#4 Kesté, New York, N.Y. (Kesté: Tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, gran cru olive oil)
"This is it. New York’s #1," notes Kesté’s website. And in fact, that’s what the restaurant’s name means in Neapolitan dialect: "This is it." Eight years after opening in 2009, it’s hard to argue that Kesté doesn’t belong in the conversation. This is the place you take Italians — better yet, Neapolitans — or anyone who has experienced Italy’s pizza culture, when they ask for demonstrations of New York’s Neapolitan pizza IQ.
Owner Roberto Caporuscio (who runs the restaurant with his daughter, Georgia) was born and raised on a dairy farm in Pontinia, Italy, an hour from Naples. He’s the president of the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli(APN — Association of Neapolitan Pizza Makers) in the U.S., the Italian governing body that teaches the 150-year-old art of Neapolitan pizza-making and certiﬁes adherence to authentic procedures.
Kesté (which has since expanded with a few more locations citywide) has that signature chewy crust, the soft, slightly soupy middle, the balance of quality ingredients. Close your eyes and you’re transported to the back alleys of Naples. While you may not want to share it with your traditional-minded Italian friends, the eponymous pie with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, and gran cru olive oil takes the restaurant’s name proudly, and doesn’t let it down.