#98 L&B Spumoni Gardens

June 22, 2017

Brooklyn, NY

Last week we hit the last stop in NYC from the 2016 Daily Meal list, L&B Spumoni Gardens. We had been putting a visit here off because 1.) it was the last place on the list in New York and 2.) it is ALL the way out into Brooklyn and not the easiest or shortest subway ride.

The pizza here is different than other slices of pizza in NYC. Sure, they have regular “round” slices, and we tried a couple of those. But that isn’t why you come here. You come for the “square”. And maybe also for the ice cream.

For these squares, the sauce goes on top of the cheese. The crust is thick like a Sicilian should be, and has a nice crunch to the edges and the bottom. We got lucky and they were just taking a new tray of slices out of the oven when we walked up, so ours were piping hot and delicious.

 

The regular slices were also good. We wouldn’t rave about them, but if a Sicilian slice isn’t your thing, you won’t go wrong by ordering a regular cheese slice here. The “round” slices were a bit smaller than a slice from a generic NY slice shop and they were on the thinner side, but had a good sauce:cheese ratio.

You probably know by now that we love a good, saucy pizza slice, and that is exactly what L&B gave us. We would rank this one higher than #98, but we are glad that it made it on to the 2016 list because it is known as a NYC classic. You really should hike all the way out on the N to Bensonhurst to try it. Although, if you are heading all the way out in that direction, you may as well go one stop further to hit Totonno’s in Coney Island. But then you should stop back here for ice cream on your way home, because the creamsicle soft serve is awesome!

This is very close to being our favorite square slice, but we think that Miccuci’s Grocery in Portland, ME still is in the lead for that one.

PS: Does everyone else know what a “spumoni” is? We didn’t, so we googled it. They also serve spumoni here (in case you couldn’t tell by the name). We’ll have to check that out next time.

To visit:

L&B Spumoni Gardens
2725 86th St
Brooklyn, NY 11223

Six of our favorite NYC pizzas NOT on the list

As we’ve been tackling the Daily Meal list, we’ve been accumulating a list on the side of other NYC pizza places that have gotten good reviews, either from other “Top NYC Pizza” lists around the internet, or personal recommendations from friends and family. Currently, our “other list” has about 20 pizzerias around NYC that we still would like to hit, but here I’ll highlight a couple that we’ve been to in the past year that we feel could be on any list.

  1. Franny’s

Franny’s is out in Brooklyn, and we ended up going there one night when we had plans to head down to J&V Pizzeria. If you remember my previous post, we got frustrated with various subway delays and got off earlier in Brooklyn, not too far from Franny’s. Franny’s has gotten a lot of press since it opened in 2013, and is found on most “Best Of” NYC pizza lists that we’ve seen. We split two pizzas here, one Margherita and one white pie with garlic and hot peppers. Both were good, and we would have also tried an appetizer if everything wasn’t priced so high. Also, you get to cut your pizza here with scissors. They really make you work for your dinner.

To visit:

Franny’s
348 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11238

 

2. Sottocasa

Sottocasa is also in Brooklyn, although they also have a location in Harlem. We first heard about it when we went to that pizza discussion night at the Brooklyn Brainery, where the owner of Sottocasa, Luca Arrigoni, told us all about his adventures starting the Neapolitan pizzeria, including a fascinating story of how they dropped the oven in to the backyard of the restaurant using a crane originally going to be used to lift an airplane at JFK, after flying it over from Naples (the things you must do for TRUE Neapolitan pizza!). They couldn’t get it through the door. Here, we also split two pies, one Burrata and the Parmigiana, which had tomatoes, eggplant, and spicy sausage. They were both awesome. If you are huge Burrata fans (like we are), you should know they only serve that pie from Friday-Sunday, so plan accordingly. Also, this is a great date-night spot.

To visit:

Sottocasa
298 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201

3. Juliana’s

Juliana’s is the third Brooklyn pizzeria we are going to mention here, and then I’ll move on to Manhattan. If you’ve ever been to Grimaldi’s, you may have noticed a second pizzeria right next door. Well, that one is Juliana’s  and if you don’t feel like waiting in line at Grimaldi’s, the pizza here is also very good (although I can’t guarantee that there won’t also be a line here). Juliana’s is named after Patsy Grimaldi’s mother, and it is a less-touristy version of Grimaldi’s. It has actually been listed as the best slice in NY before as well, but not by the Daily Meal. We went with a traditional pie here, which certainly could have been on any “Best pizza” lists.

To visit:

Juliana’s
19 Old Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

4. Marta

Moving on to a few good pizzas in Manhattan, we went up to Marta one evening after work.  This was another pizzeria that has gotten a lot of good press. It was a little difficult to find, because it is actually in the lobby of an old hotel, but the actual restaurant was very spacious. It also looked like it had a nice bar, although it wasn’t too crowded when we were there because we went a bit on the earlier side for dinner. This isn’t traditional NY-style pizza. Instead, the pizzas are very thin crust. We got the Mercato and the Carciofi, which had artichokes and garlic bread crumbs. If you like thin crust pizza, you should check this place out. And we also highly recommend the butternut fries to start.

  

To visit:

Marta
29 E. 29th Street
New York, NY 10016

5. Patrizia’s

Patrizia’s is famous on instagram for their star shaped “Stella” pies. We admit it, we went purely for the photo. But we’d go back again for the pizza, because it was really good. They have other locations in Brooklyn and around NYC, but we went to the location right in Manhattan. We got my sister to join us for pizzas (and wine), so we ordered a Margherita, one with a bunch of veggies, and Eric got one of the sausage pizzas. They were all very tasty. We were too full to eat a dessert pizza there, so they kindly made us two Nutella pizzas to go. We reheated one when we got home in the oven, and it satisfied our chocolate craving for sure.

 

To visit:

Patrizia’s of Manhattan
462 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10016

 

6. Bleecker Street Pizza

Finally, we want to mention one of our go-to slices places, Bleecker Street Pizza. We like these slices almost as much as Williamsburg Pizza, and Bleecker is ever closer to our office. It is actually right near Joe’s, and in our opinion, the slices are even better here. It is slightly different than your traditional NY slice because it has a thinner crust, but they always have a decent selection of pies to choose from for a quick lunch break. It’s tight inside, but if you go when it is nice out they also have a few small tables out front. When we just went back there for lunch, we grabbed a fresh cheese slice right from the oven, a buffalo chicken slice for  Eric, and two slices of the almost-Sicilian, the Nona Maria, which is our new favorite slice here. If you are wandering around Bleecker street, we’d recommend stopping here AND at Joe’s, just for the comparison.

To visit:

Bleecker Street Pizza
69 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014

Let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites!

#63 Williamsburg Pizza

September 14th, 2016 and April 3rd, 2017

New York City

This is a new addition to the 2016 list, and we’ve already been here twice. Williamsburg Pizza has three locations, two in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan, and we’ve been to two of them.

      

The first time we went out to Brooklyn. We figured we should try the original location, since it is called Williamsburg Pizza. Once again, we walked there from Manhattan, and once again, we got caught in a downpour. I think I mentioned that this happens to us fairly regularly on our pizza treks. By the time we got to the pizzeria, we were drenched. And hungry.

We ordered a wide variety of slices because the selection here is amazing. We tried a regular slice of the Brooklyn and one called a Sophia Loren, which had fresh mozzarella and sliced tomatoes and basil. We also had a few Grandma slices, including one with kale and sausage (the Kale Tallegio), one with sausage, mushrooms, roasted red peppers (Paesano), and one with wild mushrooms (Tartufo).

   

This past Monday, we went to the Lower East Side location, which was a much shorter walk from our office. Both locations have the same feel to them, and both had the same great variety of slices. Here, we got another slice of the Brooklyn. We also had a margherita slice, and again tried the Tartufo and Paesano Grandma slices. We forgot to check what we got last time and ended up with almost the same exact order.

The Tartufo slice here is really good. We think it’s our second favorite mushroom slice, right after the pizza we had at Antico in Atlanta, and right before the one we had at Pizza Moto in Brooklyn. I think the Sophia Loren slice would be our next favorite, but they didn’t have that one at the LES location this time around.

We’ve found our new favorite slices place in NYC. (Sorry, Bleecker Street Pizza.) At only a 20 minute walk, it is a perfect lunch date location. The slices are everything you’d expect from a New York slice, with fresh cheese, interesting toppings, and sort-of-sweet tomato sauce, with a crispy crust. We have yet to try a slice here that we don’t like.

To visit:

Williamsburg Pizza
265 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

OR

277 Broome St
New York, NY 10002

 

#2 Di Fara

March 2nd, 2016

Brooklyn, NYC

I don’t even know where to start talking about the pizza at Di Fara. I guess I’ll start by saying that this pizza deserves its #2 ranking. There is a reason why the lines can be 2 hours long to get a couple of slices.

We went out to Brooklyn early to get there right when they opened for dinner. We had heard some horror stories about how long the lines could get. We were pleasantly surprised, though, because there was no one there, which was probably a combination of a) it was a weeknight, b) it was raining, and c) it was early March. We walked in when they opened, ordered our pizza, and then sat at one of the tables in the back to wait for it. About 15 minutes later, we had this amazing pie sitting in front of us. We ate the whole thing.

 

 

 

Di Fara was opened back in 1964, and is still run by the original owners. Each pizza is still made by Domencio DeMarco, who is now quite old, and many of his family members work at the pizzeria as well. When he isn’t available, they close the pizzeria. The place only has seating for about 15 people (which contributes to the long lines). It has consistently been ranked on the best NYC pizza lists for years.

 
The pizza is incredibly fresh and had the perfect ratio of sauce:cheese. The cheese is a blend of mozzarella and cow’s milk cheeses, all imported from Italy. It is such a great combination of cheeses, probably bettered only by Pizzeria Beddia in Philly. They grow the basil in house, and DeMarco personally cuts it with scissors over the entire pie.

The pizzas are not cheap. Di Fara raised it’s prices for a slice to $5.00/slice in 2009, which made it the most expensive slice in NYC. This one large, plain, pie cost us $30.

Would we head all the way out to Avenue J for this pizza again? Yes. Would we pay $30 for one pizza again? Only if it’s Di Fara’s. And if anyone wanted to join us, don’t count on us sharing our pizza. WIth any luck, the next time we go it will also be early March and slightly rainy, so we can skip the lines again.

 

To visit:

Di Fara Pizza
1424 Avenue J
Brooklyn, NY 11230

 

#81 J&V Pizzeria

March 8th, 2017

Brooklyn, NY

We tried to go out to J&V Pizzeria last week, but we ended up getting stuck on the N for a while, and ended up just getting off earlier and heading to Franny’s instead. We were hungry. This week, we tried again, taking a different combination of subways and walking to get down to Bensonhurst (south Brooklyn). It took us about an hour from our office, with Eric only taking us on a few minor detours. I did suggest that we walk there and avoid the subways altogether – but Eric wasn’t in the mood for a 3 hour walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J&V is a new addition to the 2016 list, and it is always exciting to venture to a new area of the city that we haven’t been to before. Of course, we had to get the biggest variety of slices that we could, so we went with two veggie slices, one cheese, one Sicilian, and one chicken slice.

I thought that the cheese slice was the best, mainly because the sauce was so fresh and tomato-y. Eric would probably agree with me, but I didn’t let him have a bite. So he said that his favorite was the chicken. The other slices were also decent, but nothing we’d trek out to Brooklyn for. But that cheese slice, well, I’m still thinking about it.

Eric was also fascinated by the rotating metal pizza oven they had. After some searching around, I’ve determined that it’s one of these. Eric, should we add one to our kitchen?

    

On the way home, we got interviewed for the local news! Not about pizza, about traffic and speeding in Brooklyn. Eric made me do all the talking. It only aired in Brooklyn, though, sorry everyone!

To visit:

J & V Pizzeria
6322 18th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11204

#3 Roberta’s

February 10th, 2016

Brooklyn, NYC

If you ask anyone around NYC for their favorite pizza, Roberta’s always makes the list. That’s why we weren’t surprised to see it at #3 on the list by the Daily Meal. We had a gift card, so we were really excited to go and not have to spend more money on pizza, since it was our second pizza stop of the week. We were really pleased by how affordable this pizza is, considering the prices of other similar pizzerias in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

 

Roberta’s is very “Brooklyn”, in food and atmosphere. The restaurant is located in Bushwick, in the middle of a bunch of old warehouses. It is a decently long walk from the subway, and at first we were sure that we were heading in the wrong direction. Although it started out as a small restaurant with a small outdoor seating area, it has expanded drastically in recent years and now encompasses almost an entire block. It has a rooftop garden, an event space, an outdoor seating area complete with a tiki bar, and a bakery. It plays rock music and you sit at wooden tables or at the bar. There are no tablecloths and the seats are not comfortable. Also in true Brooklyn fashion, it tries to do everything in house (like growing their own ingredients for their menu items) and it has a total hipster vibe.

The pizza is great. Apparently, the other food on the menu is equally as good, and whatever is on special usually gets rave reviews. But we just ordered pizza because that is what we do, and we weren’t disappointed.

The crust is chewy and the cheese is fresh, but it is the flavor combinations that really put Roberta’s on the map. One of the most famous around NYC is the Bee Sting, which has soppressata and honey (spicy and sweet), which ranked near the top of the best pizza combinations in NYC. We didn’t get that one, though, and instead went with a traditional Margherita and one called the Li’l Stinker, which was topped with various cheeses, lots of garlic, onion, and pepperoncini peppers.

In case you don’t feel like waiting for a couple of hours for a seat here (especially if you come on a weekend night), you can get Roberta’s pizzas frozen from various stores around NYC. These frozen pies are baked in the wood-fired oven, and then blast-chilled. We can’t vouch for how good these are, or how similar they are to the fresh pies, but according to others, it tastes like you brought a pizza home from Roberta’s and heated it up in the oven the following day. So that’s pretty much what we’d expect.

We both ranked Roberta’s at #11 on our personal lists. We didn’t think it was quite good enough for top 10. Although, we have it currently marked as a place we’d like to go back to, preferably over the summer when we can sit outside and enjoy the Tiki bar with our pizza.

To visit:

Roberta’s
261 Moore Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206

#77 Pizza Moto

January 6th, 2016

Brooklyn, NY

Our first pizza of 2016 was at Pizza Moto, which is also tucked away in Brooklyn. Pizza Moto also serves Neapolitan-style pies in a back corner of Brooklyn, but they actually started serving pizzas from a food truck. After 8 years of serving from their mobile ovens, the owners and founders of Pizza Moto unearthed a hidden coal oven in this Brooklyn location where they are now based. The oven was originally for a bakery sometime in the mid-1800s, but had since been covered over and the storefront was previously operated by Papa John’s (among a few other owners).

The owners of Pizza Moto restored the oven to its original glory, but outfitted it as a wood burning oven instead of the traditional coal. We heard the story of the oven while attending a class on the NYC pizza scene (yes, we know we are super cool) that was hosted by the Brooklyn Brainery.

We also learned some other cool facts about Pizza Moto, including that they use mostly local and seasonal ingredients, and that their sourdough starter was started by yeast that was already naturally occurring in the restaurant (leftover from the original days as a bakery). The combination of the crust with its unique flavor and the fresh, seasonal toppings really made these pizzas stand out.

We tried two pies here. The first was a standard Margherita, as usual. The second was this mushroom and cheese white pie that you see in the picture above. We both agreed that the flavors of the cheeses on this pizza were some of the best we’ve tried. Actually, we still compare white mushroom pies to this one, even a year later. The pizzas are slightly larger than a traditional Neapolitan, which we appreciated.

      

If you try to get to Pizza Moto (and you should), don’t be worried that you are walking in the wrong direction. It really seems to be in the middle of nowhere. But the atmosphere inside is very farm-to-table (like the rest of Brooklyn) and we’d go back for these pizzas any day.

Pizza Moto was ranked in at #77 on the 2015 list from the Daily Meal, which we thought was probably because it was a newer establishment. We were surprised to find that it wasn’t listed at all in 2016, although we ranked it very high (#15 for Barb and #10 for Eric). You should definitely keep this one on your personal list (and Eric, we need to go back there!)

To visit:

Pizza Moto
338 Hamilton Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11231

#19 Motorino

December 30th, 2015

New York City, NY

One of the great things that came from telling everyone we knew about our pizza goals was that we ended up with a few gift cards for various restaurants for the holidays! One pizzeria that we kept hearing about in NYC was Motorino. We didn’t waste any time in heading to their East Village location one cold night last December.

      

Like most Neapolitan pies, Motorino’s pies are all about the crust. It was perfectly chewy, and so light to eat. The toppings weren’t bad either. We ended up with the famous brussels sprout pie with smoked pancetta and a traditional margherita pie. Yes, we know brussels sprouts are so trendy, but we really love them, and we had to see what all the fuss was about.

The original Motorino is still located in Williamsburg, but we were too tempted by the much closer location in the East Village. There’s also a shop on the Upper West Side, as well as in Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, and Malaysia, if you find yourself traveling to those locations and need a pizza fix. Also a plus – they deliver!

We didn’t have any problems getting a table here right after work, although it was pretty busy by the time we left. They also have a nice wine list, and the East Village location has a cozy, café feel. I hear the Williamsburg location is a bit bigger and has a more traditional pizzeria feel to it.

And if you are looking for dessert afterwards, we’d recommend walking a block south for ice cream, or a block west for a cake or cookie treat. You may not know this (because we figure that you are tired of hearing us talk about pizza and don’t want to bore you even more), but we also have a running list of ice cream places to hit in the city.

 

 

To visit:

Motorino
349 E 12th Street
New York, NY 10003

#29 Speedy Romeo

December 28th, 2016

Brooklyn, NY

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!

We ended our 2016 with one last pizza stop from the 2016 list, Speedy Romeo. The city was so quiet this week, so we took advantage of the easy commuting and made our way over to Brooklyn after work. It was such a nice walk over from the office in SoHo across the Manhattan Bridge, although it was kind of a long walk (about 1.5 hours). Eric didn’t feel like walking, so he took the subway and just met me there 🙂

Speedy Romeo is on most of the “Best NY Pizzas” lists that we see circulating (like this one) but it didn’t make the 2015 list for some reason. The Daily Meal made up for that by ranking it pretty high on this years’. What makes Speedy Romeo unique and not just “another Brooklyn pizza place” is that they cook EVERYTHING over a wood flame. Not just the pizzas, but also the rest of the menu, including ribs, steaks, and wings. We didn’t get to try any of those (we were obviously there for the pizza) but we have read some rave reviews.

The pizzas certainly did not disappoint. Most of the pies are made with Provel cheese, which is very traditional for St. Louis-style pizza. Eric (and the Daily Meal) kept calling it “provolone” and needed to be reminded that they are not the same. We ended up with a Margherita and a pizza called the Kind Brother, which was a white pie topped with wild mushrooms, an egg, smoked mozzarella, and finished with a good sized handful of fresh sage.

We really liked these pies, but the mushroom and sage are both very strong on the Kind Brother. We’d recommend that you only order this one if you really like those flavors. The margherita pie had the perfect sauce-to-cheese ratio and the crust held up really well and was light and doughy. We also liked the pickled peppers that they give you on the side.

By this time, we have to conclude that Brooklyn makes some pretty awesome Neapolitan-style pies. We’d rank Speedy Romeo slightly above Motorino but we didn’t think that it is as good as Roberta’s or Pizza Moto. The location is great, though. It’s not too far from Emily, and its a bit more spacious inside, so it would be a great second choice if there is too much of a wait for the Emmy Burger.

Eric was very happy that I didn’t make him walk back to Manhattan afterwards.

To visit:

Speedy Romeo
376 Classon Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238

#42 Emily

February 5th & December 14th, 2016

Brooklyn, NY

Last night, we had the chance to go back to Emily in Brooklyn. This was our second time there, if you don’t count our trip a couple of weeks ago to Margot’s. The first time was back in February of last year, and we brought two of our friends, Shelly and Mike, who live right around the corner from Emily (and somehow had never been there!)

Emily is a small restaurant in Clinton Hill, and you will likely always have at least a half hour wait, unless you show up at opening (5:30 pm). While we usually are the first ones to show up for pizza, these two dinners were on the later side, and so we had about 45 minutes to an hour of waiting before we were seated. Luckily, there is a bar right next door that we discovered called Hanson Dry. (Actually, we didn’t even know that was the name of the bar until recently, because we just noticed the big sign out front that says “BAR”.) In any case, it has a great happy hour.

**side note: If you want one of their burgers, not their pizza, you better show up at opening time, even on a weekday night! They were sold out by 7pm, when we got there.

On our first trip back in February, we were lucky enough to get to try a special Emily Burger pizza, as well as one of the Lady Pizza Girl with ricotta, havarti, mushrooms, and chili peppers, and also a Modern, which was topped with onion, basil, and Szechuan oil (it was hot and spicy – be prepared!). Since we didn’t get to try the equally famous Emmy Burger (only a limited number are made each night), the Burger pizza was the next best thing. We hope they bring that special back again.

 

On our second trip, we got to try four other pies. We brought Margaret and Scott, so there was plenty to go around. The Luca is like a margherita, but with burrata instead of mozzarella. Anything with burrata catches our eye, and it didn’t disappoint. We also ordered a William with onion and basil and garlic (sorry, we left off the olives!), a Colony, which is hot and spicy with pepperoni, pickled chili, and honey, and ended with one of the Camp Randall, which has cheddar curds, sausage, mushroom, and peppers. I don’t think that we had one complaint, and we all left very full. (Oh, and we also tried the special poutine appetizer, not to mention drinks.)

The crust on these is thinner than a regular Neapolitan pizza, which was fine with us. The pizzas this trip seemed a little thinner than we remembered them being in February. They also were a little more charred. What makes these pizzas stand out from the rest of the pizzas on the Daily Meal’s list is the variety of seasonal toppings. We probably would eat any and all of the pizzas on the menu, and we’ll have to come back a few times to actually do that. It is why Emily ranked so high on our own personal lists.

Even though it was a little cold last night on our walk over to Brooklyn from Manhattan, we ended up being glad that we worked up an appetite and were able to finish all of these pies. If anyone else in Brooklyn wants to go to Emily in the near future, let us know!

To visit:

Emily
919 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11238