Prova means “to try” in Italian. It also refers to the period of time it takes for dough to rise. The double meaning is appropriate for Chelsea’s new pizza haven, which occupies a spot on Eighth Avenue where two restaurants in the past two years have failed. “The third time is the charm,” says Francesco Settanni, refilling my wine glass. He winks. “We’re trying.”
New York might be known for its pizza, but Prova is in an entirely different league. Opened on January 7, 2015, Prova is my new go-to place for Vera Pizza Napoletana. Lucky for me, it’s located just blocks from where I live. They import all of their ingredients from Naples and offer classiche (classics) like the Marinara, Margherita—and of course, the Napoletana. I was most excited about trying their “Unica” pizza, topped with Santa Barbara sea urchin.
I love sea urchin. I first tried it in Japan with my dad. He let me tag along on a business trip when I was a teenager, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. It’s unsurprising that theirs is amazing: Maurizio de Rosa, a co-owner of Prova, owns Sushi Nakazawa in the West Village. (I recommend watching the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” if you haven’t already.)
Prova’s Unica pizza is listed under Novitá—which translates as “novelty” or “innovation”—and it’s a great twist on a traditional dish. Chef Pasquale Cozzolino uses an ancient cooking technique: He puts ice chips in the middle of the dough to keep the middle weighted down, then pops it into the custom-built pizza oven. After the toppings are added, it goes back into the oven for approximately one minute. The blend of Pecorino Romano, sea urchin, squid ink reduced with red wine, olive oil, and mint and lemon zest is divine. Believe me, it’s worth the $29.
What: Authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Where: Prova Pizza, 184 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011; (212) 641-0977.
When: Opened January 7, 2015.