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New York-style pizza, fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – Nolita’s take on American comfort food is one we’d line up for again and again.

One the evening my friend and I swung by Nolita, a five-year-old boy whizzed by our tables, pausing briefly to wolf down two bites of his chicken Parmigiana pizza, tomato sauce was smeared clean up that kid”, I remarked smugly as I turned to my friend, who then pointed to the glob of cheese sticking to my chin, so much of poise.

Description: chicken Parmigiana pizza

chicken Parmigiana pizza

Fortunately, Nolita doesn’t care much for poise. There are even signs obliging diners to eat with their hands. What it cares for is great pizza – the kind that, when hot, is a glorious mess of toppings, runny cheese, and half-eaten dough so greasy it could fall through a paper plate.

Live in New York and pizza will become part of your everyday dining vocabulary, your wanderings dotted by pit stops under flickering neon signs for pepperoni and cheese. But here in Manila, you can gleefully make do with Nolita (pronounced no-lee-ta a.k.a shortand for ‘North of Little Italy’, a neighborhood in Manhattan), the new pizzeria at Bonifacio High Street that has every foodie smitten. Fanfare aside, there’s good reason to swing by: “Our crust is the real thing – it’s crisp yet chewy”, says Nolita’s Chef Cuit Kaufman. “When you bite into a slice, you really taste the ingredients”.

Description: Head Chef, Cuit Kaufman and Managing Partner, Albert Besa

Head Chef, Cuit Kaufman and Managing Partner, Albert Besa

Kaufman, who also mans the kitchen of New York-centric diner Borough in Ortigas, places a premium on authenticity while at times applying a devil-may-care approach to creating recipes. It’s all good fun – Nolita’s pizza offering consist of familiar and hearty flavors like basic cheese and pepperoni, which happily coexist alongside kookier subspecies, like blue cheese with wild mushroom with wild mushroom and walnuts. Another fun addition to the pizza party is a riff on the traditional cheeseburger, with toppings of mozzarella, bright purple onion rings, and chunks of beef.

In true New York fashion, pizzas are baked ahead of time and left to cool on the display. “This allows the cheese and ingredients to meld”, explains Kaufman. After ordering, your slice gets reheated, giving the crust its trademark crispness. On proper pizza etiquette, he adds: “There’s a logical reason why you eat it with your hands – you get the juices and flavors on your fingers. Otherwise, you lose out on so much”.

And there is so much: A beef tenderloin sandwich with Gruyère and arugula on Pillowy French bread. A mac ‘n’ cheese Redux with blue cheese, Guoda and white cheddar. And of course, the little sister to Borough’s give-in-to-guilt Elvis sandwich (peanut butter, bananas, sour cream, coco dulce de leche): a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich, simple but magical on homemade brioche.

Weekend nights at Nolita are hectic. If you like people-watching take in the long line of office workers and Twentysomethings, expats and mothers reeling in kinetically-charged children. When you’re finally handed your slice – a mildly sweet pesto, chicken, and sundried tomato, or a spinach and artichoke – you’ll be just as glad as that wild-eye five-year old wolfing down his.

Nolita is at 7th Avenue corner 31st Street, Bonifacio High Street Central, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

Description: Cheesebuger Pizza

Cheesebuger Pizza

Must-tried: Cheesebuger Pizza ($4.5), Spinach and Artichoke Pizza ($5.5), Wild Mushroom Walnut Blue Pizza ($6), Pesto and Grilled Chicken with Sundried Tomato ($6), Honey Garlic Buffalo Chicken Wings ($8), Sliced Steak Sandwich ($10), Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich ($5.5), Cannoli ($2).

Price range: Pizza by the slice ($3.3 to $6); Side orders ($3.5 to $5.75); Burgers and Sandwichies ($6 to $10); Salads ($4.5 to $5.75); Desserts ($2 to $6.75); Non-alcoholic drinks ($1 to $4); Cootails and Imported beers ($4 to $6).

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