Though hundreds of thousands are expected for this weekend's jazz fest, the Beach has never been a dining destination. With few exceptions - Tournayre, Antoinete and the Tulip - dinner down by the boardwalk means fried chicken and fries. In a basket. For years, Siena Pizza has been the east side's secret. Centrally located, as its flyer explains, "between Mac's Milk and Overkill," the modest storefront's recent conversion to a lounge (Goodwill couches and a fusbol table) won't draw the fashion crowd away from Blowfish or Sutra. However, the rest of us can enjoy Siena's de rigueur thin crust sauced with sweet hand-crushed tomato, quality toppings and spicing options: minced garlic, paprika, rosemary, fennel seeds, oregano and cayenne.
The NOW Test KitchenTM rates highly the all-veggie Spinoccoli, a riot of chopped spinach, broccoli, tomato, smooth ricotta and lotsa mozza'. Anyone afraid of anchovies and stinky cheese should stay well clear of the Gorgonzola (both $14.63/large), but seafood lovers will dig the Caprese ($15.72), a Mediterranean-inspired pie tossed with peppery capers, sliced briny black olives, mozzarella and escargots (!).
Since when did a 14-inch medium pizza get reclassified as large?
SIENA PIZZA (2128 Queen East, at Hammersmith, 416-694-9777) It's the best pizza in the Beach, but the pies from this cluttered storefront joint are better experienced delivered. Worth the wait: thin, crisp crust, sweet hand-crushed sauce and quality toppings. Fully loaded large 14-inch pizzas for $25 per person, including all taxes and tip. Open Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to midnight. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN