Stinky was in town for a visit, so the old Smithie crew got itself together to hang out. catering to a vegetarian can be a little tricky at times, since i don't know that many and don't particularly adhere to the eating philosophy. since i'd have to shell out money for dinner regardless of what we ate, i would prefer somewhere that i wasn't limited to wheatgrass, tofu, and bean sprouts (although i love all those foods except for the wheatgrass).
luckily, L'asso came to the rescue. around the corner from Lombardi's (1 of NYC's pizza institutions), L'asso is as un-Lombardi's as you can get. if that term could be used as an adjective. which i've now created.
it's very thin crust pizza, with multiple variations of the Margherita (i've never seen so many different ways you can re-state the "tomatoes, basil, sauce, cheese" combination). my eyes sort of glazed over that aspect of the menu, especially since i couldn't order any of the variations on the theme e.g. crisp prosciutto. as to sauce-less pies, that's where L'asso's options shine. pizzas with apples, pistachios, walnuts, gorgonzola, various mushrooms, ricotta, etc.
the 4 of us decided to split a salad. fittingly, we ordered the Insalata L'asso ($13) which was a lightly dressed mixed greens salad hearts of palm, goat cheese, pistachio, asparagus, and fennel. while the fennel was not particularly present, the rest of the salad was perfect. the soft, fluffy goat cheese gave it the right amount of sharp flavor to balance the light oil and vinegar dressing. and i never say no to hearts of palm, which i liken to a softer version of bamboo shoots or slightly firmer than artichoke hearts.
we ordered a large pizza, which L'asso only serves in long skinny versions akin to a flattened loaf of italian bread (made out of thin crust pizza of course). the only circular pie you'll get at L'asso is the personal pie. the thin pizza loaf is actually perfect for sharing, allowing you to eat more than 1 "slice" without feeling like a heffer. the restaurant also allows you to order half and half on a pizza so you can sample some more flavors.
we had decided to order a half Margherita (tomato sauce, cooked buffalo mozzarella, oregano, basil and EVOO) and half Mela (mozzarella, gorgonzola, asparagus, apple and truffle oil). what we ended up with was half Margherita and half Tartufo (portabello pesto, mushrooms, mozzarella, rosemary and truffle oil). how, you ask, did that happen? simple: that's what happens when you let the out-of-town visitor make the order.
just a heads up about L'asso: it has a distinct hipster-vibe. i'm not anti-hipster (well not overly anti), and the fact that L'asso was hipster was part of the reason i picked it. i figured if Stinky's going to come to NYC, then we should take her somewhere "trendy" and delicious at the same time. i mean, i've never been to Seattle but i would wager the NYC's got Seattle beat in the hipster uprising. about every employee at L'asso was wearing a fitted flannel shirt and skinny jeans. i rest my case. so how did the hipster-ness of L'asso result in us getting a pizza we hadn't intended? the waiter, in his flannel and skinny jeans, skinny-tall body type, and intimate colloquialisms, had recommended the Tartufo when Bubby had asked for his "favorite" pizza*. when Stinky was ordering, she must've been brainwashed by the familiar mannerisms of the waiter, as well as his unique (and kind of attractive-i'm not gonna lie) hipster-ness. the rest of us were too busy wrapped up in conversation to notice, so it was a real surprise when our pizza showed up.
the pizza itself was pretty good. the Margherita was a little salty due to the sauce, but when eaten in conjunction with the sauce-less Tartufo, which is VERY mushroom-y, it was perfect. and between the 4 of us, the large was the appropriate amount of food to feel full, but not sleepy, and allowed us to continue the night at Spring Lounge for an after-dinner drink.
*i actually dislike this question. i don't care what the waiter likes to eat. i don't know him well enough to know what his tastes are like. is he vegetarian? does he prefer gluten-free? would he eat dim sum? these are all questions that invariably affect his taste in food. without knowing the answers to these questions, his opinion "moo" (like a cow's opinion, it doesn't matter-get that reference?). the only variation of the question i accept is "what's the most popular/most frequently ordered dish"? and even then, i actually only slightly care about this answer. i mean, who said i have to eat what the masses eat?