Company: Master Baker Tackles Pizza in Manhattan [CLOSED]

Pizza New York City

It probably wasn’t the best idea to bother with more pizza after hitting Pepe’s in New Haven, but good pizza is scarce in Los Angeles and Company owner Jim Lahey has such an impressive pedigree, so it was worth a shot. The Sullivan Street Bakery founder has earned a reputation as one of Manhattan’s preeminent bakers. I’ll always have good memories of his original SoHo bakery, which sold thin-crust pizza by the slice and produced one of my favorite pastries, a snail-shaped, nut-lined gem known as a lumaca. Now Lahey is producing springy pizza in Chelsea that is reminiscent of L.A.’s Pizzeria Mozza.

Early reports, and outgoing NY Times critic Frank Bruni’s one-star review, weren’t exactly inspiring. However, Bruni’s opinions have always been suspect, and Company had time to mature. Some ingredients burned in the 900-degree gas oven, but the crust was supple and springy. Lahey’s oven is also equipped to burn wood, but that feature is currently un-utilized. Given that, it was easy to imagine what might have been, but Company still delivered pizzas in Manhattan’s upper range.

Pizza Bianca ($4) was a simple but promising starter combining olive oil-brushed pizza dough lined with coarse sea salt and rosemary.

Company’s range isn’t completely limited to crust. Their Butter Lettuce ($7) salad incorporated tiny (too tiny) chunks of roasted butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, lemon and olive oil.

The highlight was clearly Company’s Special Pie ($18), topped with oven-browned veal meatballs, caramelized onions, pitted Kalamata olives, mozzarella and tangy tomato sauce. One issue that afflicted nearly every pie: blackened pockets of scorched dough.

Spicy Fennel and Sausage ($18) pizza combined crushed tomatoes, roasted fennel, sausage, red onions, chili, buffalo mozzarella and parmesan. This pizza was flavorful but unbalanced, featuring way too much undercooked fennel.

Margherita ($13) pizza was the simplest option, but didn’t host enough tomato, buffalo mozzarella or basil.

Boscaiola ($17) was thoroughly scorched to the point that the mushrooms were unappetizing. There was still plenty of flavor given the inclusion of buffalo mozzarella, pork sausage, onions and chilies, but this pie didn’t reach its full potential.

Company’s Popeye ($17) was a unique white pizza that turned out to be the least satisfying due to the drier-than-average crust and burnt spinach leaves. Too bad, since the combination of pecorino, gruyere, buffalo mozzarella, spinach, black pepper and garlic is good in theory.

If the pizzaiolo decides to pull their pizzas slightly earlier, Company could rank with the city’s very best. This is easily correctable, so there’s still plenty of hope for Lahey & Co.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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