I had a couple of cousins visiting New York from their home outside of Nashville a couple weeks ago. They were staying in Hell's Kitchen, which used to be a tough location for great food recommendations, particularly pizza—most of the offerings around there are in the One Dollar Slice category, a style best avoided by those who aren't drunk, desperate, broke, or capable of getting themselves to a Gray's Papaya for a hot dog.
I say used to because these days, the answer for good eats and good pizza is easy: Don Antonio, run by Kesté frontman Roberto Caporuscio and named after his mentor, the Naples-based pizzaiolo Antonio Starita. (Check out more on Starita in The Serious East Guide to Eating Pizza in Naples.) It's not just the best pizzeria in the neighborhood, it's one of the best pizzerias in the city, period.
Up until a few days ago I had no idea that they serve sandwiches for lunch, but they do. Five of them under their panini section, ranging from $9 to $10. Sandwich is a bit of a misnomer, however. Sure, there's bread and stuff in between it so it technically qualifies, but the bread starts out as raw dough wrapped free-form around fillings that then get baked in their wood burning oven.
After charring, the sandwich is retrieved and brushed with a bit of olive oil. The result is something between a traditional sandwich and a sloppy, free-form calzone. These things are huge, by the way. The dough circle starts out the size of one of their normal pizzas, and there's probably twice as much stuffing in each one as on a normal pizza.
I had the Ponza ($10), filled with zucchini, marinated artichokes, roasted eggplant, a ton of their excellent house-made fior di latte, Pecorino Romano, and olive oil. Meatier versions are also available for around the same price. Bring a friend to share with or plan on bringing some home because these things are serious.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.