A group of NYC girlfriends and I have been getting together for monthly dinners over the past five years. For our most recent girl’s dinner, we decided to check out the new Massoni restaurant in the Arlo Nomad Hotel. Spoiler alert: they have some of the best pizza I’ve tasted in the city!
Massoni restaurant is a new creation by restaurateurs David Massoni, Dale Talde (Top Chef alum), and John Bush. The three combine to form Three Kings Restaurant Group, which has locations in Brooklyn, Miami, and now Manhattan.
Since Massoni is located in the trendy boutique hotel, the Arlo Nomad, you pass through its chic lobby before entering the restaurant (pictured above).
When you pass the bar and arrive at Massoni, you’ll be struck by the cool Asian/Italian flare of the decor. You’ll see a sleeping warrior on the exposed brick wall, which is juxtaposed next to vintage newspaper clippings and Italian-related imagery.
As expected, the theme of the decor matches the theme of the food. One thing our waiter said that stuck with me is that the food at Masssoni restaurant is “Italianish”, featuring your typical Italian dishes, while adding a flourish of Asian pizzazz.
Italian-Asian fusion may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of tasty food combos, but I’m telling you that at Massoni it works.
Pictured: fritto misto — calamari, grapes, lemon, fra diavolo, pastrami spiced aioli
We decided to share everything we got at Massoni restaurant so that we could sample a bunch of different things from the menu. I always like a lot of variety when I’m eating out, so I’m big on sharing to maximize the appeal to my taste buds.
We started out with the biriyani rice balls with spicy tomato sauce, which are a twist on arancini, one of my favorite Italian street foods. The only addition I would make to these would be to bring on the cheese! The gooier the better in my humble opinion.
We balanced out the fried goodness of the rice balls with the Tuscan kale salad with green papaya, persimmon, basil, peanuts, and smoked saba-nuoc mam (fish sauce). Tuscan kale is also known as lacinato kale, and it mixed wonderfully with the otherwise very Asian ingredients.
Many of you know that I lived in Rome for close to three years and ate my way across the country and back. Hence, I have had my share of good pizza. Whether it be from NYC (medium thickness and gooey), Chicago (super deep dish), Napoli (cooked in a wood-fired oven, thin with fresh mozzarella), Roma (al taglio, cooked in an electric oven), I’ve had it all.
Well, the pizza at Massoni is some of the best I’ve had in NYC, though I wouldn’t necessarily call it “Italian”. Luckily, this fits with the whole inauthentic Italian, or “Italian-ish”, theme at Massoni.
Below is the “cheese, sauce and oregano”, or “Margherita” pizza. It was hands down my favorite thing at Massoni. It’s a deep dish pie, almost reminiscent of Pizza Hut’s golden buttery crust, but obviously much higher tier. It had just the right amount of cheese and sauce, and when I come to Massoni again I will be eating this one all by myself!
We also had the pizza with charred brussels sprouts, pistachio pesto, and ricotta salata. This one was quite tasty as well.
Finally, we tried the mushroom, french onion mascarpone and smoked mozzarella pizza, pictured below. All three pizzas were great, but the Margherita was the clear winner for me.
No visit to an Italian restaurant is complete without some pasta. We got the Bucatini with nueske’s bacon, marinara and chilis. It was delicious, but the moderate portion meant we only got one forkful each between the five of us 🙁 Did I say that I like to share food? I think I’m beginning to second guess that notion!
Then it was time for dessert. As I mentioned before, I like to try a bit of everything, so we got one of each kind of dessert on the menu. First up was the homemade apple tart with caramel and cinnamon ice cream.
Then we had the Snickers cannoli. Initially I didn’t want to order these, as I was already full and on carb overload. However, I think these were my favorite part of dessert. Instead of the traditional hard cannoli shells, these were light, crispy and crunchy.
And the traditional cannoli cream was made all the more interesting by adding in crushed pieces of Snickers. Yum!
Finally, we had the ice cream sundae complete with brownie pieces, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. It was a super cute ending to the meal!
If you work in the Nomad neighborhood of Manhattan, you’ll be happy to know that Massoni offers to-go pizza slices, pastries, coffee, and sandwiches at the “Bodega” in the lobby of the Arlo Nomad hotel. If I worked nearby, I’d definitely come by for a slice more than I’d like to admit.
I can’t wait to get back to Massoni as soon as possible, and this time I will be ordering the Margherita pizza all to myself! Don’t come if you like to share 😉
For more info about Massoni Restaurant in the Arlo Nomad, visit their website here.