Restaurants Now: Black Iron Burger Shop, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Pilu Kiosk

During the dog days of summer, casual is key. This week, we check out a burger dive in New York City’s East Village; San Francisco’s latest entry into the Neapolitan pizza craze; and a beachside shack (with awesome suckling pig panini) in Sydney.
black iron burger

New York City: Black Iron Burger Shop

New York is full of great neighborhoods but none more fun than the East Village, where walking around the funky streets on a sunny weekend can convince you that college never really ended. The wall-to-wall bars and restaurants are hit or miss, but one new spot, Black Iron Burger Shop, is a jewel in the rough. The place is tiny—a dozen high-top tables with stools—and has sublime burgers, like nothing you’ve tasted before, unless you, too, cook on a $3,000 grill. The signature Black Iron burger is a pair of patties with grilled onions and horseradish-infused Cheddar on a toasted poppy-seed bun and served on a sheet of tin foil. The patty melt comes on rye. Nobody bothers to ask how you want your meat cooked because it’s perfect as is—just brought to medium and greasy in a way that makes “juicy” seem inadequate, soaking up the right amount of flavor into both slices of bread. Onion rings are insane, thick but lightly coated. There are also a few other sandwiches—turkey burger, BLT, a grilled cheese—draft beer (only), and one prized booth, which you can forget about because it’s always full. No reservations, no credit cards, no worries. 540 E. 5th St., New York City (212-677-6067; —William Sertl

San Francisco: Tony’s Pizza Napoletana

The fad for recreating the true pizza of Naples has swept the country, bombarding customers with pies made from finely textured flour, strewn with ingredients manufactured in Italy, and baked in fiercely hot wood-burning ovens. One of the latest additions to the fray is located on a spectacular corner overlooking Washington Square in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. Here, Tony Gemignani strives to recreate a handful of Naples-style pies, including a glove-soft Margherita (“limit 73 per day,” the menu says), made with good cow’s milk mozzarella, fresh basil, pedigreed olive oil, and sea salt. If the pizza has a defect vis-a-vis its old-country inspiration it lies in a slightly thicker crust. No matter—the pie is delicious. In addition to offering seven Neapolitan pizzas, Tony’s hedges its bets by slinging classic American and Sicilian-style pies and strombolis, and the premises double as a certified school for pizzaioli. The pleasing roster of antipasti and salads includes an attractive lardo service that’s nearly unique on either coast, matching neat slices of cured pork fat with honey, walnuts, and toasted ciabatta. 1570 Stockton St., San Francisco (415-835-9888) —Robert Sietsema


The new fried chicken at Momofuku Noodle Bar might have heated up summer in New York, but as winter winds down in Sydney, all eyes are on the Pilu Kiosk and its suckling pig panini. Pilu at Freshwater is the restaurant that Giovanni Pilu runs in a big old timber beach house right on Freshwater, one of the prettiest of the city’s northern beaches. The food of Sardinia, Pilu’s birthplace, is its focus, and between the signature porchetto arrosto and Lara Caraturo’s wonderful wine list, it has risen through the ranks to be recognized as not only one of the most interesting Italian restaurants in the country, but a singular Sydney dining experience. And now, in a manner of speaking, you can have it in a bikini. Pilu has opened a small shack on the edge of the property selling good coffee, Nutella pancakes, and—oh yes—a sandwich filled with slices of slow-roasted suckling pig, all crunchy of skin and buttery of flesh. They don’t offer fiaschette of Cannonau to go with them yet, but here’s hoping. On the beach, Moore Road, Harbord NSW (61-02- 9938-3331; —Pat Nourse

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