Looks like Danny Meyer’s fast-casual pizzeria Martina won’t be the Shake Shack of pizzas, after all. Staring Monday, the East Village spinoff of Roman pizzeria Marta will be going full-service, with servers, bigger portions, and a new menu.
The Union Square Hospitality Group restaurant — helmed by Marta and Maialino chef Nick Anderer — opened in August 2017, and at the time, Anderer ambitiously wanted to bake as many as 90 pies an hour, a way to scale the thin-crust pizzas. The idea was to be a more casual and affordable version of Marta and “to give my pizza to more people,” Anderer said at the time. People had to order at a counter and picked up pies with a buzzer, similar to the ordering system at Shake Shack.
But just over a year later, and the concept of the restaurant is changing to be more formal. Martina, located at 198 East 11th St. near Third Avenue, closed over the last week to revamp and reopens tonight at 6 p.m. with table service. According to Instagram posts from Meyer and the restaurant, additions to the menu include more wine and a reuben with mortadella, artichoke slaw, and cheese.
Eater has reached out to the USHG team for more information on the swaps and for details on the updated menu.
Martina, though built with scalability, didn’t quite get glowing reviews as a fast-casual restaurant. In a non-starred review, Eater critic Ryan Sutton wrote that “in a city with too many great pies to count, this is an exceedingly average one.” The Times’ Pete Wells awarded it one star in a more positive review, though he did not find it fast.
And the fast-casual pizza market has been getting increasingly crowded. Besides the dizzying number of slice joints in NYC that let people grab pizza quickly, chains like D.C.-based &pizza and LeBron James-backed Blaze have enter the city’s dining scene. But Martina’s not the only one to decide it couldn’t crack it as a fast-casual pizza spot here. California chain Pieology closed its Williamsburg outpost within a year of opening.
Stay tuned for more.