Cronkite Pizzeria and Wine Bar
UPDATE: Closed as of July 15, 2007. Good prediction below, no? Sheesh.
Down one flight of stairs below Norfolk Street, just north of Rivington, there's a lovely, spanking-new dining room serving a few salads, an antipasto or two, and lots and lots of varieties of brick-oven pizzas.
Cronkite Pizzeria and Wine Bar just opened last week (I could still smell the fresh paint when I went on Wednesday evening), and it's one of those places that just feels like it's going to be a hit: the decor is warm and pretty (though I imagine it can get quite loud.. especially with the huge wine list), the atmosphere friendly, the pizzaiolo pedigreed (Michael Ayoub, from Williamsburg's Fornino) and the food is reasonably-priced, perfect for larger parties, and seemingly prepared with plenty of attention and love.
My meal was great. I started with a wonderful appetizer of tender prosciutto wrapped around a soft, bubbling-hot square of fontina cheese, topped with a pile of some sort of nicely bitter shoots (the menu said Arugula, but I'm not so sure), and finished with an exactly-right hit of lemon. Truly delicious. For my pizza I got the Romana, which comes with Mozzarella, Ricotta, Anchovies, Capers and Olives. Beyond the obvious taste sensations of "rich" and "fish" and "salty" (all of which which I enjoyed very much), I'll also say that the crust was crisp and flavorful; the tomato sauce tasted like tomatoes... not too sweet, not too garlicky; and though I thought it was maybe just a tad too cheesy, I also may have been a tad cheesed-out after my starter. All in all, a totally welcome addition to your Lower East Side eating options.