Pizza becomes fine dining fare at Danny Meyer and Nick Anderer's new Flatiron establishment.
It's no surprise that Marta is a success. With one of the most reputable teams in town behind it, success was almost built into the concept of the large, bustling space. What is a surprise, however, is that New Yorkers, so fussy about their pizza, are still clamoring for a pie that doesn't try to be the "best in New York." How lucky we are to live in a city with so many phenomenal pies that people don't care if it isn't the best they've ever had? Marta is almost a philosophical statement about the strength of this fully developed concept, and as such, it delivers truly excellent Roman-style pizzas with cracker-thin crusts that retain the crispy bites of the charcoal embers over which they were cooked.
I think I may also be one of the few guests to disagree with the consensus that the space feels too much like a hotel lobby and not enough like a restaurant. While the front of house seems to linger near the entrance to the hotel, Marta is otherwise blessed with soaring ceilings that allow for a show-stopping, art piece of a chandelier with huge light bulbs attached to long wood sticks like a mobile frozen in air, as well as two towering wood-burning pizza ovens that anchor the open kitchen. On a busy weekday evening around 9 PM, the room was buzzing, filled with all the pleasant sounds of a new restaurant, not a quietly austere hotel lobby.
However, service has not quite hit the highest Union Square Hospitality standard yet and can verge on occasionally indifferent, but nonetheless should still receive high marks. For what amounts to be a high-end pizzeria, where efficiency is key, I was still impressed by having a lovely and comfortable table in the center of the dining room ready for my reservation so immediately.
Some classics have already begun to emerge from a menu divided between red pizza and white pizza, and for a first visit, sharing is highly recommended. The Patate Alla Carbonara, the pizza version of everyone's favorite rich and creamy pasta, comes with soft squares of potato, bits of egg, and plenty of guanciale, pecorino, and black pepper. This is what you get when an Italian chef takes on pizza. The Salsiccia with pork sausage, cremini mushrooms, and pecorino is beautifully cooked, with the spicy flavors of the sausage balanced perfectly next to the mushrooms. While it may seem too simple, the Margherita with mozzarella and basil also truly holds its own as a staple of the menu. And because it is a Danny Meyer restaurant, the lovely and generally affordable list of prosecco and champagne.should not be avoided. It may ultimately be the best "pizza and bubbly" meal you've ever had after all.