Article from: The New York Times
By NICK FOX
Published: October 12, 2010
The brick oven bulges through a wall, a hot obstruction on the way to the restroom. Shuffling pies takes an acrobat. The peel seems half as long as the restaurant, about as wide.
But this new sliver of a place, not far from branches of Totonno’s and Nick’s, and the original Patsy’s, may be the Upper East Side’s best pizza spot.
The Neapolitan pies ($11 to $16) are tender, crisp and flavorful — both when the crust outshines the topping, as with the Margherita, and when extras like tiny chiodini mushrooms and speck steal the show. San Matteo also does its neighbors one better with panuozzi ($12 to $16). Imported from Salerno, like the restaurant’s three partners, a panuozzo is dough, baked quickly, sliced open, stuffed with porchetta, mortadella and other cured meats, enhanced with buffalo mozzarella, marinated eggplant or roasted peppers, then toasted again. It does for hot sandwiches what pulled noodles do for pasta, seasoning them with a sense of immediacy.
The pizzaiolo, Giuseppe Paciullo, worked the ovens at Zero Otto Nove in the Bronx. His cousin, Fabio Casella, who plates antipasti at the narrow counter, was at Mike’s Deli on Arthur Avenue, where he found some fine sources for salumi like wild boar soppressata. (An abundant platter of meats is $14.)
The oven is an eye-catcher, but so is the Slurpee-ish machine in front, whipping up the perfect end to your meal, caffè crema. That’s milk, cream, sugar and espresso — coffee soft-serve from the Roman gods.
1739 Second Avenue (90th Street), (212) 426-6943.