With less than traditional pies that don't bear the mark of old-school authenticity and excellence, Co. has nonetheless managed to insert itself boldly into New York's eternal pizza war. While they don't take reservations, the service is so exceptional to any visitor that it's always worth the wait next to the crowded hostess podium.
Just as one would expect, the centerpiece of each Co. pizza is the bread, kneaded deeply into Sullivan St. Bakery's history of artisan dough. While the edges are often uneven and can't be characterized as truly traditional, owner Jim Lahey seems to embrace that kind of rebellion, obsessed with the way his crust and its balance of burnt blisters and puffy centers can still taste perfect, despite their unevenness. Yet the one fault with Co. lies in the lack of attention given to the pizza's many toppings, which crave the same amount of devotion as the bread they rest upon.
The Popeye pizza with pecorino, gruyere, mozzarella, spinach, black pepper, and garlic, though, is still one of the best on the menu. The spinach here seems to actually have been given a little thought, and is texturally remarkable and still full of flavor without any bitterness. The Mushroom & Jalapeno pie with bechamel, pecorino, gruyere, garlic, dill, and 3 breeds of mushroom was also a winning combination, though some of the mushrooms cried out for a little more coaxing of earthy flavor.
Yet at the end of the day, the host who will thank you by name as you depart, along with the warm, wood decor and the long communal tables that frame this new, trendy "artisan" pie will satisfy every New Yorker's craving for good pizza in a full restaurant setting.