Pizza’s automatically better for you if it comes with a side of beachy vibes, right?
It certainly feels that way at Pizza Beach, the new Upper East Side pizza joint from brothers Tom and Anthony Martignetti, who also own nearby The East Pole and Soho’s Brinkley’s.
But the real healthy factor goes beyond sunny seaside artwork and surfboards on the walls. The menu is filled with inventive pies piled with fresh, local veggies—think butternut squash, beets, and kale—and options like gluten-free crust.
It’s the vision of Joe Capozzi, who is also the chef at The East Pole. He was formerly the chef de cuisine at veggie-mecca Fat Radish and cooked for a few summers at Montauk hotspot Ruschmeyer’s, where he fell in love with the surf-town feel.
“We liked the whole feeling of the beach lifestyle, and we love pizza, so…you know,” he says, laughing.
Soon, he’ll even start getting deliveries from Amagansett’s Amber Waves Farm, a CSA and farm stand fave of Montauk residents (so the veggies will truly have been grown in seaside soil).
On the menu, you’ll find creative, veggie-forward pies like Roasted Beets & Goat Cheese ($19), Mushroom & Stracciattella with leeks ($21), and Butternut Squash & Kale ($19). Plus, meatier picks like Lamb Merguez & Oaxaca Cheese ($20), made with grass-fed lamb and shishitos, and, of course, classic options like a Margherita ($15).
The Butternut Squash & Kale was incredibly delicious, with heaping servings of both veggies, and the kale perfectly crisped from the wood-fired oven. The tasty Thai Coconut Curry & Rock Shrimp ($19) with ginger and fresh cilantro was a close second.
The big, healthy bonus here is that every pie can be ordered with gluten-free crust if you’re Celiac, sensitive, or just plain ditching wheat, and it’s a damn good crust. Made with Caputo gluten-free flour, the texture is soft, chewy, flavorful and more pizza-like than many other places that try to pass off hard flatbreads as “gluten-free pizza.”
There are also some super satisfying salads to lighten up the meal, like a Tuscan Kale ($14) and a Citrus Salad ($13) that I loved, with endive, avocado, grapefruit, and Mandarin oranges. Pizza Beach debuted a brunch menu last weekend too, featuring fresh-pressed juices and bee pollen-dusted grapefruit, and next weekend, it’ll open up a 35-seat outdoor patio.
Now if only you could follow up the meal with a relaxing stroll down a sandy beach instead of emerging onto busy Third Avenue. —Lisa Elaine Held
Pizza Beach, 1426 Third Ave., at 81st Street, Upper East Side, New York, NY, 10028, 646-666-0819, www.pizzabeachclub.com
(Photos: Nicole Franzen for Pizza Beach)