Naan pizza at A Better Bite

a better bite naan pizza mediterranean

By Deanna Fox

For as long as I can remember (my downtown Albany memory only stretches 11 years back), there has always been an eatery in the One Commerce Plaza building on Washington Avenue, across from the Alfred E. Smith building. But I don't remember anyone going there, or suggesting we stop there when I worked in politics, after a day lobbying at the Capitol.

Even the shiny exterior of the building wasn't enough to draw me inside. The neon-colored sign? Nope, still never went in. It just seemed so non-descript, even as a modern structure placed in the midst of buildings with Grecian columns and centuries-old brick and limestone.

It took me a few years away from that scene -- and a picture on Instagram -- to make me change my stance and give A Better Bite a try.

That photo? Naan pizza.

Pizza tends to be one of those terms that get applied to many things that aren't really a pizza. Cheese, tomato sauce, and maybe meat on a bagel do not a pizza make. (Just ask the Italian government, which is trying get Neapolitan pizza added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.)

But naan pizza -- that is, the classic flatbread of the Indian subcontinent and Middle East with toppings like cheese and tomato sauce -- is pretty close to "true" pizza. Like traditional pizza dough, naan is a leavened bread baked (usually, but not always) on a stone base in an oven at high temperature.

Though what was most appealing to me about the dish was the fact is that was coming from an eatery I had typically overlooked. It made me wonder how good it could possibly be: Is this a place that would offer scratch-made, artful cuisine? Or would it be pulled from a box in the freezer, reheated, and served up as little more than saucy cardboard?

Thankfully the former was true.

a better bite naan pizza cheese and sauce

With some prodding I learned that much of what is served at A Better Bite is sourced from New York City's ethnic markets, and brought north on a frequent, regular basis. The naan is fermented and formed in the city, then baked here. Each naan pizza is made to order.

The classic cheese/tomato combo was a sure hit with me. The blistered crust that comes on both good naan and good pizza -- that slight carbonized taste of burnt flour -- was present, and the cheese stretched itself into silken strands with each bite, but gave way and lost its elasticity after just a few inches. The sauce was slightly sweet and not tinny, with subtle hints of oregano.

a better bite naan pizza mediterranean closeup

I also tried to Mediterranean version, which featured house marinated vegetables (mushroom, eggplant, roasted peppers) with fresh mozzarella and pesto. It sounded pretty boilerplate, likely something you could get as a wrap in most sandwich shops. But here, the ingredients were fresh, flavorful, and thoughtfully combined. It immediately became one of my favorite things to eat in Albany, and I cannot wait to eat it again.

The menu doesn't yet reflect that naan pizza is available, but do not hesitate to ask for it. They are making it, and new menus will be released soon.

Grabbing lunch or breakfast here during the week shouldn't be the only time you try A Better Bite. On the weekends, it serves brunch with full table service. Brunch in Albany can be hard to find - here, not only is there an extensive menu to choose from, there is plenty of seating, both inside and out under a shady awning.

My original thoughts on A Better Bite's location seem to still permeate the collective consciousness of eaters who frequent that area. While I sat and enjoyed my pizza and people-watched from the windows, I noticed that most of the people breezed by with coffee cups and bakery bags from a certain chain "donut" shop with many locations throughout downtown Albany.

What a shame. Genuine donuts made of real food can be found just a few blocks away at Cider Belly. And big, scrumptious breakfast sandwiches, steaming from their own heat in foil wrappers, and coffee without that bitter burnt taste can be had for a better value at A Better Bite.

If only people would venture inside.

Deanna Fox writes about many things, mostly about food. More can be found on her website, Twitter, or Instagram.

More Eat This:
+ Frozen yogurt at Ayelada
+ Falafel and shawarma at Saati Deli and Catering
+ Fish tacos at Ted's Fish Fry
+ Ravioli from Ragonese Imports

Find It

A Better Bite
99 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12210


"The blistered crust that comes on both good naan and good pizza -- that slight carbonized taste of burnt flour -- was present, and the cheese stretched itself into silken strands with each bite, but gave way and lost its elasticity after just a few inches. The sauce was slightly sweet and not tinny, with subtle hints of oregano."

What a wonderful description! You've described with such aptitude *exactly* what is so great about a truly great pizza (and exactly what is absent in a truly mediocre pizza). I, for one, will be venturing inside A Better Bite as soon as possible (and also for the first time)!

The people are always very nice at A Better Bite.

You can get an omelette and home fries for a very reasonable price.

The sandwiches and many options on the menu are all great.

They make fresh juices.

I'm a fan and didn't even know about the pizza.

Make pizza on a grill or by heating a stone for an hr or two in the oven at 500 degrees (and, definitely, make the friggin' dough yourself!) You'll have an authentic tasting pizza just like that.

I really miss the old Bagel Bite on Delaware.....nothing seems to have stayed in that spot (Avenue A, Wine N' Diner, Mingle) for long ever since they closed shop. I still dream of their pickles.

So happy to hear all the positive feedback! Maybe I'll bump into you there. Happy eating!

How much $ will I need to trade for one of these pizzas?

@spencer About 10 bones. (The Mediterranean, I believe, runs $11, and it's completely, completely worth every bite.)

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Talking about the Veggie Mobile on its 10th anniversary

Capital Roots is celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Veggie Mobile -- it's rolling green market on a truck -- with a party called The... (more)

The beautiful State Education Building will be open for regular public tours

The State Education Building will be open for public tours on the second Saturday of each month starting in August, the state Education Department has... (more)

Melancholy, arriving on track 2

Check out this photo of the old Union Station waiting room in downtown Albany, via the Albany Group Archive. It's dated to 1968, which... (more)

Colonial ice cream day at Crailo

This could be interesting (and delicious): The Crailo State Historic Site is hosting a "Colonial Ice Cream Discovery Day" August 12. Blurbage: [D]iscover how colonists... (more)

Where to get a hybrid or electric car serviced?

Mark emails: I've been on the hunt for a mechanic that specializes/is-well-versed in electric/hybrid cars, but have failed to bag anything. I have taken my... (more)

Recent Comments

I still don't know why it has to look like a spaceship. There are countless downtown theaters that fit in aesthetically with their surroundings. I was just in Arlington, Massachusetts and they have a six screen theater in a building fronted with a bakery, a toy store, a salon... Thinking that theaters can only look like suburban malls shows either a lack of imagination or a lack of awareness.

Melancholy, arriving on track 2

...has 2 comments, most recently from Elisabeth

Experiences with Uber and Lyft so far?

...has 19 comments, most recently from Amy

Where to get a hybrid or electric car serviced?

...has 3 comments, most recently from chezjake

The week ahead

...has 1 comment, most recently from Amy Koren-Roth

One critique of the proposed 1 Monument Square design, raised up one level

...has 9 comments, most recently from J