A few years ago, when I worked in the slightly no man’s land neighborhood of midtown-ish, just north of Gramercy but not quite Murray Hill, there were very few food options. Dos Caminos was basically all we had, and sometimes Houston’s (now Hillstone, which appears to be mostly the same but under a new name). In the last few years since I have returned, it is a whole new world. Cannibal and Resto, Ai Fiori, The Nomad and The Nomad Bar, and the Breslin (to name just a few off the top of my head) are all within a 5-7 minute walk from my office.
And now, a new Danny Meyer’s pizza restaurant, Marta, has opened in the Martha Washington Hotel on 29th Street between Madison and Park.
(In the picture above, you can see a giant door-looking object. Do not be deceived. This is not a door. Do not tug on it while hapless diners stare at you in fear and curiosity from the inside. The entrance is all the way to the eastern side of the restaurant where you enter the hotel. This recommendation is from both personal tugging experience and from the insider-looking-out POV where many a frustrated diner-to-be tugged while we ate and looked on.)
Inside is a soaring space with two giant pizza ovens and a large marble bar. There are many tables around the room and the dining room feels big, but surprisingly never loud. I have now had two lunch meals here and both times I was surprised at how easy it was to have conversation with my fellow diners.
The bar for drinks (rather than pizza) is cheerful.
The tables are beautiful wood with a casual paper placemat and nice dishes. It gives the place a very laid back vibe but still polished. Perfect for a nicer pizza place.
The wine menu is quite extensive.
While Chef Nick Anderer certainly has a great pizza menu, there are also a number of other delicious sounding dishes on the menu, especially from the grill (which I did not yet try, but after seeing the lamb chops on a fellow diner’s table, I will need to go back soon!)
We started our first meal with the Radicchio salad, which came with treviso, quinoa, peaches, almonds, and ricotta salata. This was very, very tasty and I especially liked the peaches mixed in.
For the pizzas, we tried the (stunning) Fiori di Zucca (with mozzarella, zucchini flowers, and anchovies) and the Capricciosa (mozzarella, artichokes, prosciutto, olives, and egg).
The combination of the all the flavors on the Capricciosa won my heart (and tongue), as did the nicely crispy crust that had some sections that were perfectly charred.
The Fiori di Zucca was the stunner, however, and also very tasty. I felt a little like the anchovy flavor took away from the delicate flavor of the squash, so it wasn’t as great as the Capricciosa, but still very tasty.
And so pretty I made it my model for the moment and even added it as the main graphic on the NYCNomNom Facebook page.
On my second visit, I had to get the Capricciosa again and it was even better the second time around. Those charred, super crispy bits of crust really thrilled my palette.
And this time we also tried the Patate alla Carbonara, which was new to the menu since my first visit. This new gem came with potatoes, guanciale, black pepper, pecorino, and egg.
It was a tough call to decide which I liked more. I LOVED the potato on pizza. It’s such a great flavor. And the seasoning was perfect. Great depth of flavor and texture.
And this time we packed up half our pizza (and I shared with Mike later that night… lucky boy) and saved room for dessert.
We chose the Ice Cream Panino with salted chocolate biscotto, pistachios, and mascarpone gelato. This was like a bumped up ice cream cookie sandwich made with super gourmet ingredients. The salt and chocolate and ice cream and pistachio all came together beautifully for a great dessert. Great way to end the meal.
I really enjoyed Marta on both visits. The pizzas are very, very good and the space is a great place for a work lunch (and I’m sure breakfast and dinner as well). I still slightly prefer the truffle and egg pizza from Otto, which changed my truffle life, because the truffle is just so damn good, but the crust on these Marta pies win out a little bit (though the center was definitely a fork and knife only enterprise).
Very happy to have them in the neighborhood.
Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10