I love a pizzeria that knows what it’s about, one that doesn’t mess around with equal-opportunity menu items in a bid to offer wide appeal (blah pizzeria pasta dish, I’m looking at you). Happily, the menu at Burrata Wood Fired Pizza, the sleek new Eastchester pizzeria, is a paragon of focus. On its single page, you’ll find six antipasti, four salads, and 11 pizzas—all clean, modern takes on rustic dishes.
Burrata’s spell begins before you’re even offered a menu. At the risk of sounding New Agey, I’ll venture that Burrata’s dining room has good energy. The cheerful, bustling space is defined by its wide marble bar, which makes a welcoming spot for solo diners and, on weekends, the occasional table wait. If a table eludes, you could do worse than Burrata’s nicely poised Negroni (Beefeater Gin, Carpano Antica Formula, Campari; $12) or the Pompelmo (tequila, grapefruit, lime; $10), one on a rotating cocktail list. A bottle of Menabrea Ambrata Italian beer ($6) would also not go amiss. Or, you could settle in with Burrata’s homey, all-Italian wine list: All but three bottles are also sold in 9-ounce quartini. We were fans of Damilano’s ’09 Barbera ($13/$44), a very companionable friend to boards of salumi and formaggi (coppa, speck, sopressata, mortadella, burrata, Parmigiano-Reggiano, robiola; one item for $7/three items for $18/five for $25). Armed with any of the above, your table wait at Burrata will fly by.
Of course, the real story at Burrata is its imported, wood-burning oven built by a century-old Neapolitan oven fabricating company, now Stefano Ferrara Forni. It looms, glitteringly tiled in metallic orange-gold, like a mammoth goldfish with a maw that blasts up to 900 cruel degrees onto a pitiable, red-faced pizzaiolo. Call it schadenfreude, but watching this pizzaiolo labor at the oven’s mouth makes for fine dinner entertainment. Though cruel, we wish that the fiery beast were even more heavily employed: On both tries, the sodden toasts accompanying a starter of crema di burrata ($10) were limp messengers for an otherwise delicious dish. The cream-drenched curds of the restaurant’s eponymous cheese appear without their usual containing sack of stretched mozzarella. It’s an extravagantly rich offering—like cow-based caviar—highlighted by gritty sea salt and a lashing of olive oil. As with the crema di burrata’s toasts, wood-roasted beets might have benefited from more wood flavor (they merely tasted boiled), but antipasti of buttery Cerignola olives and perfectly golden, tender rings of mild calamari make winning picks for multi-generational dining. This is a perfect family dining spot for eating out.
On a good day, Burrata’s pizza delivers all that the Ferrara oven promises. Its rounds frequently bear the pizza magic of a light, yet chewy, raised lip (punctuated by a teasing mineral-tasting char). Sadly, pizzas at Burrata can be uneven. On two occasions, the crust of the signature Burrata pie (burrata, wild mushrooms, garlic, chili flakes; $18) was overloaded with wet toppings. Plus, I can’t shake the belief that burrata cheese should never be cooked. Its main pleasures—the textural differences of fior di latte skin and creamed curd—are lost in cooking. Wetness also plagued the Parigi (cognac onions, Gruyère, pancetta; $15), but Burrata’s margherita was a skilled version of the classic. We also loved a chili-spiked sausage pie (sausage, tomato, wild mushroom, pecorino; $16), and don’t miss the Tarry Lodge homage, the Sunny. Derivative or not, it’s hard to resist luxurious egg yolk when it unites with wood-fired bread and the gently melted fat of guanciale.
For dessert, don’t overlook the delightfully peculiar cannolo, whose milky, dairy filling bears no relation to the gluey, overly sugared standard. Panna cotta ($7), served in a container, was more fudgy than fragile, but with macerated strawberries and balsamic vinegar, it offered a pleasant meal’s end.
So…can you get better pizza in Westchester? On some days, yes; on others, no. But on any day that you’re lucky enough to visit Burrata, you will be hard-pressed to find as easy a winning neighborhood restaurant.
Burrata Wood Fired Pizza
425 White Plains Rd, Eastchester
(914) 337-3700; burratapizza.com
♦ ♦ ♦
Hours: lunch, daily noon-3 pm; dinner,
Mon to Thurs 5-10 pm, Fri and Sat 5-11 pm, Sun 5 pm-9 pm
Antipasti: $6-$10; salad: $8-$14; pizza: $12-$18; pasta: $15-$18; sides: $8; dessert: $7-$8
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ —Outstanding ♦ ♦ ♦ —Very Good
♦ ♦ —Good ♦ —Fair