On my first visit to a pizzeria, some form of sausage pie is a usual benchmarks, but Keste's lengthy roster awakened another temptation; if I liked butternut squash, my waiter counseled, the pizza del papa ($16) was the way to go. Butternut squash cream, to be precise, which lent a gently sweet topnote to a combo rounded out by artichokes, mild red peppers, and smoked mozzarella. The cream also helps bind the other components to the crust in a relatively flat, manageable layer; my neighbor's pie, I observed, was tangled heap of prosciutto and arugula in a circular frame.
A few words about Keste's crusts: Except for the puffy, spottily charred lips, they're not crusty. An examination of the underside of my pie, along that blackened curve, revealed crow's feet, in keeping with a lack of "muscle tone" in the crust. I disdained the knife and fork that Keste lays out at every setting, but even though the pre-cut slices were relatively small, I needed two hands to gather them in.
Keste Pizza & Vino
271 Bleecker St. (at Morton St.)