As the landscape of the South Bronx continues to change, news of openings in the area can be viewed with wide-eyed excitement and narrow-eyed vigilance. In the case of La Grata, the latest venture by Somerset Hospitality Group, both might apply. However, La Grata Pizzeria, located at 136 Alexander Ave in Port Morris, promises to be affordable and accessible to locals, with hires from the community like Monroe College students.
When they opened their doors Nov 2, the Bronx Food Blog was invited to a tasting of curated menu selections featuring the restaurant’s southern Italian specialities of soft-crust wood fired pizza, freshly-made pastas, and salads by Italy-native and executive chef Ermine Conte.
In addition to a caesar salad and rosemary focaccia triangles, foodies were served burrata pugliese to start. The firm mozzarella shell filled with velvety cream sitting on top of roasted cherry tomatoes was a welcomed take on a tomato basil mozzarella salad.
Margherita pizza: basil, tomato, and mozzarella
Funghi: wild mushroom mix
Carbonara white pizza topped with bacon and an egg over easy
The pizzeria followed the salads with margherita, funghi, and carbonara thin crust pies — the latter of which left the biggest impression on us with the egg over easy because we can’t resist BAE in any form.
Spaghetti and meatballs
Trenette Al Pesto Genovese
The perfect pasta dish is based on the freshness of ingredients, doneness of pasta, and balance of seasoning, which the spaghetti and meatballs, baked ziti, and trenette al pesto genovese all had. We enjoyed both red sauce pastas and loved the tenderness of the veal meatballs, but liked the pesto genovese the best. The pesto was creamy but refreshing, and the pine nuts added texture, which made it the most memorable.
However, it’s a seasonal special so don’t look for it on the menu past summer to early fall. New options like pappardelle with porcini and arugula are being offered instead.
Surprisingly, there was room for dessert, which was a nutella pizza and ricotta cheesecake served in a mason jar. Although they are separate orders, we preferred eating them together as the nutella got too overwhelming after a few bites. The ricotta cheese lifted the entire dessert course for us, but the dessert itself is definitely worth a solo order. We’re fans of the chocolate hazelnut spread at Gustiamo and would love to see La Grata use it in their nutella pizza for a lighter and less sugary substitution.