Hubby and I had a date night the other night and were struggling with somewhere to go. We wanted something new but really didn’t want to go downtown either. Several of you guys asked if I had been to Diavola yet, and I hadn’t, so we decided to check it out. Diavola is the new Neapolitan style pizza place in the old Zest/Twist location on 54th Street. We didn’t know it going in, but the same man who owns Ambrosia Italian owns it. They have done a nice job with the interior—it’s nicer feeling than your average pizza joint and could stand up to it being a date night.
The pictures of the pizza online were certainly appealing, so we were looking forward to it. We started with the arugula salad ($9)(what you see in the picture is half-they split it in the kitchen for us). It was done well—nice crisp, fresh arugula with shaved Parmesan and some homemade croutons that had a nice herby flavor and a light vinaigrette. It was dressed appropriately and a nice thing to start with. I also liked that it wasn’t ridiculously huge, so you didn’t feel overwhelmed before you even got to the pizza.
Our server recommended if we split a pizza, that splitting a salad and appetizer was a good way to go and would be about the right amount of food. Based on her advice, we ordered the polpo appetizer ($13) next. This was the first clue for me about it being owned by Ambrosia. The set up was really similar to the octopus dish there. There were little cakes made of potato underneath, the charred roasted octopus on top, and there was a lemon vinaigrette throughout the dish. There was also a small pile of undressed arugula in the center of the plate topped with sliced olives. The olives were nice and salty and were a nice component in the dish. The potatoes were ok, a little bland maybe, but the biggest problem with the dish was the octopus itself. It was terribly chewy and overcooked. It looked pretty but it was borderline inedible. The vinaigrette was good as were the olives. That’s about all I can say positive about this dish.
We ordered a pizza ($14) and got a half and half combo—our server assured us we could do that. I chose the Contadina minus the roasted red peppers and hubby chose the Diavola. That meant that my side of the pizza would have artichokes, roasted mushrooms, basil, their homemade tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. Hubby’s would have the same sauce, basil, and cheese as well as spicy soppressata and extra virgin olive oil. Ok, my first gripe was that I had them hold the roasted red peppers because I feel like they dominate flavors too much, and in general, I don’t really love bell peppers. But for some reason, they added green bell peppers to my side, which I like even less, and which bummed me out. Other than that, the pizza was just ok. The middle of the crust was way too soggy and even the outside was a bit limp. Hubby was not finding a lot of the spicy soppressata on his side—he wished for more. I think part of the problem was that there was too much of other things on the pizza—from the toppings themselves to the cheese and sauce—it all didn’t help the crust any. The crust just couldn’t stand up to it. It’s possible that this place will perfect the pizza (I hope so) as it is open longer—I feel like it took both Pizzology and Napolese a bit of time to really perfect the pies, but I can’t say I would be rushing back to check. Based on this visit, I think there are many better options in town (mentioned above). Also, I have no idea if they even offer dessert because a check was plunked down before we were even asked. Maybe our server thought we had had enough, who knows.
1134 East 54th Street