Luzzo's & Da Mikele
On my birthday weekend, Alex and I were going to have a quiet, peaceful dinner at Luzzo's, a brick oven pizza place near Alphabet City. The place was small and people waiting for tables were squashed all around the entrance. The hostess said we could sit downstairs, so we headed down a rickety staircase but when we entered the dining area in the basement, a bunch of people sitting at a long table shouted "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" and hoisted gifts and iPhones in the air. I gasped, froze for a few moments, and then turned around and started sobbing, happy tears of course. There are videos of this on people's iPhones apparently...how embarrassing!
I was a little bit too aflutter to really remember what we ate, but between our group of 8 people, we split 4 pizzas. Thinking back on it now, I literally don't remember what we ate, but I do remember it was good. The pizza was a bit soggy after a while because we all started swapping slices/fourths of pie. Good deal.
Alex tells me that Luzzo's has a "sister restaurant" (I have no idea these things exist) downtown called Da Mikele and we finally visited it recently. Because I was in less of a state of shock and giddiness at Da Mikele, I think I can better recall our dining experience.
The interior of Da Mikele, like Luzzo's, is very rustic. They have old bicycle wheels hanging on the walls and the overhead lights are encased in birdcage-like frames. A well-stocked bar lines one wall. The whole place is pretty conducive to lovely romantic meals.
The bread for the table came in a funny presentation: a canvas bag, not unlike what you'd see people hop around in during potato sack races. Just, smaller. They provided us with a shallow dish with one clove of garlic and a bottle on the table (that looked like a canister of lighter fluid) of olive oil. We smartly mushed up the garlic and bathed it in olive oil for a deliciously simple and addictive appetizer. I really loved the bright flavor of olive oil on the bread, with just a hint of garlic.
We ordered a real appetizer of bruschetta with mozzarella and slices of spicy salami. The bruschetta were delicious and crispy, though bordering on the hurt-your-gums-when-you-bite-into-it. For the main course, we split the Capricciosa pizza, a rectangular pizza that was served on a peal topped with artichoke hearts, ham, olives, mozzarella, and mushrooms (only on my half, of course). Unlike the pizza at Luzzo's, the Da Mikele pizza crust maintained a really good, chewy firmness without getting soggy, even as our dinner dragged a little long due to good company and good conversation. The toppings, Alex reckoned, weren't very fresh: we noticed that the mozzarella cheese didn't do the characteristic streeeeeeeetch when we pulled away a slice, but overall the taste was good.
Finally, as a companion to dinner, we shared a drink called Basilistic, something like muddled basil in some fruit juice. It wasn't fantastic: I couldn't really taste the fruit juice or basil and it was kind of unremarkable, but I did eye something else on the drinks menu that had raspberry chambord...next time!!
Overall, I really liked dinner at Da Mikele's and I hope to return soon.