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Wood-fired craft pizza at Fonzie’s pop-up

BY HANNAH REIMANN | Ed Cotton inherited Rossopomodoro’s wood-fired oven with his partners at Jack & Charlie’s No. 118 and has commenced a delicious weekly pizza offering at the same Greenwich Avenue address every Thursday from noon to 2 p.m.

There are only a few wood-fired ovens left in the area. Aficionados agree that the enhanced flavor of fresh ingredients and the crunch of the crust from the open fire make exceptional pizza.

Chef Cotton is a 1998 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He was formerly the chef at Sotto 13, at 140 W. 13th St., in 2014, where he also made pizzas in a wood-burning oven.

Ed Cotton crafts his family-recipe pizzas with an array of top-quality ingredients. (Photo by Hannah Reimann)

There are at least two varieties of pies per week at this pop-up, often including the mouth-watering Broken Meatball ($23), a red-sauce pie dotted with pieces of meatball (recipe of  his grandmother’s that he adapted), topped with Aleppo pepper in lieu of the traditional red chili flakes, then drizzled with a toasted pistachio-arugula pesto. This pizza, fresh out of the oven, was so good that my dining partner and I demolished the entire pie very quickly.

Cotton will always offer a classic Margherita pie ($21) with basil. We tried this one, too. The rich flavor of the sauce struck me right away. He uses two kinds of San Marzano tomatoes, pressed garlic clove, Frantoia Barbera olive oil and a touch of Calabrian dried oregano.

For now, it’s simple to acquire a pie or two — just walk in. The establishment does not take reservations or pre-orders and offers takeout only. The weekly pop-up will keep running until 1,000 pies are made and sold, which will probably last well into the winter, a friendly and welcome warm lunch for people living or working in the neighborhood.

The Fonzie’s Margherita will always be on the pop-up’s menu. (Fonzie’s Pizza)

Cotton named Fonzie’s after his grandmother, Alfonsina, and created a hybrid of New York-style and Neapolitan pizza that he calls “Metro-politan” — the crust is thin, crisp, chewy, never heavy.

“There is a Neopolitan approach to the style,” he explained, “combined with the word ‘metro,’ meaning ‘in the city.’ I use as many ingredients from the metropolitan area as I can, including local cheeses, various local toppings and good, old-fashioned New York City tap water.”

He aspires to expand on the legacy of cooking he inherited from his nonna, and adding wine into the mix, to open a full-fledged enoteca in the near future, and to call it Alfonsina in her honor.

The chef has been putting the wood-fired oven — installed by the place’s previous restaurant, Rossopomodoro — to good use to bake his pies. (Photo by Hannah Reimann)

“Pizza has always been a passion of mine ever since I was a kid,” he said. “I know it can be cliché for a chef to talk about his or her childhood as it relates to food, but pizza really was a huge part of my family growing up. My father was a chef at an Italian-American restaurant just outside of Boston. We made pizzas and calzones at home four times a week — I’d even sell them around my neighborhood going door to door.

“My grandmother, Alfonsina, had a big garden with vegetables and herbs that I’d bring home to add on to the pizzas. Her philosophy was to ‘cook from the hip’ — making do with what you have on hand, getting creative and having fun. The two of them really influenced my style of cooking today.”

Fonzie’s also offers some bottled cocktails ($14) to go, including a Negroni (classic or pineapple) or a Cuba Libre (rum and Coke). Beer, soda and water are also available.

Fonzie’s Pizza operates out of the Oyster Room at Jack & Charlie’s No. 118, at 118 Greenwich Ave., at W. 13th Street. Follow Fonzie’s Pizza on Instagram (@fonziesnyc) for updates and menu changes or call 212-680-4265 for more information.

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