From iPad Menus to an Infrared Grill, Tech is King at Union Square Pizzeria

By Heather Holland on April 16, 2014 6:51am 

UNION SQUARE — You can order this pizza and wine without saying a word.

At Pizza Vinoteca, a new two-story eatery at 15 Union Square West, everything is high-tech, from the grill used to cook the pizzas to the iPads that are doled out to guests instead of menus.

Diners can order food with the tap of a screen that contains high-resolution photos, lists of ingredients and allergy information, and those picking up takeout can track the progress of their meal on screens as the kitchen completes each item, said Ari Malcolm, the restaurant's CEO.

“There are three main components to the restaurant,” Malcolm said. “Pizza, wine and technology — hence our name.”

The iPad menus come with an app that describes the origin of each of the ingredients that go into dishes like the Jowlciale pizza, which is made with pork cheek, Calabrian chili pesto, mozzarella, pistachios and a touch of honey.

“You’ll learn that our cheese comes from Brooklyn and Wisconsin and our tomatoes come from California and New Jersey,” Malcolm said.

The 50-seat restaurant specializes in square pizzas, which are cooked over a 16-burner grill rather than in an oven. The grill uses hickory wood chips to give the pizza a smoky flavor, and the top of the pizzas are caramelized using infrared heat, he added.

“It’s a very American technique and reduces cooking time to only 2 minutes,” Malcolm said. “It gives the crust a great combination of crispy and chewy.”

Pizza prices range from $7.50 to $14.50.

The pizzeria, which is in a skylit mezzanine space that was once home to the headquarters of Tiffany & Co., also offers 36 international wines by the glass and half-glass.

An Enomatic dispensing machine controls portions, keeps wine at the appropriate temperature and seals it using argon gas — a technique that keeps wine fresh for months after opening, Malcolm said.

For dessert, the restaurant offers Tuscan-style doughnuts called bambaloni which come in milk chocolate, Mexican chocolate, raspberry jam, lemon curd and white chocolate coconut dolce de leche flavors. There's also gelato panini, in which gelato and toppings are pressed between layers of vanilla cake.

“It’s like a handheld gelato sundae,” Malcolm said.

Pizza Vinoteca, which is owned by European restaurateur and billionaire Julius Numavicius, soft-opened on March 21 with lunch and dinner, but plans to also offer breakfast-style pizzas for the morning crowd within the next two months, Malcolm said.

“We want to offer something for everybody,” Malcolm said.

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