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When self-proclaimed "pizza master" Michael Ayoub invited us to an evening party of wine and pizza pairings (complete with a mozzarella making demonstration) at the LES's Cronkite Pizzeria, Gothamist knew we had to stop by for a taste. Last night, Ayoub, the chef-owner of Cronkite as well as of Fornino in Williamsburg, catered to a hungry and happy crowd with a selection of antipasti and "3 Generations of Pizza" -- fifteen varieties of artisanal pizzas selected from the more extensive daily menu.

Gothamist savored the crisp thin crusts, abundant and fresh ingredients, and always generous use of truffles, which arrived in at least two ways--on the funghi misti (wild mushrooms caciocavallo, truffle oil) and on the tartufo (black truffle pizza) a delicacy worth even it's usual $35 per pie price. Other favorite pies, like the basic marinara and the Gorgonzola (with mozzarella and caramelized onions) run between $8-14, so only the most indulgent palates will have to pay the price.

Pizzas were paired with a selection of wine and antipasti including memorably fresh mozzarella with roasted eggplant, pesto and tomato. Slices of peppery sopressata and prosciutto lay up for grabs and a simple beet salad satisfied savory-sweet cravings. The wine for the evening, selected by vinophile Michael Green, reflected Cronkite's extensive offerings.

Midway through the evening, bellies full of pizzas and wine, Ayoub shredded cheese curd, melted it with hot water, and showcased a fresh mozzarella-making demonstration, handing out small rounds with fresh sea salt to eager spectators, leaving many in a cheesy, but happy haze.

Gothamist recommends rounding up a group of your pizza-loving friends to try Ayoub's myriad creations--from antipasti to dozens of pizza variations. Great for lunch, dinner, or a late night snack, Cronkite is much more than just another neighborhood pizzeria.

Cronkite Pizzeria is located at 133 Norfolk Street (at Rivington), 212-375-1500.