Dining

Anatomy of a Dish: Thai Coconut Curry and Rock Shrimp Pizza

Pizza Beach brings innovative pies to the Upper East Side
Pizza Beach
Photo: Dave Katz/Tasting Table 

If some of the topping combinations at the Upper East Side's Pizza Beach give you pause, heed the wisdom of Patrick Swayze's bleached-blond Bodhi in Point Break: "Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true." For us, that would be Margherita monotony.

The vibe at the new spot from The East Pole's Martignetti brothers is Montauk meets Manhattan, complete with whitewashed brick walls, a mounted wooden surfboard, hanging ferns and loosely strung Edison bulbs (think: the back garden at Ruschmeyer's). And the thin-crust pizzas have a surfer's devil-may-care attitude, topped with everything from Merguez sausage with Oaxacan cheese and shishito peppers ($20) to Japanese eggplant with smoked mozzarella ($18).

"We didn't want to do the same old pizzas," says chef Joe Capozzi of The East Pole, who created a special pie for the menu. "Sure, you can find a Margherita and a soppressata, but we wanted to do something different."

The overall motto seems to be: Be brave, and it will pay off. Take Capozzi's cheese-free Thai Coconut Curry and Rock Shrimp pizza, on which he gives us the lowdown. As Bodhi says, "If you want the ultimate, you've got to be willing to pay the ultimate price." Here, that would be $19—and it's worth it.

The dough. "I wouldn't call it Neapolitan," Capozzi says of the of the medium-thin crust. Sure enough, it's a little bit firmer, with a super-puffy crust, and doesn't sag under the weight of the toppings. It's slow-fermented, and that floral flavor? It's from a touch of honey. The pies are cooked for just a few minutes in the restaurant's Wood Stone oven.

Coconut curry. Arrivederci, tomato sauce. This pie is spread with a red jalapeño-spiked curry paste that's cooked down with caramelized onion and coconut milk until thick and jam like. It's then spread lightly all over the pie, offering a nice balance of sweetness and heat—though not too much that it overpowers everything else.

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Rock shrimp. He goes with the smaller rock shrimp, rather than larger varieties, for their "concentrated flavor," Capozzi says. The shrimp are quickly sautéed with garlic and ginger before being added to the pie.

Cilantro. A smattering of leaves adds a bracing hint of brightness and herbaceousness.

Pizza Beach 1426 3rd Ave. New York NY 10028 646-666-0819

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