Stepping into Ribalta pizzeria is like being in a pizza atelier, where master pizzaiolo Massimiliano Crocetti (hailing from Florence, Italy) and his crew of white-smocked chefs bustle around three fiery pizza ovens in a modern workroom designed by Studio Costa, the firm responsible for Eataly. A bright, tonal backdrop is only enhanced by fun touches like a bar made out of wooden pizza peels.
The restaurant’s vibrant and crisp design translates directly to its pizza preparations. Ultra-fresh ingredients yield clear and distinct flavors up and down the menu. Although the pizzas are the obvious go-to here, Ribalta also serves excellent antipasti and insalate. Try the finocchietta salad with mixed greens, fresh fennel, Pantelleria capers, black olives, orange slices, and orange vinaigrette. Of course, Ribalta’s twenty-plus varieties of pizza are its true stock-in-trade.
While the more traditional Classica and Napoletana preparations are worth their weight in Ribalta’s specialty pizza flour—a collaboration with premiere Italian dough-maker 5 Stagioni—the real star here is the twice-baked pizza en pala. Meant to be shared, these creations have thick crusts with a crunchy exterior and pillowy inside. Of the pizza en pala pies, most notable is the ciliegino pizza, which marries cherry tomatoes, basil, and bufala mozzarella.
And with Ribalta’s plans to host New York’s branch of the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, an international pizza school with 31 locations throughout Italy, we can only hope they’ll be willing to share a workshop secret or two with more new and delicious pies. 48 E. 12th St., 212-777-7781