Lately I’ve been getting in touch with my Italian heritage through food, which is how I wound up at Levante, Long Island City’s newest pizzeria last night. Actually, that’s not exactly true my barber Kirk Riley told me about it while I was in the chair yesterday evening. “Gonna go wherever the wind takes you?” he quipped when I told him I had no plans for the night.
And that’s how I wound up standing on Jackson Avenue perusing the menu of this Napoletana newcomer, which opened late last month, and is named for the East Wind. After mulling over the roster of more than a dozen pies, I settled on the LIC ($21), topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, speck, fresh ricotta, and truffle pate.
With its swirl of truffle oil, slices of aged smoked ham, and clouds of ricotta, the LIC’s a gorgeous looking pie. It tastes as good as it looks too. The salty, smokey speck plays nicely with the earthy truffles and creamy ricotta, all supported by a killer crust. I was especially hungry, so I ate the whole thing. I didn’t feel too gross either, for like all good pizza, Levante’s doesn’t sit too heavily.
Afterwards I chatted with pizzaiolo Francesco Perna who told me why Levante’s crust is so light. The dough is cold fermented between 72 and 96 hours. “That way the yeast works and pushes all the air out,” he said between making pies.
Levante is an outpost of Luzzo’s BK in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, where the same pie goes by the name Luzzo’s BK. I’m not sure if Levante is named for the East Wind because it lies east of the original location, but I’d like to think so. Here’s hoping that this Brooklyn transplant flourishes, just like I did when I moved to Queens.
Levante, 26-21 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, 718-392-3885