. The NYC Food Guy Says:

    Lil NYC Food Guy,
    Say no more. First stop upon your return home is L’Asso. Serious pizza off the beaten path. I’m looking forward to hearing how it compares to the real stuff you tried.

  52. Jane Says:

    I don’t care how good the food looks or how good it is but if they have 24 violations points from the NYC Health Dept, I would not go there. I mean for ROACHES and MICE and food NOT PROTECTED from potential source of CONTAMINATION! DISGUISTING!

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