If you follow any of the food industry news sites out there, you've probably heard all about this "white hot" "blockbuster" of an opening. Blockbuster? Eh, more like the restaurant equivalent of Hollywood Video. Marta has got all the hits in stock, but the in-store experience just isn't as hot.
Here's the thing about Marta, Danny Meyer's new pizzeria inside the Marta Washington Hotel located in the exact place where Flatiron, NoMad and Murray Hill meet: The room sucks really bad. If it feels like eating inside a sterile hotel lobby, well, that's because you are. Plenty of hotels have restaurants inside them, but they're usually separate entities that have their own identities. At Marta, you literally walk into the front door, dodge the bellman, and check in at what might as well be the concierge desk. Feel is such an important element to dining out (see, The Feel Good Factor™). Some restaurants have got it going on and others simply don't. Unfortunately, Marta does not. We're weighing so heavily on the room here because it's always such a key component to the Danny Meyer hospitality experience. If anyone knows how important that special feeling is, it's Meyer, who we have a lot of respect for. Maybe because this one was just a pizza joint, he let that part slide, but this place doesn't feel like everything else he's done.
What Marta does have going on are some pretty damn tasty Roman-style pizzas, and a roster of other stuffed and fried things to eat before you get to the main event. The food is definitely delicious - there's no question about that - but it also isn't good enough to make us go out of our way to come back. That being said, you can do a lot worse for a power lunch in a part of town that doesn't have a ton happening restaurant-wise, or for a post-Madison Square Garden dinner. Here's to hoping they start delivering soon.
Crushed avocado on toast. You're familiar.
Our server said this not-so-awesome cheese and vegetable-laced egg concoction was the best breakfast item on the menu, was the most popular dish on the menu, which begs the question - WHY IS THERE NO BREAKFAST PIZZA ON THE MENU? We want breakfast pizza please.
A really nice serving of octopus, seared and doused in olive oil, in a bed of sunchokes and a bunch of other action. Definitely worth ordering.
AKA fried balls filled with green risotto and mozzarella. You want these.
More filled fried things, this time with potato, scallions and spicy soppresata. Definitely not a bad situation.
Rabbit Meatballs. Lighter than your typical meatballs, these come in a really nice tomato sauce with black olives and ricotta. We'd order them again for sure.
The true test of any pizza place is their plain pie, and Marta passes with flying colors. Roman-style pizza has super thin, super crispy crust, and honestly tastes more like eating flatbread than the doughy style New York pizza we're all used to eating. It's a nice change of pace, and we like it.
The carbonara pizza was a little underwhelming. I think we get so excited about eating rich, eggy, pepper and potato-laced pizza that it's inevitably disappointing and generally better when prepared as a pasta instead (like they do at Maialino).
If you like taking shrooms, then this is the cracker pie for you. The crispy crust is covered in hen of the woods, chanterelles, and red onions. Don't eat too much - you need to remain in control.
The vegetarian pies at Marta are no joke. We had one initially that's now off the menu, which was our favorite. It was a corn, kale and tomato pizza that was incredible. We also like the current one, which comes with brussels sprouts, cauliflower and pickled chili and parmigiano.
A beer-brined chicken breast, heavily-spiced, with a nice char on the outside. This is definitely tasty, but also tough to cut up in a way that makes it easily shareable. Know that before you order one for the table.
Grilled lamb chops and shoulder, sitting atop a bean salad. The chops area seasoned and perfectly. We'd definitely go this route again.