This is my mea culpa column. Regrets, Ive had a few, but almost none of them had anything to do with restaurant reviews. Until a few months ago, that is. Back in December, I wrote a piece proclaiming the virtues of New York-style pizzaand also proclaiming that in Utah, Nevoles and Tommy Angelos were the pick of the pies.
Little did I realize what sacred soil I was treading uponthough I should have. As New York pizza maven Dave Heiblim (more about him later) recently said to me, You cant even get two native New Yorkers to agree on the best pizza on a single block! Everyone has their own favorite.
That is so true. And what I was attempting to do in my New York pizza piece was to sketch out my favorite New York-style pizzerias and explain why. Well, lets just say I received an enthusiastic response from Utahs pizza lovers. Ive never gotten more feedback from a review than I did then. We may be in Utah, but you folks are as serious about your pies as any New Yorker Ive met. You sent me blistering e-mails singing the praises of Big Apple Pizzeria, Stoneground, Rusted Sun, Connies, Wasatch Pizza and The Pieeven Little Caesars. Hey, I like all of those. I even like Little Caesars. Its just that Nevoles and Tommy Angelos were my favorites.
By far the most pizza feedback I got was about Este New York Style Pizza. How, many readers wondered, could I write a column about New York style pizza and not include a place called Este New York Style Pizza? Many suspected a conspiracy. Some supposed mere stupidity. Neither is quite right (although the latter is closer). The truth is that at the time I wrote my New York pizza article, I was simply unaware of Este, which had opened a week or two before my piece published. Mea culpa.
Had I know about Este, it would have made the cut: Its now one of my three favorite New York-style pizza joints. I wont go into detail again here about what defines New York-style pizza. If you want to know, just grab a slice at Este New York Style Pizza. But dont wear your Red Sox hat.
Heiblim is a transplanted East Coast-er, and like many of this columns readers, hes serious about New York pizza. Unfortunately, hes also serious about the Yankees. For a Boston Red Sox fan like me, that would be reason enough to boycott Esteif the pizza there werent so damned good. So I have to play by Daves rules. Among them are Red Sox attire must be taken off in the restaurant out of respect. Along with Este pizza specials on the chalkboard is also the season tally of Red Sox vs. Yankees games so far this season: 3-3.
The two other rules of the house are: 1. No ranch sauce for dipping, and 2. No pineapple pizza. Actually, you can get pineapple on your pizza at Este, but it will cost you. Heiblim has a couple of made in Thailand cans of pineapple on display at the counter accompanied by the cost breakdown for putting pineapple on a pizza: Since its imported, the pineapple itself costs $49.99. But theres also a $99.99 corkage fee for opening the can and applying the pineapple to your pizza. Good stuff.
It goes without saying that Heiblim makes his own dough. In fact, you can buy pizza dough to take home at Este for a mere $1.50. The crust of an Este pizza is very thin, which is the way I like it. The sauces are all homemade, as are the scrumptious all-beef meatballs, and Heiblim uses as many organic ingredients at Este as possible. Theres even an honest-to-goodness vegan pizza, made with vegan cheese, that he says has become one of Estes most popular items.
Like the marinara sauce and the homemade meatballs at Este, the pizza sauce is a variation of one of his moms recipes. And its perfect. A slice of plain pizza at Este is a thin, crisp crust smeared with a light layer of nicely balanced tomato sauce (not too acidic, not too sweet), and topped with a judicious amount of mozzarella and Grande cheeses (not too much, not too little). The pies at Este are cheap: An 18-inch cheese pizza is priced at a mere $11.99. You can also get two slices and a drink for $4.
Este is a small place with only six tables, but its about to get bigger since patio dining is coming soon. Itll be a great spot to sip a cold Uinta beer and dive into a house specialty pie like the Italian Flag, which is made with pesto, white and red sauces to resemble the red, white and green Italian flag.
I wish I had more space to go into other outstanding Este offerings like its stromboli and calzones. According to Heiblim, a traditional stromboli is what most Utahns think is a calzone: pizza dough with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and the customers choice of three fillings, folded into a large crescent shape and baked until crisp on the outside. By contrast, a traditional calzone includes ricotta cheese and is made without any sauce. At Este, both are absolutely awesome, as are the baked garlic knotsa perfect starter made with real minced garlic and topped with olive oil and marinara sauce for dipping.
I used to think you had to go east for great traditional New York- style pizza. But you just have to go Este. ESTE NEW YORK STYLE PIZZA 2021 S. Windsor St. (840 E.) 485-3699 Open Monday-Saturday