New Haven has its fair share of pizza, but when your taste buds tire of the standard stuff, there’s Kitchen Zinc. This artisanal pizza parlor is Zinc’s casual/cool little brother, impressing the ladies (and the gentlemen) with its trendy pies — and a full bar.
To get to Kitchen Zinc, turn into the alleyway just before Zinc and head toward Felice Varini’s “Square with four circles;” you can’t miss it. Make sure you go for dinner, because it’s only open after 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
The restaurant has a small dining space with a wall of booths, seating at the bar opposite and tables on the floor in between. The patio will open mid-April. With big ceilings and dim lighting, the atmosphere exuded a subdued vibrance on Saturday at six when I stopped by to pick up my pies.
I’d ordered one red pizza and one white in advance, and, because I’m greedy, chose two sets of toppings on each of the 12-inch, thinnish-crust pizzas. On the white side, I got half BLT (Applewood smoked bacon, frisee, Great Hill blue and mozzarella cheeses, fresh tomatoes) and half portobello (portobello mushroom, balsamic marinade, caramelized onion, Fontina cheese, topped with arugula salad). On the red side, I got half smoked chicken (North Country’s smoked chicken, artichokes, green olives, Fontina, mozzarella cheese) and half sausage. I never actually tried that part, but more on that later.
A quick aside: props to the menu-writer at Kitchen Zinc — never before have I wanted so badly to order everything off a menu.
After assembling a team of pro pizza-eaters, we got to chomping. One hour of intense gustatory action later, we came to the conclusion that there were no clear winners, except for us and our bellies. The BLT, my favorite, had perfectly sized bits of bacon tempered by pieces of endives and clumps of tomatoes. The cheeses were smooth and not too salty, a nice compliment to the bacon. On the chicken portion, the sliced green olives brightened up the smokiness of the poultry. The portobello tasted a little bland after the deep flavors of the BLT and the smoked chicken but maintained a level of sophistication.
There was one dud: Kitchen Zinc regrettably switched our half order of sausage pizza with a half order of their sopressata pizza (spicy sopressata, radicchio, black olives, mozzarella, parmesan). The trifecta of salami, whole black olives and cheeses was really just salt on salt on salt, and I went crawling back to the more mild simplicity of the portobello pizza afterward.
Overall, Kitchen Zinc is really, really, really good (it lost its chance for a fourth “really” with the sopressata), and at around $15 a pie, it’s worth a bite, or several.