Sunday, October 18, 2009

Co. (Company)

Things haven’t been so good over at The Good Life this past week. Thankfully, I’ve got the best friends and family in the world, fall foliage that is begging to be photographed, mad poker skillz, drumming precision at Rock Band, and Top Chef to keep me warm Wednesday nights (Restaurant Wars this week, people!). In short, I’ve got a lot going on, so it’s best to keep the writing positive. Take now, for instance: as I type, I am enjoying a Boylan’s Black Cherry soda. It’s terrific! Oh, and also, there’s my college buddy Eileen, who will be turning 30 next month.

Because Eileen is my biggest foodie friend, it’s almost impossible for us to meet up in Manhattan without blowing a small fortune. We both adore the New York restaurant scene and view our get-togethers as precious opportunities to try hip, delicious places. In the past year alone we’ve conquered: Artisanal, Perilla, Anthos, Pearl Oyster Bar, and Corton.

For the past three months, I’ve been waiting to phone Eleven Madison Park in the hopes of scoring a table for Eileen’s big day. To make it until the end of November however, a quick fix was needed. The challenge was for Eileen and me to meet up before EMP, keep our bill under $75, and still make the destination fabulous.

Enter Co. (Company): Jim Lahey’s much-anticipated “gourmet” pizzeria in Chelsea, buzz factor made stronger by all that mouth-watering bread he’s been serving at Sullivan Street Bakery.

Co. is soooo the happening scene right now. It’s got a minimalist décor—long tables, warm wood, and sleek mirrors. It’s actually reminiscent of a sushi bar, yet the ambience is so full of life and energy and hipsters, I don’t think it’ll never be mistaken for anything other than a pizza joint.

When Eileen and I walked in Thursday night, the place was packed. I squeezed past models, college students, and a professor-looking fellow sporting a beret, to ask about the wait. Despite the crowds, the hostess was able to fit us in almost immediately, probably because we were the only party of two waiting (that or my blog is becoming stronger and more powerful than I could ever imagine).

To start, we ordered two salads.

Escarole ($7):
Bread crumbs, capers, anchovies, lemon and olive oil
Radicchio ($7):
Shiitake, taleggio cheese, balsamic and olive oil
Both salads were extremely fresh, a recurring theme for the night. My escarole had such a light, citrusy flavor, not at all weighed down by the anchovies or bread crumbs. Eileen’s radicchio had a snap, the shiitake mushrooms were firm and earthy—my only complaint was that they were a little stingy with the taleggio. I think there were only four cubes.

But who comes to Co. for salads? Let’s talk pizza.

Here is the Popeye ($17):
Pecorino, Gruyere and Buffalo Mozzarrella, spinach, black pepper, and garlic.
And the Stracciatella ($17):
Crushed tomato, black pepper, stracciatella cheese, and arugala.
Our server talked us into the Straciatella, saying it was Co.’s signature pizza—sort of like their version of the Margherita (although they’ve got a Margherita on the menu, too). I was most impressed by how fresh everything was. The arugala tasted as if it had just been picked—peppery and remarkably light, the straciatella (a mixture of mozzarella and cream) created complexity and decadence without weighing the pizza down, and the tomatoes were plump and flavorful. The crust was thicker than I expected—it almost reminded me of a Sicilian—yet it’s way more airy and chewy. My only complaint was that the edges were burnt (charred) in some places. This didn’t seem right for a $17 individual pie.

The Popeye was a great companion. While the Straciatella was light and fresh, the Popeye tasted heavier and more complex. Same crust-action going on (including more burnt edges—c’mon guys), and the combination of cheeses gave a pleasant saltiness. The spinach was masterfully cooked: you could taste the olive oil and garlic, but there was still a crunch and freshness to it. One pie wasn’t better than the other; they were just very different, in all the right ways.

Dessert was pretty lame. Eileen got the Chocolate Breadcrumb Torte ($6):
It could’ve been denser. It actually tasted a little stale.

And I got a small cup of praline gelato ($3):
Meh. It was fine. I put it in my coffee.

Our total for the night was $69.68 (Cokes, coffees, salads and dessert add up). With tip, we blew our $75 goal. But we didn’t really mind. We hung out until almost 10 p.m., had some really great pie (next time, I’d skip the salad and the dessert and get three pies), and soaked up the atmosphere.

A word about the service: incredibly friendly, and once you’re in, you’re in. You won’t be rushed. However, visits to our table were sporadic. Eileen didn’t receive a separate glass for her Coke, and we waited quite a bit for our server to take our dessert orders. If we were in a rush, this could’ve been really annoying, yet that night, I found it refreshing to just sit back and linger.

Co. (Company)
230 9th Ave (at 24th St)
New York, NY 10001
(212) 243-1105


  1. Thank you Sharon for that wonderful pre-birthday shout out! And yes everyone, I am turning the BIG 3-0! And yes, Co. was awesome! I whole heartedly agree with all of Sharon's comments, especially the - skip the salads and dessert and go for extra pizzas. I will say though in hindsight I think we should have ordered 'toast' (aka crostini) but it was a great vibe, great pizza and as always great company.

  2. I've been wondering about this place! Was the arugula actually baked with the pizza? It almost looks like it was added on afterwards - I would expect arugula to be more wilted if it was exposed to the sort of heat these pizzas go through.

    Oh, and happy birthday Eileen! =)

  3. The arugala had to have been added post-baking. Best arugala ever. As fresh as a petunia.

  4. Thanks Youngchae! I hope we can get together and as Sharon says "stuff ourselves silly with delicious food"