Although it's been open five days, Keste pizza has received the full attention of the New York pizza world. And unlike most newly opened, hyped-up restaurants, the buzz is overwhelmingly positive; it even appears that they’ve passed the Neapolitan authenticity challenge posed by the serious local pie geeks. One might surmise that the odds are stacked in their favor given that they import the majority of their ingredients straight from Italy, hand out free aps to customers waiting in line (take that, John's), and are run by an owner with an obvious passion for pizza. But hey, that's good business. Here’s the full scoop, the good, the bad, and the rest.
The Good News: One Chowhounder sums Keste up nicely: “Excellent new spot on Bleecker Street near Cornelia. It's across the street from John's Pizza, but thousands of miles away in pizza terms. Supposedly authentic Neapolitan pizza, wood burning oven, pizzaiola from Italy. All i know is the dough reminded me of Da Michele in Naples (fairly soft with a nice little char), but the sauce at Keste was much tastier and the cheese was excellent..." [CH]
The Great News: One Yelper is blown away: “I have one word for the pizza: WOW!â€¨â€¨This is the best pizza I've ever had. It's thin crust pizza, but not the crispy style - it's perfectly doughy and chewy. It's almost indescribably fantastic. I usually don't love pizza crust and leave then crust ends when I eat pizza. I could eat just this crust all day long? I cannot wait to go back. I hope and expect to become a regular." [Yelp]
The Bad News: A bitter Menupager spills: “Mediocre Pizza; Poor Service. It may be authentic neapolitan pizza with imported ingredients but if you care about taste instead of getting a phd in pizza making, then you would be disappointed by the hype for Keste serves only mediocre pizza. Worse, while I never care about service, Keste's service is probably one of the worst around. They forgot about me during seating and service, failed to give me proper plate setting, and messed up the order of two tables around me.â€¨" [MP]
The OK News: The word on the Egullet forum: “At it's best this pizza could become light, pillowy and smoky, but we didn't quite get there tonight. At it's worst this could become wet and limp pizza, but we didn't quite get there either. Definitely good potential, we expect to go back after a few 1000 more pizzas get churned out.” [eG]
More Good News: A serious pizza eater from Slice says: “I've been a fan of Roberto's since he opened A Mano, and learned quickly that a lot of people don't 'get' what he's doing, just as there are people who don't 'get' the difference between authentic Chinese food and the stuff you find in the majority of Chinese restaurants. I really hope that New Yorkers will embrace the real Neopolitan pizzas at Keste, because they're fantastic! But this is NOT NYC pizza, as Adam says. This is the REAL. DEAL.” [Slice]
The 'It's Better Than Co.' News: Another report from a Slice reader: "Went to Kesté last night and had a very, very satisfying meal. The place was packed, but we were able to get a table for four after less than 30 minutes. It seemed like every Italian-speaking New Yorker was eating there. Anyway, after having gone to Co. twice, most recently on Saturday, I think I can say Kesté is far better—in terms of value, authenticity (though I realize that's not quite what Jim Lahey is after), and taste..." [Slice]
— Luciani Giangrandi