Since Bez moved to Alphabet City 7 or 8 years ago, I've been slowly getting to know the place she calls home. The last time we went out to eat in her nabe, I was hoping for Back Forty, but they had a 45 minute wait and we were starving, so she, instead, suggested Gruppo for some thin crust. Wise choice, my friend.
I think I can officially say that I prefer thin crust pizza. I'm just not that big a fan of mounds and mounds of, usually tasteless, dough. I'm also a proponent of customization. Gruppo won on both of these tests. The pizza was thin, REALLY thin, and you're allowed to chose one of their combos or pick out your own from an insane list of toppings.
For one pie, we chose the Shroomtown, for the other, we had goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and grilled asparagus.
Both were outstanding; the asparagus gave a little bit of a crunch and played well with the tomatoes and tartness of the goat cheese. The freshness and varieties of the mushrooms came through in the other pie.
For dessert, we consulted the dessert board next to us, and decided upon the brownie a la mode. They did warm up the brownie prior to making the sundae, but the ice cream was a bit frostbitten and icy.
The ambiance in Gruppo definitely adds to the experience there. It's a true, neighborhood pizza place with a working jukebox and a bar with beers on tap; not a wide selection, but any beer is much better from the tap. Gruppo is definitely a stand-up pizza joint, and I plan on returning very, very shortly.
186 Avenue B, between 11th and 12th Street