Flatiron Lunch: Skip the Mac N Cheese, But Go For the Braised Lamb Pizza at Waldy’s
Now that Downtown has its very own section of the site, what are we going to post on Fridays at 10am? Answer… how about a new column devoted to those lunches just south of the ML boundaries. Every week we’ll post about a lunch in Murray Hill south, Gramercy, Flatiron, and everything in between… or as we’ll call it from now on: Flatiron Lunch.
Hey folks, I’ll be taking over for Jason on the weekly Flatiron Lunch column. I work at the southern end of Midtown, near the Empire State Building and often end up going out of bounds to find something worthwhile to eat. From now on, I’ve got a good excuse to go exploring even more.
When I first started thinking of lunch spots to cover for Flatiron Lunch, Waldy’s (800 6th Ave btwn 27th & 28th) was one of the first to come to mind. I’d tried out their flatbread pizza last summer and had been looking for an excuse to make my way over there again ever since.
The pizzas are more long and oval than circular and come in three different sizes to allow for sharing. They go into the wood burning oven behind the counter when you order, so there’s a bit of a wait for that, but never particularly long and I’ve never seen a crowd accumulate. I’m pretty fond of the smell of all those logs burning in the oven, so I could wait there all day.
The pizza itself is not a traditional pie. It’s crust is thin and crisp and gets a little bit of char from the superhot oven. Each bite allows a slight chewiness to balance out the crunch, so you aren’t eating a pizza cracker. More importantly, the toppings available tend to be much more interesting that you’ll find elsewhere. The sausage and peppers pizza, above, is relatively common, but done very well. Crumbles of sausage and ribbons of roasted red peppers decorate the top of the pie with sprinklings of basil here and there. It’s got real sausage on it, rather than the pellets of greasy meat paste you get in some places.
On the more unusual end of the spectrum, you have toppings like the braised lamb. Shreds of the meat are piled on, tender and juicy, it’s a thing of beauty. The pies range in price from $6 for a plain to $9 for clams and ricotta. That is somewhat pricey, but even the small is a good size, bigger than your typical personal pizza.
All the pies share a blend of four cheeses that have the required stretchy, chewy texture, but also adds a little complexity with a little bit of saltiness and bite of sharpness.
Besides the usual condiments and dried herbs that most pizzerias supply, Waldy’s also offers a small garden of fresh herbs that customers can snip off themselves and sprinkle on their pizza. It’s a bit of a gimmick, given how well spiced the pizzas are already, but it’s a nice touch.
In addition to the pizza, the menu lists “Wood Roasted Penne,” Waldy’s take on mac n cheese. I love all forms of mac n cheese and pretty much everything is better wood roasted. Maybe not ice cream, but you get the idea. So, I went back for a special trip to see what it was all about. Unfortunately, it was the one thing I was completely disappointed by. Served in a paper microwave dish, it looks exactly like a TV dinner. Worse, it really tasted that way too. The Double Cheddar Cheese was basically goopy cheez whiz and the pasta was gummy. Gross. I couldn’t even finish it, which is really not something that happens too often.
All in all, the place is still a win, so long as you never, ever touch the penne. The location is convenient to lower Midtowners, like myself, and the pizza is like nothing else nearby.
Waldy’s Pizza, 800 6th Ave. (btw. 27+28th), 212-213-5042
Update: Whoops, I was reminded in the comments that Waldy’s offers free anchovies on any of the pizzas. They also have a lunch special from 11am to 4pm where Poland Spring and Coke products are free with your pizza or Penne.
Also of note from the comments, Waldy is Waldy Malouf, the chef at Beacon, home of the Mamacita-Approved Happy Hour special. The pizza here is the same style as what you get there.