First Impressions: Kesté

Back story: Italian-born Roberto Caporuscio learned how to make pizza in Naples, Italy, and then emigrated to the U.S., where he opened restaurants in Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and eventually New York City. The first Kesté is on Bleecker; the second is in Williamsburg; and now there’s one in Southbridge Towers, just off of Fulton Street. (It’s called Kesté Wall Street, in a stretch.) The new location, which Caporuscio is opening with his pizzaiola daughter, Giorgia, includes a school where they teach people how to make Neapolitan-style pizza.

The atmosphere: It’s done in a sort of generic Italian restaurant style, with faux historical touches and unavoidable TVs promoting specific menu items and the Kesté brand in general. There are a couple of nice booths for larger groups by the southern windows. Kesté is relatively affordable compared to most new full-service restaurants in Lower Manhattan, which is admirable, but regarding the decor, you’re not getting what you don’t pay for.

The menu: The 12-page booklet is easier to read here, but I’m including photos of the relevant pages to show just how extensive it is. There’s a whole page of gluten-free dishes, and vegetarian and vegan items are said to be labeled, although many unlabeled items also appear to fit those descriptions. Substitutions and additions are not allowed “to preserve the authenticity & efficiency of our process.”

Gold star: The four of us had salads and pizzas, which were fine and excellent, respectively; if there’s better pizza below Canal, I don’t know it. Service was capable enough in a newly opened establishment at this price point.

Room for improvement: What’s done is done with much of the decor, but the TVs are inexcusable. They’re bad enough on their own, but why use them to promote the restaurant? We’re already there. Also, when one of my companions asked for Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on the pizza, he was told, “No cheese.” But red pepper flakes are OK? The arbitrariness runs contrary to the quote on page two of the menu about how customers are Roberto Caporuscio’s inspiration.

Anything else? Happily, we’ll be able to eat Kesté’s delicious pizza at home when delivery (with a three-mile radius) starts in the next week or two.

Contact: Kesté is at 77 Fulton (at Gold, on the north side of DeLury Square); 212-693-9030; kestepizzeria.com.

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8 Comments

  1. That location is a dump. They’ll prob kill it in delivery though.

  2. Kesté can also deliver to parts of Tribeca from their Bleeker Street location.

  3. Are there w hubby and newborn baby a couple of weeks ago. We had the signature pizza (forgot the name but it was the one w lightly friend dough) and it was delicious. We really enjoyed our meal and liked that it’s not overpriced. Hubby had to change baby diaper but there were no changing stations in the bathrooms, the manager apologized and said they will have them installed in the future. We really appreciate their willingness to do that. Anyway, we wish the establishment much success. We walked by the private event room and the mom in me was even thinking of hosting kiddo’s birthday party there.

  4. So excited about the Gluten Free menu and to have a Keste in the area. The delivery from Bleecker em was for obvious reasons often cold. But agree when I walked by last weekend the decor was very disappointing and not welcoming at all. From the overall set-up and floor tile to the brightness of the lights and those TVs. Better atmosphere makes the food taste better and ensures you come back for more. Hopefully their good food will be enough! Wishing them good luck!!

  5. Went the first week. It’s mostly full of kids. Lots of other quieter places for good pizza in the area now so probably won’t need to go back.

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