Thanks to Adam "Slice" Kuban I’ve known for years where to snag wonderful coal-fired oven pizza in Astoria: Sac’s Place. But until very recently I've never known where to get Alsatian pizza in Astoria. Until a friend took me to Restaurant 718, I has no idea such a thing existed. As you might guess they don’t call it pizza, but rather tarte flambée, also known as flammekueche. Amateur linguists will note that the name means something along the lines of "baked in flames." It is said to derive from Alsatian farmers who baked bread and would fire up a tarte flambée as way to test the heat of their wood-burning ovens.
Five varieties of tarte flambée are offered, including a vegetable version and one that sports tuna, tomato confit, wasabi, and onions. I took the traditional route and ordered the "classic" ($10). It arrived at the table on a small wooden pizza peel. The crackly crust was coated with a thin layer of sour cream and showered with bacon and onions. It's probably the only time I’ve ever enjoyed bacon on a pizza.
Check out this Alsatian tarte upskirt. I’m not sure if chef Raphaël Sutter is descended from Alsatian farmers, but it certainly looks like his oven was hot enough.
For dessert, yet another tarte, but of the sweet variety. The warm apple tarte ($7) no doubt owes something to the time Sutter spent as pastry chef at La Côte Basque . Concealed under that jaunty dehydrated apple chapeau was a blob of vanilla ice cream.
One of the owners tells me that in Alsace there are many all-you-can-eat tarte flambée joints. I almost asked whether the IFOCE had any members living in Alsace. I mean, the crust is thin, but not that thin.
718's Tartes Flambée [Slice, 7/12/2005]
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