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Mar 25, 2009 08:03 AM

Tonda Report?

Anyone have a Tonda report from last night?

Yelp is on the case and is not too enthusiastic:

Unless things improve it seems as though alphabet city residents may need to walk South to San Marzano, Southwest to L'asso, West to Co or Pizza Mezzaluna or Otto (remember Otto?), or North to Una Pizza to get a Neapolitan pizza fix. The horror!

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  1. Youch, I live down the street and had really hoped for better. I'll give them a few more weeks and see if they fix their pie problems. I had had the same hopes for EU and it just never really did it for me.

    San Marzano was really not all that -- I might be back but only for a slice and only because its nearby. Company was great though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: _emilie_

      Agreed on San Marzano. I found my pizza (only been once) to be too heavily cheesed and sauced -- crust didn't stand a chance after only a few minutes.

      Also agreed on EU -- loved the space, wanted to love the restaurant, but I found its only consistency to be that it would consistently disappoint.

      Here's to hoping that Keste lives up to the hype.

    2. I went tonight and found the pizzas fine but the crust was lacking in structure. It didn't hold up to the toppings put on, especially if there was tomato sauce. I was looking for nice, big airy holes, more in like with UPN or Company. Decent enough char. The margherita pie was very wet. Droopy from the crust ring down, and hard to eat, due to how weak the crust was.

      Pies were served whole but the knives provided were not really good at cutting through. We shared 3 pies and wanted to split them up and there was a fair amount of sawing going on. Nice tasting crust, though, and I also liked the tomato sauce. (I'm not a fan of a superacidic sauce). We didn't opt for the bufala mozzarella upsell ($5).

      The sauceless pies were better, but they really need to cut up their toppings into manageable pieces. A 2" long spear of sausage is really hard to eat on a pizza, as is an entire broccoli rabe spear. Ditto for the egg pie -- asparagus chunks falling off, cherry tomato halves plopping onto the table, sigh.

      Nice atmosphere, though, and some nice big tables designs for large parties, and a nice looking bar. However, the menus are difficult to read (frosted plastic panes with typewriter-esque black type on brown paper underneath) although our server said they would be changing them soon. Also, I found the bathrooms are confusing. There are three doors covered by curtains, but only two are bathrooms, and one slides open, while the other swings out. And there is a step down immediately when you walk through the door, so be careful! I tripped.

      Pretty room, though, and it's neat to have a view of the oven, and the pies come out FAST. We had 3 pies, 2 beers, and paid about $70 including tax and tip.

      5 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        I agree with everything you said, kathryn. I only had the margherita pizza, and it was soggy. The crust had a nice char but the dough itself didn't have enough flavor. With NO toppings to speak of, there's no excuse for soggy pie. I don't like the pretense of not cutting the pie in the kitchen. And I also don't like having to ask for a knife to cut my own pizza.

        We had the arugula salad, which was pleasant enough. But it was just a salad. The other disappointment of the evening was the fried artichoke thing we got. I don't know where they hid the artichoke, but it was definitely not inside the fried batter that arrived at our table.

        In the very dark room, I found it impossible to read the menu. Even with a candle, I could barely read it. C'mon! I'm not that old!!

        Verdict: I have no need to go back there unless I hear things have improved. I wasn't offended by the place. But I'm also not going to rush back or recommend to others, at this point.

        I also agree on San Marzano. I went there a few weeks ago and was underwhelmed. Of the two, I like SM better. But not by a wide margin.

        1. re: egit

          Hi Egit. Are you and Kathyn referring to Keste? Sorry, it's unclear to me from the string... I haven't tried it yet, but will this week. I hear some mixed reviews about it. But of course, I'll have to try it anyway as it's in competition with my other top pizza places.
          I was actually at Lucali's last night - my favorite...still thinking about what a great pie I had with the delicious artichokes...
          I'll have to see how Keste compares to Co, Lucali's and Franny's.
          I know it will be different, but I'm wondering if it is just as great.
          Not really a fan of UPN -- Anthony's pies are too inconsistent and generally, not always excellent, especially compared to the the pizzas that Jim, Mark and the folks at Franny's slide out of their ovens.

          1. re: wileen

            No, we're talking about Tonda, which is where EU used to be on East 4th (and Ave B). I totally agree about Lucali... only been there once but I think I Saw God when I ate their pizza. :-) Tonda didn't measure up.

            Keste, who knows. Hopefully you'll report for us.

            1. re: egit

              Thanks for the reply...I didn't know about Tonda.
              haha--that's a perfect way to descibe the experience at Lucali's.
              I try to make the trip to BK at least twice a month just for Mark's pizza. aside from being busy, it's hard to make it because I have to get there early to get a table. But it's all worth it.
              ...Of course, there is good enough pizza in the City.
              I tried to go to Keste last week, but we had too big of a party and some people didn't want to wait.
              I plan to go during the week instead.
              I will report if I make it this week.

        2. that's so sad to hear Tonda is not that good. I have yet to go. BUT someone mentioned Keste' and i can assure you it is VERY GOOD! I am the hardest to please when it comes to anything truly Italian. if you don't believe me check out
          When I close my eyes at Keste' I taste all my memories in Campania.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Gianluca

            I checked out your website and agree with your comments about the types of pizza...I love how you descibe Chicago's pathetic that they call that "pizza"..

            I'm very anxious to try Keste now.

            Thanks for sharing your website.
            I still have to go through the coffee side. I looove pizza and coffee too.

          2. Ok, finally got around to going, and it wasn't half as bad as I was afraid it would be. We tried two pies -- the spicy sausage, mozzarella, tomato and the speck, gorgonzola, mozzarella and tomato. Overall, I really enjoyed the flavors of the ingredients and the combinations we had worked well. I particularly liked that they used a nice thin cut speck and not speck cut into little cubes like you often see. When it's thin you really taste what what it's all about -- DEliciousness! I also liked the overall ratio of mozzarella to tomato sauce, and enjoyed the flavors of their sauce (the sausage pie had an interesting fishy note about it, maybe there are anchovies in there? I'm all for it.). To address some of the complaints I have heard:

            mushy crust?
            Depends. One of our pies stood up pretty well (the sausage), and one did get totally mush at the center (the gorgonzola). Guilty!

            uncut pie?
            Yes, this was totally annoying. They need to just cut the damn pies already. Too hard to share two pies between two people, let alone more pies between more people. Very very guilty!

            crappy crust?
            Ok, this was not the best crust that I have ever had, but it was definitely passable. The crust at Co. is obviously better. Tonda's lacked the big airy bubbles and enduring crispy, chewy bread bliss. BUT, I have also had much, much worse. Not very guilty, just a little.

            service with attitude?
            Not at all, they were totally nice. Food arrived promptly, as did wine, water, whatever we wanted. Not guilty.

            The pies are also much larger than Co. so one per person is totally adequate with no additional sides/apps. Overall, I enjoyed my pizza, but I'm not sure I'll be running back tomorrow -- there are just too many pizzas out there I like. If a friend wanted to go, I would totally go. My Sangiovese didn't really taste like a Sangiovese, but then again I didn't see the bottle and have no idea what they are pouring. We didn't have any starters so can't speak to those.

            I haven't tried Keste yet, so I can't compare there, but I liked it probably as well as L'asso, MUCH better than San Marzano, not as well as Co., and I haven't been to Otto in so long that I can't really judge.

            Should you go? Yes, go try it. It won't blow you away, but it was a pleasant $45 meal for two with drinks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: _emilie_

              I liked La Tonda. The spicy sausage and marghareta were quite good. In the same ballpark as Keste , Mezzaluna, L'Asso, Posto, Co., Giorgione, Fresca, UPN, Naples 45. If you want to try something different and much better than the rest of the "new" Neopolitan contenders, I'd recommend Veloce.