Times Square is one of the most famous, and busiest, tourist attractions in New York City. Every New Yorker avoids getting off at the 42nd St-Times Square subway station as we know that large groups of tourists swarm the streets, making it difficult to get from one avenue to the next. Most New Yorkers also avoid Times Square when it comes to dining. This attractive area, contrary to popular belief, isn’t the best place to grab a bite to eat. This is due in part of the massive tourist-driven food chains such as Hard Rock Cafe, Olive Garden, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., all which occupy a large amount of real estate on these busy streets. Convenience in this location affords higher prices for sub-par food. As a tourist, and even more so as a New Yorker, we rarely fall for the trap of dining at a chain restaurant in this area. Venturing out a few blocks can get you much better food with higher quality ingredients, cheaper prices, and a better experience in NY without the hustle and bustle of streets filled excited tourists. This is where Don Antonio comes in.
Don Antonio is an Italian restaurant specializing in a variety of pizza, including gluten-free and vegan. It is the sister-restaurant of Keste Pizza and Vino, also located in NYC, and owned by Roberto Caporuscio, a world renowned Neapolitan pizza chef. Don Antonio is a 10 minute walk away from the centre of Times Square or Columbus Circle. Upon entering this dimly-lit restaurant we were excited to see that for dinner service around 5 pm the restaurant was relatively empty, a rare find near Times Square. That being said, Don Antonio does not take reservations so it could be that we were extra cautious to come early to avoid a longer wait. The restaurant has a casual feel, less romantic than its Keste counterpart, which makes it ideal for large groups and families.
We ordered a classic red Margherita pizza, which was absolutely delicious. The crust was airy and the cheese wasn’t overcooked, as we often find in many pizzas which lose the flavor and consistency of the cheese easily. Next we ordered the diavola pizza that came with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, hot sopressata, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. The pizza itself was delicious. The sopressata was spicy and gave the pizza an extra kick of flavor. Our only critique is that we wished the pizzas had a little more basil leaves as basil, although very subtle, can elevate a regular cheese slice when added judiciously.
We decided to be adventurous and order the vegetarian calzone pizza stuffed with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh ricotta, assorted mushrooms, and pecorino romano. We were surprisingly delighted by this “pizza.” Although it didn’t look like a traditional slice, it tasted like if you were to make a sandwich with two mushroom pizza slices. The filling of the calzone was had just enough mushrooms so that the ricotta cheese didn’t overpower the dish. It did feel like a heavier dish than the lighter two pizzas we ordered, but we decided to unbutton our top pant button for this dish.
We would definitely recommend the extra 10 minute walk from Times Square (or Columbus Circle) for this tasty, and affordable, pizza restaurant. Bear in mind that the pies are thin with four large-cut slices , which may not be enough for two people to share (and you may not want to!). Especially if you’re a tourist, do not fall for the Times Square trap of dining at a chain restaurant. New York is known for the plethora and diversity of restaurants within just a few minutes of walking or using the subway, so take advantage of your time in NYC and experience new restaurants and cuisines if you can!
Overall Rating: 14.5/15
309 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019