On East 56th Street in New York City, just off of the food wasteland that is Park Avenue, sits a hidden little gem that is deserving of attention: Pizza by Certe, a 3-Star Green Restaurant Certified pizzeria opened by Chef Edward Sylvia almost two years ago to this day. When we first we met Mr. Sylvia, or Chef Ed as he is more affectionately known, he already had a successful eatery/catering company under his belt in restaurant Certe (located on E. 55th between 5th & 6th). But, Chef Ed had a dream – the genesis of which was the time he spent as a teen on a farm in Southern Illinois – that dream was to open a sustainable pizzeria that used locally sourced ingredients.
To that end, Chef Ed created Pizza by Certe, the first LEED Gold pizza parlor, with recycled walls, millwork from wheat, and recycled bottle countertops. Chef Ed uses utensils and paper goods that are biodegradable, drinking cups and containers made from resin derived entirely from plants and our 100 percent recycled, multifunctional GreenBox pizza box. And Chef Ed even goes a step further by composting all food waste, making all deliveries by foot or hybrid truck and using rainwater for non-consumption purposes.
And then there's the food... Non-bromated flour. That's step one: Chef Ed sticks with the non-bromated stuff given that potassium bromate has been banned in Europe, Canada and Japan and flagged in California as a suspected carcinogen.
No cans. That's step two: Chef Ed's sauce is made purely from fresh tomatoes.
Fresh cheese. That's step three: Chef Ed uses fresh whole milk mozzarella from local cheese makers, fresh hand-dipped Ricotta, and American grana that he grates fresh for every order.
Fresh toppings. That's step four (and les pieces de resistance): Chef Ed uses toppings sourced locally where possible, as evidenced by the fresh basil he uses from the "green" wall in his restaurant.
A small tasting of Chef Ed's many unique specialty pizza options will make anyone a believer in using fresh, local ingredients: The "Shrooms," covered with roasted wild mushrooms, porcini bechamel and thyme, is pure heaven. The "Buffalo Artichoke," with buffalo roasted artichoke, farmers blue cheese and celery hearts, is outrageous. The "Farmer's Slice," with long island potato, sharp amish cheddar, shaved corn and scallions, is pure brilliance. The "Italian Wedding," topped with juicy, light meatballs; spinach, grana cheese, fresh mozzarella and hot pepper, is divine. We could go on, but you get the picture.
So next time you find yourself in Midtown East and (therefore) in culinary despair, drop into Pizza by Certe. And say hello to Chef Ed from the folks at GreenBoxNY.
Jennifer Wright is the CFO of Ecovention, LLC, a design, licensing and manufacturing firm dedicated to improving outmoded, outdated and wasteful food packaging. Ecovention’s first product, the GreenBox, is a pizza box made from 100% recycled material that breaks into plates and a storage carton.