Nick Anderer, the chef at Danny Meyer’s just-launched, feverishly anticipated pizza spot, Martina, is committed to bucking the trend for weird, baroque and altogether mutant pies.
“I never claimed or will claim that I’m going to reinvent the wheel with pizza — pardon the pun,” he says. “I just fell in love with a certain style in Rome when I was a student there — a simple, thin-crust style. All I’m trying to claim is an honest representation of Roman thin-crust pizza.”
The city’s crowded pizza scene suffers from enough overthinking as is. Powder-fine doppio zero flour is the trendy dough ingredient. Pizza is griddled, not oven-baked, at Mario Batali’s Otto. You’ll find maple syrup and Canadian bacon on Paulie Gee’s “Monte Cristo,” and Detroit-inspired square pies at Emily.
Martina, an East 29th Street satellite of Meyer and Anderer’s sit-down restaurant Marta, slashes through the confusion like a rolling cutter.
Inside a bright storefront space with clean lines, customers place orders at a counter, then receive buzzers that purr when the food is ready.
Nothing could be simpler, but any new place from Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group — even budget-friendly Martina, where 10-inch pizzas are just $7 to $12 — is micro-scrutinized for deeper meaning: Could this be the start of a new Meyer empire?
“I’m not talking to anybody about leases for a second [location],” Anderer says in response to persistent online rumors that Martina will soon spread around the world like an olive-oil slick.
The chef’s only interest is the East Village, where he has lived since 1998. “My plan right now is to concentrate on this neighborhood,” he says. “I picked this spot deliberately. My first apartment after college was a few blocks from here.”
Anderer says his thinking centered mostly on speeding up Marta’s fine-dining pizza process. “I thought, ‘It would be awesome to figure out a way to get this pizza out to more people,’” he says.
Martina’s irregularly shaped roundish pies are a tad smaller than Marta’s — 120 grams of dough versus 170 grams — but the “dough recipe is exactly the same,” Anderer says, combining “workhorse” high-protein bread flour with whole-wheat flour.
He shuns fussy twists in favor of classic approaches. “For example, the fior di zucca is not my recipe,” he says. “It’s something they make in a million pizzerias in Rome.”