Michele and I first met Ciro Verde many years ago when he had a pizza restaurant called “Da Ciro” on Lexington Avenue. The restaurant featured Ciro’s excellent thin crispy crust pizza. At the time, we were writing our pizza book, “Pizza Any Way You Slice It” and I was working as the wine director at I Trulli Restaurant. Michele and I asked Ciro to come to I Trulli and demonstrate his pizza making technique. Ciro learned to make pizza in Naples and he taught us several tricks. One of the highlights was his pizza stuffed with robiola cheese and drizzled with white truffle oil, which he claimed to have invented. We were happy to see that it is now the specialty of the house at Ciro’s recently opened restaurant, Coco Pazzeria, which he opened with the well-known restauranteur Pino Luongo.
Located on Spring Street in far western Soho, it is the first of two planned locations for Coco Pazzeria. It’s a casual place, with tables spilling onto the sidewalk, comfortable booths, and Italian movies and soccer games showing on tv’s over the long bar.
We started with East Coast Oysters. Oysters are a specialty here. These were small and briny and very fresh.
Buzzetti — The menu described buzzetti as open faced mini calzoni. There were several variations. We tried the Bomba, stuffed with stracchino cheese, Bomba Calabrese (a spicy chili condiment), and mortadella. Candied walnuts were an accompaniment.
We shared a Carciofi Crudi salad consisting of thinly sliced raw artichokes, arugula and shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It was lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil.
Pizza Margherita-tomato sauce, fiordilatte mozzarella and fresh basil. Ciro’s pizzas are thin and crisp, which makes them seem very light.
Pizza Amatriciana had a spicy chunky tomato sauce, onions, guanciale, pecorino Romano. The waitress offered us the house made spicy extra virgin olive oil to drizzle as a condiment, but we found the toppings to already have plenty of heat.
Time for dessert. Tiramisu – Without a doubt, one of the best I have ever had. Ciro devised the recipe himself and it is outstanding.
Ciro sent us this dessert, a sweet version of the aforementioned buzzetti, filled with ricotta and amarena cherries.
A good espresso.
When we went, the restaurant did not have their liquor license but expect to get it soon. The service was friendly and professional and everything on the menu is $20 or under
Ciro with pizzaiolo Juan Pablo Andrade, his friend for 30 years.
The location we visited is in West Soho at 307 Spring St., New York, NY 10013, Telephone: 646 850 1003.
A second location is coming soon to the Upper East Side.