By this point, you’ve probably heard everything you need to know about Bread & Salt. It’s good, the service is spotty, you’re probably going to wait. Get all of the pizza, get the meatballs, anchovies, the tripe, the beans, and absolutely get the sandwiches. All of this is true and nothing you read next will contradict that. So I’m just going to spend most of my words celebrating what an amazing achievement it is to get a place like this, and what we can do to get more place like this.
First, the food.
You’re going to miss out on slices, but this is fine. Yeah, you’ll want that slice that has some ingredient that doesn’t solely involve tomatoes and cheese, and those slices are really, really good. But because of your narrowed selection, you’ll be forced to try some other shit you would probably pass up. The $2 rossa slice would probably never make my cut since its effectively pizza without cheese, but is the best way you can spend $2 on pizza.
You’ll be forced to stretch your order out to encompass some unassuming seasonal veggies or beans and they will all be worth it. If a side has meat, get it. The meatballs and anchovies all live up to the hype – get those. If I must spend any energy convincing you to order buttered bread with bottarga you probably shouldn’t be allowed to eat here in the first place. Seats taken.
The sandwiches are the best part. They’re super simple, most consisting of just mortadella or salami and bread. They’re delightfully greasy and highlight how amazing the crust beneath your pizza toppings really is. If you see these on display they are a must order.
Speaking of simplicity…I will say, there’s something fetishistic about chefs who moan orgasmic over the simplicity of their preparation and the quality of their ingredients. Are you a good chef, yes or no? Because you’re not selling me on your ability to cook, you’re telling me you’ve got a good eye for selecting produce.
I remember watching one of these post-Bourdain traveling chefs shows where Jose Andres feeds the host a spoonful of gooey tomato seeds. Andres with the look of a sorcerer amused at the pungency of his own farts, the host showing the forced appreciation of someone who’s seen this rope trick one too many times.
I know this guy is a good chef. I know somewhere in his empire of restaurants this tomato caviar is probably a very expensive and transcendent dish. But…. its a fucking tomato. Relax.
If the preparation is so simple, and the ingredients are soooooo good, then why am I paying YOU $38 for this appetizer? I’d rather bust up these tomato guts in my sweatpants while catching up on Watchmen.
The faux-humble chef who attributes the success of a dish to whatever farmer or plot of land or varietal of eggplant they decided to use in a dish isn’t doing themselves any favors. The customer is educated enough that the expectation is to NOT have shitty ingredients, but they’re not educated enough to value, comprehend, or even care about micro-regionality in their pizza. They’re DEFINITELY not going to come back if you serve up mediocre local chum simply because its local. Sure, you can educate them, but they’re coming back and spending money because it tastes good.
With all that said, I’m not sure I’ve seen the dude from Bread & Salt stroke off at the ingredients instead of his own cooking prowess. If anything, he’s underplaying both his sourcing and cooking by just putting out the best shit he can find and shutting his trap. No parades, no accolades, just a fucking tomato. What a role model.
We need more places like this. If you’re not in agreement with me, let me make my case.
First, any article about this place can be boiled down into this headline: James Beard nominee with cult following tries to open in NYC but gets butt-fucked by the criminally competitive real estate market; opens in Jersey City.
These are the headlines we want.
The whole value prop for JC is that you can open for cheaper (even if marginally), with less competition, and get a lot of the NYC media buzz – if you’re good enough. The lines around Razza and the fact that Korai Kitchen stays filled echo this sentiment.
Right now, the math works in our favor, especially when a prospective establishment looks outside of downtown. This city is filled with hungry and thirsty people who want something good and different.
If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably taken three forms of public transit or a very expensive Uber to hit some semi-buzzed restaurant in Brooklyn. You’ve probably done this multiple times. You might even do this every weekend. Why is it so hard to believe that people won’t do the same for JC?
Additionally, you have the benefit of the stepchild complex that JC has. Fiercely loyal locals will keep your tables full and want good places to stay in business as long as you are genuine and serving good food.
If you build it they will come.
Domodomo, Michelin grade sushi, albeit on the decline, has found a new home in JC. Corto was in Bon Apetit. We’re getting a super secret sushi speakeasy. These are all good things. Lets keep that going
You want this place here. You want more Bread & Salts. To do this, you have to go. Make the lines longer. Reward them with your dollars and give the next person with a good idea a north star to drive towards.
But before you do all of that shit, stop at Riverview Wines, tell them you’re going to Bread and Salt so you can get an appropriate, affordable, amazing natural wine to pair. Then have some amazing food and tell your friends.
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