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Quick & Cozy Bites in NYC -- Dumpling Man & Keste Pizzeria

While walking around the East Village, the weather was pretty fickle. As the rain would pick up, we would simply duck into the nearest boutique or Joe the Art of Coffee to escape. One of the places that we found shelter in was Dumpling Man for a quick and inexpensive late afternoon snack. Dumpling Man serves 11 different kinds of hand-made Chinese dumplings (both savory and sweet) plus a handful of special sauces and other side items like soups and salads. They also offer their dumplings frozen, providing specific instructions for several ways to prepare them at home. It is an “order-at-the-register” type of place, with limited seating along the counter where you can witness the “dumpling men and women” behind the glass cranking out uniformed dumplings at a machine-like speed.

That night, we made an enthusiastic trip to Greenwich Village for casual and authentic pizza at Keste. Upon walking into Keste, you would think that this Pizzeria opened last week instead of last year. It was packed with patrons, and they really know how to pack ‘em in tightly. In fact, the tables are so close together, that in order to sit on one side of the table, the waiter had to slide the table out for one to squeeze past, and the table was then pushed back in. We inadvertently overheard far too much information about the recent breakup in the life of the stranger at the table to the right, but that’s just how it goes when you’re that cozy. We only point this out because it was a notable part of the experience, not as a a criticism (although my neighbor unconsciously divulging her personal life to a complete stranger might disagree) – it added to the experience of a loud, fast paced, everyone’s-a-friend type of Italian environment. Our pizzas were served within 5 minutes of ordering and were excellent. Soft and puffy crust – heavy in tomatoes – rich buffalo mozzarella melted through. Though the outer crust was thick, the bottom layer was too thin to eat this pizza by hand (not impossible, but definitely messy – so we made it a fork and knife endeavor, which is easier for sharing anyway).

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The large brick oven is an essential component of the Keste experience. Authentically constructed by a team of Italians, this oven is kept at around 1000 degrees and can cook the pizzas in about 1 minute (which explains the fast pace and quick turn of the tables around here). It must be true what Keste says: “the unique flavor of brick-oven pizzas is unmatched."

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The pizzas were large and we were still rather full from the afternoon of snacking, so we gladly boxed up a good majority of the leftovers and looked forward to snacking on them over the next day or so. On the walk back to the subway, we popped into Grom for some gelato. Our sweet tooth must have gotten the best of us because we completely got sidetracked from the pizza we were bringing home and left the to-go box at the Grom checkout counter! Guess our memories of the few bites of pizza at Keste will have to tide us over until my next trip to NYC.

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