If you happen to drive by the former Copperbox space, you'll notice it has windows. And it's no longer copper, but rather white. That's because Proof Pizza & Pasta opened quietly last Friday.
The Neapolitan-style pizza joint comes to Midtown from Justin Flit, whose prior experience includes Daniel Boulud's DBGB in New York City and, most recently, Bourbon Steak, where he was executive sous chef.
A family affair, Flit is joined by his parents as sole owners, while his good friend Matt DePante will act as chef de cuisine. The two met in NYC while DePante was working in Gramercy Tavern before moving down to Miami to work at the Dutch.
Together, they've developed a small-focused menu with an emphasis on locally sourced products wherever possible.
Everything is made from scratch in house, including the fresh pizza dough, which is tossed into a 900-degree oven for 90 seconds (the amount of time it appropriately takes to cook Neapolitan dough). "Because Neapolitan pizza has such strict guidelines, ours is Neapolitan style." That means that the dough is grade 00 -- the highest quality you can use. Instead of using San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella from Campania (both of which you need to be branded Neapolitan), Proof is going the local route.
The same is the case for the beer, which is all craft and includes Cigar City, Due South, and Funky Buddha. The wine list, designed by Bourbon Steak's sommelier and friend of Flit, pays homage to Italy and Napa Valley.
Casual neighborhood restaurant seems fitting
Currently, Proof is only open for dinner. But there are plans for brunch in a few weeks (putting their terrace to good use) and perhaps lunch some time after that.
As far as foodstuff, dishes will change seasonally with a special every week. Appetizers include lamb ribs with mint salsa verde and black garlic, as well as arancini with squid ink aioli and lemon. Five pizzas range in toppings from oxtail, mozzarella, black garlic, thyme, and caramelized onions to your classic margherita with basil, mozzarella, tomatoes and olive oil. There's also pasta, as hinted by the name. Think butternut squash agnolotti in brown butter with sage and amaretti or angel hair with crab, calabrian chili and lemon bread crumbs. Prices are fair, with nothing exceeding $20, except the weekly special. "That will be the only thing to ever be priced between $25 and $30," says Flit. "We want people to taste from all over the menu and order a bunch of stuff, so we made all the food very affordable."
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"We're aiming to be the neighborhood's casual but delicious restaurant."
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha.