My mother, a wise woman, believes that pizza and champagne are a perfect combination.
I can’t say I disagree.
It’s more than just the delightful sensation of breaking the rules by combining something highbrow with something lowbrow.
No, what we’re dealing with here is a complementary palette of flavors. Pizza is decidedly heavy–salty cheese, rich tomato sauce, meaty toppings, while champagne is light and effervescent. We normally pair pizza with red wine because the flavors are the same, but put together two opposites and you have something truly satisfying.
It’s molto magnifique.
Of course, there are a few rules when it comes to this pairing: the pizza must be thin crust, there’s no way around it. And the champagne has to be smooth (although this should go without saying).
And as it turns out, my mother and I are not alone in this belief. We’re joined by Chef Nick Anderer of Marta, an airy brick oven pizza restaurant located in the Redbury Hotel in NoMad.
Thin crust pizzas dominate the menu at Marta, and the bubbly list is extensive. Reservations need to be made in advance but at 5:15 on a recent Sunday we had the place largely to ourselves.
Here’s what we found:
The place. Bright thanks to huge windows, with marble countertops, gorgeous plates and modern decor in a huuuuuuuuge space. In New York, I’m always inordinately pleased not to be dining on top of the people at the table next to me. Maybe I’m jaded but I could not get over the size of this place. Located at the back in a place of honor are several massive, tiled pizza ovens. Just try to get a table by the windows.
The food. Pizza abounds, separated into two categories: rosse and bianchi. I don’t really waste time with white pizza; I think red sauce is what separates the meh from the wow in the pizza business. Out of several winning options and a special involving shaved smoked fish and ramps, we kept it classic with the Salsiccia, a rosse pizza with pork sausage and crimini mushrooms, sprinkled liberally with pecorino. It was fantastic: the crust was crackly thin and the mushrooms weren’t overpowering so it was just the right amount of hearty.
We also got the Marta Mista, an antipasti salad of sorts that was nothing to write home about except for the inclusion of some interesting pickled thing which I still can’t place. It looked like okra but had a bite.
Somehow, we had room for dessert. I regret nothing. On our waitress’s recommendation we got the apple caramel torta with fior di latte gelato. This is not what I think of when I see “torta”–it was practically bread pudding, so moist, so delicious, topped with sea salt. It’s inspired me to save room for dessert more often.
The drinks. Obviously, champs. We split a bottle of the Bérêche et fils and then I floated home on a sea of bubbles and buttery smoothness.