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Don Antonio - New Neapolitan Pizzeria in Midtown

The strong-pedigreed Don Antonio by Starita just opened in Midtown West today. I walked by and took a quick peek inside. The interior looked very attractive and inviting. It's going to be very popular with the lunch crowd in the area. I'll probably go try it out sometime this week since it's not far from where I live.

Grubstreet has a good intro article about the restaurant and the HUGE pizza menu here (they also have the fried pizza, making them the 3rd pizzeria offering this item after Forcella and PizzArte): http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2012/02...

Serious Eats also has a cool slideshow: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

The pizzas are not cheap by any means, but I'm glad Midtown now has another Neapolitan pizzeria (from the masters of Neapolitan pizza, to boot), in addition to PizzArte.

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Don Antonio by Starita
309 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019

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  1. I went last night around 10:30 after getting out of a show. Excellent overall. We started with a montanarine and a fritattine. The montanarine was puffy with a hint of sweetness and topped with a dollop of sauce and a basil leaf. Very nice. The fritattine was also delicious, and tasted kind of like a fried spaghetti carbonara cake - no egg, but it had that creamy, cheesy, bacony thing going on. I had the pizza with pistachio pesto and sausage and loved it. It had tons of fresh mozzarella and the crust was nicely charred but still fluffy and soft. My husband had one of the fried pizzas with a ricotta and salami filled crust, topped with ham, mushrooms and mozzarella. I thought there was a bit too much going on on that pie, but he enjoyed it. I did like the taste and texture of the fried crust, but would go for a simpler combo next time.

    Service was a bit less than smooth, but it was the first night so I cut them some slack. Everyone was nice and they were trying. It's a nice space with a bar at the front and two levels of dining space behind. Maybe a bit too bright/harshly lit, but that can be adjusted. Antonio Starita was there and making the rounds to make sure everyone was happy with the food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cath

      Not sure if you've had the Montanara at Forcella or PizzArte before, it's basically a simple pizza margherita with a fried dough. The dough is first deep fried, then topped with tomato sauce, cheese, then baked. Don Antonio's version of the same is called the Montanara Starita. Maybe give that a try next time. The flavors should be simple and delicious, the puffy fried dough should be awesome. I said "should be", because I haven't actually tried the Don Antonio version yet.

      Also, thank you for your report. :)

    2. My husband and I went to Staritas in Naples just last month. the fried pizza was superb, not greasy at all,but crisp, slightly puffy with a perfect crunch,sauce and cheese ratio. if this approaches the perfection of the original, you will be very happy indeed

      1 Reply
      1. re: pammi

        Ah, I'm very excited to try Don Antonio. I'll definitely report back (with pictures!).

      2. Had lunch at Don Antonio, it was great!

        I love loved the Prosciutto and Arugula pizza. The crust was just incredible. It rivaled the puffiness of Forcella's Montanara, yet it was only baked. The fresh arugula lent the pizza a slight bitterness that helped to cut the richness and the prosciutto was excellent.

        Those who have been to Forcella know that their fried pizza is incredibly oily, which can be off-putting. I'm glad to report that Don Antonio's version (called Montanara Starita) is not oily at all. The golden crust had a wonderful outer crispness that was a pleasure to sink my teeth into. Interestingly, the interior wasn't too terribly puffy and dare I say it, it was less puffy than the Prosciutto and Arugula pizza (which was baked only). Very solid.

        The panna cotta was also very good. We decided to pass on the other options such as fried dough topped with nutella and tiramisu since we wanted to end the meal with something lighter.

        Service was efficient and there were no issues one week into opening. The restaurant had a healthy crowd size at lunch, about 75% full when we left at around 1pm.

        Photos of my meal: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheeryvi...

        Here's a mouthwatering Youtube video of the owners making a couple of their dishes including the montanara pizza: http://youtu.be/5TZhPuvrlgw

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        Don Antonio by Starita
        309 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019

        1. A friend and I went to Don Antonio last night. At a little after six, we snagged one of the last tables; within ten minutes of our arrival the place was as full as a tick in June. I had the montanara starita, naturally, because it has its own menu category and because I've never had such a thing before. My friend had the margherita with mushrooms, which was fine - just what you'd expect, and nothing more nor less. I didn't find the homemade mozzarella all that special, but the mushrooms had a good strong flavor.

          My montanara was like a giant zeppole topped with sauce and cheese. The crust is very nice, and as Cheeryvisage said, not greasy at all. Even though it's quite light, that crust is a pretty substantial piece of bread, and probably not something I'd eat all of again (although I'd happily split it and a salad on a future visit). And while I am very fond of smoked buffalo mozzerella, after a while its saltiness started to wear on me.

          Our server also forgot to put our order in (and don't lie about this, dude, when I can plainly see that people who arrived ten minutes after us are getting their pizza and we're not - just 'fess up and move on). So we also got a free nutella/fried dough dessert, which was very tasty if you eat, like, one piece. After that, it's just too much sweet & fry.

          I think the place will do a tremendous business - it's in a great location, and it certainly deserves to be popular. The atmosphere, though, is sort of horrible, in the way that Keste threatens to be without ever quite getting that bad. Crowded and loud, I can handle. But the tablet ordering system, the big tv screen showing the cooks at work, and the relentlessly effusive servers made the place feel like Disneyland. And while I realize that there may be many ladies who enjoy being flattered and flirted with by their servers, I'm not in that camp. I would love to hear more about the food. Please do tell me about the cooking methods, the provenance of the cheese, etc. But I am not interested in your opinion of my hair. That just makes me cringe.

          1. I took my family to Don Antonio for lunch today and we were pretty impressed. The pizza was great - my partner is picky about crust where I'm picky about cheese, and we were both more than satisfied.
            The apps were good too, which was a nice change from a lot of places where the pizza is the only decent thing.

            Love the cocktails, too!

            I could do without the TV screen showing the kitchen. I mean, it could be worse: it could be showing football! But considering how the kitchen is completely visible in the first place, the screen is a bit overkill.

            As far as the service went, I didn't have the same negative experience as some other reviewers here. I found them to be fast and friendly, but not overly so. This could have had to do with our being there with a small child though...

            Based solely on the pizza, this place still ranks below my favorite (Motorino), but I would definitely go back. They have more things that I would like to try.

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            Don Antonio by Starita
            309 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019

                  1. re: prima

                    Prima: I've not had the pizza at Don Antonio (it's been jammed when I've stopped by in the early evening and I'm guessing they get a huge pre-theatre crowd) but if you are interested in trying the montanara pizza at a place that does take reservations, I can recommend FORCELLA on the Bowery. It's an attractive space with friendly service and a good range of pizzas, both fried and traditional, plus some non-pizza offerings (which we did not try).

                    They also have a tiny outpost on Ludlow Street but I would doubt that that branch takes reservations.

                    http://forcellaeatery.com/

                    http://www.lamontanarapizza.com/

                    1. re: erica

                      Forcella is indeed great. It's hard to say which montanara I like better, Don Antonio's or Forcella's.

                      The third pizzeria that serves montanara in the city and takes reservations is PizzaArte, on 55th St between 5th and 6th Ave.

                      1. re: Cheeryvisage

                        We went To Don Antonio for an early dinner after the theater this afternoon, and there were lots of tables. Somehow I was thinking thin crust pizza: wrong. The usual :a bit thick and soggy in the middle. The toppings were fine. A lot of hype: I thought Don Antonio was nothing special. .

                        1. re: Karen K

                          Don Antonio is a Neapolitan pizzeria. Fluffy crust with a bit of a char and a slightly soggy center is exactly what Neapolitan pizza is. It's definitely not supposed to be thin crust pizza. Sorry you were disappointed. :(

                          1. re: Cheeryvisage

                            Hold it: Neapolitan-style is a thin crust. It definitely has a wet center, but it is by no means a deep dish pizza or anything like that. Pizze I had in Napoli and environs ranged from a crepe-like thickness with the consistency of excellent thin fresh-baked bread to a more crunchy thin bread with slightly more thickness, but definitely thinner than an average New York gas-fired pizza slice.

                            1. re: Pan

                              What was I thinking? I meant the cornicione part is supposed to be fluffy and thick.*sigh* I need to just go to bed. :D

                              @Karen: Are you saying the entire crust of your pizza was thick though? That's not like the pizzas I've had at Don Antonio before. I wonder if that one was off?

                              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                Perhaps describing it as "thick" is inaccurate. Better to say, not thin and crispy. I just don't like pizza with a soggy middle (and it's soggier still with any toppings on it).

                                1. re: Karen K

                                  Yeah, guess Neapolitan style pizza isn't for you. The style definitely has a soggy middle and is not supposed to be crispy.

                                  1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                    If you don't want soggy then order the Montenara pizza. It is fried, no fried taste however,and then baked with the ingredients. Not soggy! And delicious...

                                    1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                      I had the strangest pizza today. Glatt Kosher pizza in a dairy restaurant in Qns. Falafel pizza, it had falafel balls on top of the tomato sauce and mozzarella. How weird is that?

                                2. re: Pan

                                  Okay -- I'm going to try this place out. I lived in Naples for a month in 2006. My recollection of pizza is of puffy smaller pies with a charred crust and very fresh romas, buffalo cheese and basil smeared across the top. Slight taste of yeast in the crust, too.

                          2. re: erica

                            This is a late reply- thanks for your rec, erica! I had made a reservation for Forcella on a visit last year, but I had to cancel a couple hours before, when our group grew by 4 people and Forcella couldn't accommodate our larger group. I'm still hoping to try Forcella one of these days.

                    2. Went yesterday for a Montenara...wasnt sure if I was eating a pizza or a beignet...kept imagining that the crust would have been better with a little powdered sugar rather than the red sauce and sparse cheese which was barely melted. Pizza was not very hot, wine was average. Service friendly - but come on, guys, is this the best NYC has to offer?

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: Pan

                          See my post above. First they flatten the dough, fry it ( no fried taste) then put on the sauce, cheese and whatever, and then they bake it. this is exactly how they make it in Naples-a crisp, non soggy crust. Very tasty and very authentic..if its Naples style pizza you want.

                      1. Which pizzas at Don Antonio are your favourites, besides the Montanara? I'm a little overwhelmed by all the options on the menu.
                        Thanks for any suggestions.
                        http://donantoniopizza.com/menu/