First Impressions: Caravelli’s Pizzeria

I go to Ed’s Lobster Bar up on Lafayette often enough—I was there just last week—so I was intrigued to learn a while back that owner Ed McFarland was planning an Italian restaurant, Caravelli’s Pizzeria, for the World Financial Center. In an item about how it opened yesterday, the New York Times said that it’s serving not just pizza but also “plates like chicken parm and deli-style heroes.” Oh.

The menu (click to enlarge)

The restaurant is where Donald Sacks used to be, next to Così. If you enter from the western side, you pass among the tables with their red-and-white-check plastic tablecloths; once inside the enclosed part, you face a cash-only pizza counter. To your right is the deli counter, which has another entrance. A refrigerator case displays all manner of plastic-wrapped Boar’s Head products.

In March, McFarland said that Caravelli’s would offer “thin-crust pizza as well as my own Sicilian specialties.” The sign in front touts “Italian Comfort.” What it all boils down to: Italian-American slice-joint stuff like sausage and peppers, calzone, garlic knots, meatball parm sandwiches, rice balls, and so on. (Even mozzarella sticks.) Oddly, you can also get fries, clam chowder, and chicken noodle soup.

I ordered two slices, one plain and one with roasted vegetables. As I waited, I looked around and took some photos. The restaurant is on a year-long “pop-up” lease, so maybe the minimal effort put into it is to be expected. The interior spaces have a stripped-down vibe—white tile and white-painted wood paneling—that call to mind Ed’s Lobster Bar. As for the food-court tables, you may have a stronger stomach for that sort of thing than I do.

The pizza, while nothing special, was better than it looks. The crust isn’t of the new artisanal quality you’re more likely to see at restaurants outside of Lower Manhattan, but it had an nice crispiness on the bottom. The cheese on the plain one struck me as cheap and exceedingly greasy. The roasted vegetables were a pleasant surprise—the char tasted real.

I’m not the target market, of course. WFC workers are, and they may be grateful for Caravelli’s in a way that I can’t relate to. I want Franny’s or Motorino or Roberta’s or even Donatella, not the same old slices. Every time a pizzeria opens around here, I get excited. And then I eat there—and, well, it’s not amore.

Caravelli’s Pizzeria is at 3 World Financial Center, 212-323-6290; Open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Recent NKOTB and First Impression articles:
Kansas Gallery
White & Church
Goodie Girl Café
Space B
Hionas Gallery
Aminah et les Amis



  1. Best pizza is Dona Bella on the corner of Chambers and Church. Brookfield is kicking all of their WFC stores out by the end of September to make way for a food court to cater to the millions of tourists. That is probably why the short-term lease. Happy they made the right choice to save the stairs.

  2. @Kerry F.: I’ll give Dona Bella another try—last time I went in I think I burned out my eyes. (It’s so bright you could operate in there!) When it comes to slice joints I’m partial to Little Italy on Park Place (Church/Bway), especially what they call the margherita….

  3. Saluggi’s on Church just south of Canal is great too. I agree about the brightness in Dona Bella but I was so pleasantly surpised by the quality of the pizza. I recommend Dona Bella for delivery or takeout. Atmosphere would not rate high on Zagats. Saluggis is nice for dine in. Kids love the shuffleboard downstairs.