May 6th, 2019 Update:
It was a rough start. Last time at Pistoia, we were greeted by the first Pistoia we met that didnt have a heavy Italian accent. No, its not like myself or Mrs Z have a Fish Called Wanda Syndrome (you need to remember the movie well to understand). Its just that over the past few years we got accustomed to a certain atmosphere at this ultra Tuscan. But rest assured, our waitress quickly explained and fixed the situation, switching to fluent Italian. And then we never saw her again, which we appreciated in a strange way. This is why…
One of the biggest differences between eating in NYC and Italy is the number of front of the house workers you see. For a typical mid-range establishment here you may witness a manager, a host or two, 4 servers, 2 busboys, and one or two bartenders. Its roughly more than double the amount of workers you find in a similar size place in Italy. Last time at Pistoia (original East Village location always. Since the last update, another West Village location added), we counted a total of four people handling a packed house, and a sidewalk. That hustle meant waiting 15 minutes more for my bill, but that also meant a lighter bill, and a different atmosphere. At Pasquale Jones last week, we saw twice as many employees and half the customers.
Its worth coming here for the creamy Zucchini flan alone, or for some of the silkiest, sweetest prosciutto you’ll find in the city. Not much changed in the all fresh pasta department. The square Maccheroni now features a fine and very Tuscan Cinghiale (wild boar) ragu. The Pappardelle with the beef ragu still rocks. And although the Picci lost some of its roundness, its the most peppery, creamiest Cacio e peppe out there. The biggest discovery this time was probably the splendid Chocolate Panna cotta, but you cant forget about the Tiramisu here. Upping Pistoia to three stars, as this is slowly becoming a family fave.
April 2nd, 2018 Update:
Turns out Pistoia handles family style like they do with their families in Tuscany. A feast for the ages for $55, house wine included. Highlights: The oh so silky prosciutto I cant get enough here. The tiny but potent Zucchini flan. One of the best simple Spaghetti with red sauce I’ve had in a while. Perfectly cut and cooked Pappardelle topped with hearty slow braised meat ragu. And delicate veal cutlets braised with Tuscan wine.
I rarely get this much satisfaction from a group. The big reason is the people running the place. You are not dealing with a corporation and an expensive super fixed menu. You are dealing with owner Emanuelle who will not nickle and dime you and will make sure everyone leaves satisfied. One of my favorite new Italian in NYC.
September 26th, 2017 post:
There’s Off the Beaten Path, and then there’s Avenue C. When I first heard of Fiaschetteria Pistoia about 6 months ago, I had to see it to believe it. You hear about places open in Alphabet City, but rarely so far east. Its a good news, bad news situation for residents and the many students who call East Village and Alphabet City their home. It’s great to see businesses open and thrive, but at the same time we may be looking at a rent squeeze. On the bright side, I’m now able to sit outside on Avenue C. Something I wasnt able to do not too long ago during the more violent days of the Alphabet (I’m using Marvel lingo here. As in “we need to defend our [Hell’s] kitchen)
You almost assume that any town just outside of Florence would be sleepy when compared to the tourist mecca nearby. But Pistoia, just west of Florence on the road to Lucca (another gem) is filled with culture and nightlife. And in the middle of that nightlife is Fiaschetteria La Pace, the big brother of Fiaschetteria Pistoia. Fiaschetteria, in the more traditional sense means a small wine bar, more associated with Florence. Back in the day, Tuscan wine was brought in from the vineyards in straw-bottomed bottles called Fiasche and sold in these tiny open wine bars, like street food. A dying breed just like the Lower East Side Jewish delis that once roamed around the area where Pistoia calls home
Pistoia is as far removed from Italian/American as a place can be in NYC. Much of the staff including the cooks, a family and friends affair, from you guessed it, Pistoia. A human pasta machine in full display busy making the Picci, a rarity in NYC because its slightly more labor intensive. Limited but adequate English throughout adds to the charm. Even the wine “menu” may seem strange to some. A basket with 8 house wines, dropped on a table or chair near you to explore and sniff.
There’s only one thing that sings Tuscany more than Picci. Pappa can you hear me?? Pappa al Pomodoro a rustic dish not so easily found in NYC. Mainly because tomato mush (“Pappa”) with stale saltless Tuscan bread doesn’t usually scream fine dining. But this is indeed a good one. Many may also bulk at the idea of Picci served Cacio e Pepe style. But in south Tuscany this kind of Roman influence is common, and Picci got a bit more of a bite. And yes, you even have a Cinghiale (wild boar) sighting here. Here it is served with Maccheroni, a pasta that is a little more generic than I’m usually led to believe. I was expecting tube shape, but got flat noodles that you can use to make little tacos with that meat
In Pistoia, Maccheroni Sull’Anatra (slowly cooked duck ragu) is usually served on an annual July festival. In Alphabet city I can get it any day now. This regular (I’m told) special became my favorite pasta here after three visits. On the last visit, I also enjoyed Crostone Fagiolino, another Pistoia specialty of bread topped with cooked prosciutto, chicken liver and Mushrooms. Eating this requires a little work, but it pays off overtime. Standards like Prosciutto and Tiramisu are top notch here. Tiramisu is so good in fact that I havent tried any other desserts here.
647 E 11th (Off C), East Village
Rating: 3 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Any of the Prosciuttos, Zucchini flan, Pappa al Pomodoro, Crostone Fagiolino, Spaghetti, Pappardelle, Maccheroni (any), Picci Cacio e peppe, Tiramisu, Panna Cotta