Whenever I have a chance to venture down to the Lower East Side I always am so excited. I don't know if it’s the gorgeous view down the FDR on a warm night or just knowing there are so many great things and places to see. Some of my favorite little eateries and bar gems are on the LES, and without fail I always stumble upon something new. Like gastropubs with an extensive hotdog and beer menu or an exotic themed tiki bar that's decked in Polynesian decor and serves up some of the most tasty cocktails that instantly transport you to a white sandy beach (yes I swear). When I was asked to stop into Goodfellas I quickly assumed I was heading to Mulberry Street for some Little Italy action, but to my surprise Goodfellas is located right on the corner of Orchard Street (not too far from the infamous Little Italy). It was time to see what this "World's Best Pizza" was all about.
As we entered the quaint corner restaurant we were hit with the delicious smoky smell of the wood burning ovens. Karol, one of the restaurant's owners told us to pick a table and get comfy. The restaurant was filled with about 15 wooden tables and chairs, which gave the feel of an old-timey New York pizzeria. It being one of the most humid nights in a while, I knew I needed something refreshing, so we both ordered up two ice cold Blue Point Summer Ales and a bottle of Pellegrino.
As soon as the menus were handed to us my eyes were drawn to the specialty pizzas. Everything sounded so good. "Fresh mozzarella, crumbled sausage, plum tomatoes," how could you go wrong? First things first. Since it was so warm outside we decided to start out with the calamari salad (calamari, arugula, red onion, celery, olives, roasted peppers, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, $12). This salad was so tasty and light. The calamari was tender and the zest of the lemon juice went so well with the peppery arugula and sweet red roasted peppers. We scooped up every morsel in the salad bowl, we couldn't get enough.
After scoping out all of the delicious sounding pizzas we had our hearts set on the quattro stagioni, which means four seasons in Italian. The pizza came out hot and smoking and topped with fresh plum tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, black olives, diced prosciutto and fresh seasoned mushrooms (large $23, individual $12). This pizza was crispy, crusty and seasoned perfectly. The veggies all married so well together and the crust was just the right ratio of crunchy and soft. Goodfellas even had a great special of the night, offering free draft beer with the order of any pie, how convenient for a week night out for two.
We knew we wanted to continue our delicious streak of lighter fare and decided on the fruitti di mare (jumbo shrimp, clams, calamari, mussels, sauteed with olive oil, garlic, fresh basil and marinara sauce served over a bed of linguine, $24). Since my fiance and I are watching our waistlines we decided to nix the pasta (I know, what a sin!) and went with a huge order of delicious sauteed broccoli rabe. The seafood was divine with the mix of shellfish and garlic and fresh tomato sauce, everything was flavored and cooked to perfection. I couldn't stop forking the calamari rings into my mouth and the tiny cherry stone clams were sweet as can be.
I loved how simplistic yet original Goodfellas was from their food choices to their atmosphere. Although the menu did have many of the Italian restaurant staples like gnocchi pomodor, brick oven steak and veal parmigiani, just to name a few, they still kept to their own unique twist on many of their pizzas and dinner entrees. From groups of friends to couples with children, Goodfellas is the perfect little spot for a quick pizza pie (they do not sell by the slice) or for a delicious bowl of pasta or seafood.
We ended the night with a wonderful cup of cappuccino that was frothy and had just enough kick to end a delicious meal. I would recommend Goodfellas for couples looking for a low-key dinner for two or for a casual family dinner. The atmosphere is no frills and the menu perfection for someone who is looking for a true home style Italian meal.
Goodfellas: 144 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002. Tel: 212-432-3200.