Timone's: New York-Inspired Pizza Place Invades Morningside

Don't make the mistake of calling Timone's a New York-style pizza joint. Chef/owner Ron Eyester prefers the term New York-"inspired" pizza joint. Yes, its décor gives nods to the Big Apple. It has gritty brick wall paneling and paintings of iconic New York celebrities. Each booth represents a borough with tables featuring maps of one of them.

But it's definitely not a greasy Big Apple dive. It has an open kitchen and a homey bar where sipping beer and wine is welcome. Timone's (pronounced Tih-moe-nees) is the maiden name of Eyester's mom, an Italian-American woman from Brooklyn. The food it serves pays homage to her and the rich Italian meals chef Eyester, a transplant from Long Island, grew up feasting on.

The menu consists of family-style meals. Many of the ingredients come from local farms, something Eyester is keen on supporting. At the tasting I attended, Eyester and his team offered generous samples of practically his entire offering. It included helpings of Fried Point Judith Calamari, Rhode Island style, not to be confused with regular calamari. This fried squid is chunky and nestled with giant red peppers, dusted with cheese, and melts in the mouth upon entering. That typical stringy calamari taste is gone.

The giant rice balls, an Italian food staple, were delicious. They had a crispy coating bathed in marinara sauce and were filled inside with sweet peas, prosciutto, and Parmesan cheese. The marinated mushrooms were plump, plentiful, and a vegetarian's tart delight. Those who are not fans of fried clams — like yours truly — will change their minds given how Eyester prepares them. The clam meat is pulled out, seasoned, breaded, and baked, then put back on its shell for frying. The result? A spicy meaty hit.  

Those were just some of the starters.  

Of course pizza takes top billing at Timone's, since it is a pizza place. Here is where Eyester shows off his creative chops. He serves a roasted local squash, fried capers, lemon zest, Georgia olive oil, garden basil, and mozzarella pizza. There is also a local oyster mushrooms, Benton's country ham, shallot, romano, and sweet grass L'il Moo pizza.

I opted to try the traditional New York-inspired cheese pizza. At Timone's, it tasted fresher and somehow healthier. Knowing that the dough used is a blend of Anson Mills organic Farinadi Pizzalolo heirloom flour and King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten unbleached flour with a hint of Savannah Bee orange blossom honey and sea salt, somehow makes it sweeter.

Timone's also has a carbon filtration system that transforms the water into New York-style tap water. (As a native New Yorker myself, I thankfully couldn't taste the fluoride, the other special ingredient in Big Apple tap water. I'm assuming they skipped adding that.)

The Italian pizza place is Eyester's third Morningside eatery. It's on the same block as his two other restaurants, Rosebud's and The Family Dog. It is also Eyester's serious foray into Italian food. He has truly assimilated into his adopted Southern home, founding the Mother Clucker Fried Chicken festival, where assorted chefs show off their best fried chicken. He is the food master behind Chick-a-Biddy, which recently opened at Atlantic Station, which offers farm-fresh chicken -  grilled, fried, and any other way he dreams up preparing it, with Southern embellishments like watermelon feta salad as a side.

Timone's is open 4 p.m – 11 p.m.