Dave Wilson and I set out about 7-8 hours earlier on a mini pizza quest, where we started at Di Fara Pizza and were now just leaving Roberta's -- both in Brooklyn, NY. You can read about these stops in Part I and Part II of this series. Links: Part I, Part II
As we staggered out of Roberta's for the second time that night, after running into the god of pizza fanatics - New York's own Scott Weiner -- we walked in silence. And we walked in the dark. But the area, which had at first seemed formidable and perhaps even dangerous, now seemed like a friendlier place -- a cool, artsy neighborhood. We both wore smiles, but our eyes must have been a bit more realistic, perhaps betraying our satisfaction as we began to really consider if we could continue on with this madness of a mini-quest that had become a big "P and Q" Pizza Quest.
We dropped down into the subway to head back to Manhattan.
I broke the silence. "Keste?" Were we going to make it in time? Dave struggled, but I knew his answer. His slight hesitation and doubt suddenly brought me back to life. I realized again what we had set out to do, what we must do, what we were going to do. Dave had never been to Keste. He knew what his answer was though he made a veiled attempt at pretending we could cut this quest short. Scott had reinforced us with his recommendations and stories of Roberto's pizzas at Keste. I had told Dave numerous times about his crust that was unparalleled.
"Keste!" Dave agreed. We didn't have to eat a lot. Right? Of course not. We were not hungry, we were on a mission.
Wherever we got off the subway we ended up having to walk quite a bit to get over to Bleecker Street where Keste sits. I think that probably saved us, or at least emptied our guts a wee bit. It was a beautiful night out in New York City and even though we had been eating epic pizza all day, we were headed to yet more epic pizza. What else were we to do, go sulk in our hotel rooms? I don't think so. The walk was good. It helped the mind, the eyes and, for sure, the stomach all get themselves back in line to finish this task, this journey.
It was pretty late by the time we got to Keste. To my surprise there were a few tables still available. We sat down and saw Roberto Coporuscio, who recognized me from visiting a few times before, as well as when I stopped by his new place, Don Antonio by Starita. We chatted a bit and I got back to telling Dave about Roberto's crust. I remember the first time I had it. I was staying at a hotel and brought back a couple of slices and when I walked in the room, I couldn't stop myself from opening the box of leftovers and pulling another slice to see if what I was remembering was true. It was. The crust is as good as, and probably better than any I've had. It's soft with a slight crispness and is almost as good an hour later, out of the box at room temperature.
Prosciutto and Arugula
This is always one of my favorite pizzas. The balance of a great prosciutto like this, with hints of salty soft ham-iness, along with the cool, peppery bright arugula is hard to beat. I've devoured this pie here before. Tonight we picked away. It was really good, but by this point we were tasting the pizza more than eating it! There was just no room in our pizza processing facilities left! It felt like we were committing a crime leaving so much pizza untouched, but this was for the cause and we were on a mission. The mission was slowly coming to an end and our bodies were waking us up to the reality of survival now!
Pizza Del Pappa
Oh, then the second pizza arrived. Scott Weiner had insisted we order the Pizza Del Papa. Another sip of a beer, and the show went on! Our eyes and mouths and slouching postures were all lining up now! The pizza was, of course, delicious and brought us back to life. The smoked buffalo mozzarella was a nice touch under the soft red and yellow peppers, zucchini, and it balanced well with the butternut squash cream! I love playing with the concept of sauces. Nothing beats tomato sauce, actually, but then again when something works it works.
We left more pizza on the plate than one would ever consider if they had come for dinner. Dave said it was as good, or better than Scott and I had described. It was well worth the journey, and we left satisfied, on many levels, because of the extra effort that elevated the whole night into mythic epicness!
On this mini-pizza quest I discovered that three small pizzerias in New York and Brooklyn could take me on a journey through time and space in a way I never thought possible. At Di Fara's it felt like everything was frozen in a time long gone by. The experience was like stepping back into the exact same space but in a different era, the sixties. At Roberta's time was affected, but in a different way. Roberta's was like stepping over into a time and space warp where we experienced being in Brooklyn, Portland and the TV show Portlandia all at the same time. At Keste there was a whole different experience. Keste is perhaps timeless. It is both old and new. You can taste history and the future at the same time.
Life is good when you can come up with a crazy plan for the day and just let go and let it happen. As our small "p" pizza quest came to an end, I realized what our big picture Pizza Quest was all about again. It's about the chase. It's about exploring and being open to finding what life will bring you, celebrating the passions of others and enjoying their gifts and sharing yours. It's about finding that ever elusive something called quality. Our search here on Pizza Quest for the perfect pizza is really just an excuse to discover something new about ourselves and our friends, but also about discovering all the possibilities that life has to offer.
Postscript: Keste translated means "This is it!" Well, this is surely it for this pizza quest journey...unless you want to know about how well I slept that night.
Like a baby with a pacifier!!!