As a New York native, the Theater District scares me. Flashing signs for both Broadway Shows and dreadful restaurants (yes, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, I’m looking at you) line the 40s between 7th and 8th Avenue.
When you finish work at 6pm in Midtown and have 8pm theater tickets (Book of Mormon!!), you have very little choice then to suck it up and eat near the theater. Thankfully, Hell’s Kitchen has begun to become a culinary refuge for us local theater go-ers. While Danji, Totto Ramen, and Ippudo all serve as fabulous options for a pre-show meal, I wanted to try something different.
I tend to stray away from cheap street Pizza, which is hard to admit as a New Yorker, but gourmet, wood oven pies hold a special place in my heart. In Midtown, many rant and rave about Don Antonio’s, the antithesis to everything dreadful about the area.
With a strict no-reservations, everyone must be present policy, the narrow restaurant gets crowded and loud by 6pm. I found my parents sitting at the bar, chatting it up with the couple from Brooklyn next to us, seeing the same show. My Dad then handed me some kind of crazy, blue, slushie-cocktail as we were finally lead to our our table in the back.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out what this was called or what was even in it. I believe my Dad said Tequila, but then again, I really can’t be sure. So I apologize for my lack of knowledge. All I can say is that this drink is phenomenal. Refreshing, light and on the first nice night in months, I finally accepted the fact that summer is right around the corner. It’s not very sweet, mellowed out by what seems like a coconut flavoring. Point is, ask the waiter for a blue drink and you will be extremely satisfied.
Of course, we knew pizza was a must order, but we needed to start with a fresh green. Since we were ordering the beautiful ball of Burrata (paired with my beloved, and my Dad’s hated prosciutto), I selected Pontina Insalate, with house made mozzarella, cherry tomatoes over a spring mix, tossed in an aged balsamic.
Forget the greens and go straight for the mozzarella. Made in house, it’s sweet and salty, and slightly creamy, everything you would expect from one that was recently prepared. The sweet cherry tomatoes, slightly bitter greens and balsamic pair beautifully with the cheese. There’s a reason this classic combination is a fan favorite.
There are three distinct types of pizza preparations at Don Antiono’s; Traditional Wood Oven Pies, Calzones and Fried Pizza, their specialty. Oh and that’s not including the gluten free pies offered (so LA).
We decided to skip the fried pizza despite the hype, opting for a calzone and one of the traditional pies, which is topped with far from traditional items.
Pistachio. Pesto. A recreation of this incredible spread already made my “recipes” folder on gmail. The crust wilts a little bit from the heaviness of the ingredients, lacking the serious crunch I look for. But then again, this isn’t a thin crust pizza, it’s more chewy dough, but not necessarily in a bad way. It’s just not that typical New York slice. The toppings are all made in house, with the insanely good pistachio pesto and homemade mozzarella binding the sausage to the crust. Great option for a something different type of pie.
The calzone defy any preconceived nothing of the stuffed Italian staple. It’s crunchy, wider filled with multiple types of cheese and veggies.
My favorite dish of the night. Crispy crust filled with creamy ricotta and Rapini, essentially another version of broccoli rabe, giving that tart crunch. The cheese oozes, with the three different types bringing a tangy sweetness. It’s a a little messy to eat, causing me to pull a serious De Blasio. You can’t really blame a girl for not wanting all of the cheesy goodness to end up in my lap.
Don Antonio’s offers another serious option for pre-Theater dining. Is it the best pizza in New York City, no. But is it the best pizza in the area, you better believe it. All of the pies deviate from the norm, using extremely fresh and innovative ingredients. If I learned anything from this meal is my new found love for pistachio pesto. So, thank you Don Antonio’s, for helping to lessen my Theater District hatred.
Don Antonio’s – 309 West 50th Street – New York, NY
Location: Midtown West, NY
Perfect For: Casual Meal, Big Groups
Open: Monday- Saturday
Reservations: Not Available
Favorite Dishes: Pistachio Pesto Pizza, Porta a Porta