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Pizza Comes to Conca D’Oro

Fine new additions to longtime Italian ristorante

Apr. 21, 2015
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Photo by Danielle Dahl
With a green Ristorante Siciliano awning to mark the spot, Carini’s La Conca D’Oro has been a mainstay on the Upper East Side for many years. Recently, the long-running restaurant sacrificed a few tables in the rear for a welcome new addition, a wood-fired pizza oven.

The door of the bulbous metal oven, sitting astride a woodpile, is open to a roaring fire. Diners sitting nearby can watch as the chef inserts their pizza pie into the hot oven on a long-handled implement. The intense heat does the trick quickly. The 12-inch pizzas are Neapolitan style, brought to the table uncut (because slicing them can affect the crust through loss of moisture). The crust is slightly crisp at the edges but soft as pastry inside, neither thin nor thick, and the charring on top from the intense fire adds a touch of smoky flavor to the toppings.

The 13 pizzas listed on the menu ($11-$14) include marinara, Margherita and Parmesan, and come with or without tomato sauce. The latter option will surprise anyone who ties the color red to pizza in a word-association test, but the proof is in the pie: With good ingredients and preparation, the sauce is unnecessary for a moist, flavorful pizza. The pies can be customized in myriad ways with a host of additional toppings ($1-$1.50 each), including artichokes, sausage, Kalamata olives and prosciutto.

The other dinner entrées, most served with soup and salad as well as choice of potato or pasta, are Italian accented. Seafood is prevalent, including unusual items such as a calamari steak ($19), but steak is represented along with a dozen pasta dishes. Salads are available for lighter appetites and a vegetarian section includes delicious dishes prepared from squash, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, Parmesan cheese, eggplant and tomatoes.

Daily specials include Friday’s offering of four kinds of fish, including several preparations with an Italian flair. For years, Carini’s La Conca D’Oro featured a vegetarian lunch buffet. Nowadays it’s largely vegetarian, with breaded fish on Fridays and a rotating meat entrée joining the spread of pasta, eggplant and zucchini dishes, two soups and a salad bar. Visit soon to try the buffet; in the near future, Carini’s plans to replace all but the Friday offering with a lunch special ($12.95), including soup/salad and choice of pizza or entrée. The full menu will of course remain available in addition to the new special.

In addition to phenomenally pleasant servers, Carini’s has a lovely Mediterranean ambiance with tile floors, murals of Sicily and the southern Italian shore and an enclosed patio out front.

Carini’s La Conca D’Oro

3468 N. Oakland Ave.

414-963-9623

$$

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