Jim Lahey’s Co.: A Wallet Whapper Worth a Walk But Not A Taxi

Jim Lahey has a great publicist.  What he doesn’t have is a great pizza.  His cheese and tomato sauce are pleasant enough on his margherita pizza—a good margherita is the litmus test for a good pizzeria like a good vanilla ice cream is for a gelateria—but pleasant doesn’t cut it at this price point or at this level of customer expectations.  Further, cheese and sauce are more about good shopping than cooking.

The real mark of mastery and the real story here is supposed to be the crust.  Not a surprise when the owner made his name baking bread at Sullivan Street Bakery.  Lahey’s turns out to be fine but nothing to start a blog war over.  On a pair of recent visits, the crust on my pizzas was inoffensive but also uninteresting.  There was not enough textural variety or taste intensity to make me want to continue past a second hunger-sating slace.  In short, nothing close to the New Haven coal oven canon of Frank Pepe’s, Sally’s and Modern where pot bellied pie heads order extra rounds of pizza like beerbellied barflies order extra rounds of drinks.

A few pros: Décor is a step up on the ratty old pie houses of Wooster Square and its environs.  Beer and wine by the glass are well selected and not quite punitively priced.  Finally, service at Co. is warm and competent.  The staff skews young and male and sort of looks like a  Midwestern JV football team.  Not quite Danny Meyer land but also a far cry from the surliness of Sally’s.

Conclusions: No reason why this shouldn’t be a local favorite.  No reason why it should be a citywide phenomenon. I’m not saying they need a gimmick like Beau Jo’s Colorado style supercrust for after meal honey dipping—though I’d love to see one here—but something needs to be added to the mix to make Co. a magnet for Metro Area pizza pilgrims.   Next time you want to head on a pie pilgrimage, save your money for Metro North tickets and head north.

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