#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

#86 Margot’s and #1 Frank Pepe’s

November 12th and 13th, 2016

Brooklyn and New Haven

So, if you follow our Instagram, you may have seen that our pizza quest for the year has been accomplished! We spent this weekend eating lots of pizza and celebrating with family and friends. This is going to be a long post, so bear with us.

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Back when we started this journey at the beginning of 2016, we were only really worried about making it to one of the pizza places on the list, which was Margot’s. Margot’s is a popup that operates out of Emily in Brooklyn, on one Saturday per month. And tickets are very difficult to get. So difficult, in fact, that we tried for three months to get tickets without any luck (they sell out in less than a second). Then, they stopped doing the popup. As the months went on with no news of a popup again, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we probably would have to cross it off the list without ever making it there.

 

UNTIL last weekend, when we got an email from Margot’s announcing another popup in November. We BOTH were on computers to get tickets when they went on sale at 4 pm. I didn’t make it through, but Eric did! We managed to book two tickets, ensuring that we would ACTUALLY make it to all 101 this year.

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On Saturday, we drove into Brooklyn and went in to Emily (and actually met THE Emily!) We were not used to seeing the restaurant so empty! We haven’t posted on Emily yet, but it is usually packed for dinner with lines out the door. We had placed our pizza orders online when we bought the tickets, and we had opted for the Margot-rita and the Collaboroni (jalapeño and pepperoni). All of the pizzas at Margot’s are “bar-style”, which means super thin and crispy. The toppings of the Collaboroni reminded us most of the pizza at Emily and EmmySquared (not surprisingly), but the only other pizza we’ve had that was similar was at Colony Grill in Stamford.

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All in all, it was worth trying to get tickets and tasting Adam Kuban’s pies. We will probably never be able to get tickets again, but we were glad the fourth time was the charm!

After our lunch, we headed to New Haven for our finale pizza party at Frank Pepe’s, which was on Sunday afternoon. Having spent 5 years in New Haven, Pepe’s was always our go-to pizza place. We knew the best times to go to beat the lines, and we constantly ordered too much food just so we would have leftovers to take home and eat for the rest of the week. We were thrilled that so many of our family members were able to make the trip from all over the East coast to party with us on Sunday.

We rented out The Spot, which is the second building of Pepe’s on Wooster Street.  This is actually the original Pepe’s location, started in 1925. The main location moved to the larger building in 1937, and the Spot became a second establishment in the 1970’s. There are always lines out the door for the regular restaurant, but hardly any for The Spot, which is located a bit farther off the road, although it serves the same exact pizza.img-20161113-wa0001

The staff brought out pizza after pizza, including our favorites, the plain tomato pie and the veggie special, the famous white clam, some four cheese, and a new one (to us, anyways) that had spinach, mushroom, and gorgonzola. We also had a few meat pies, like the chicken and roasted red pepper, and the sausage, which was also a hit with the crowd. I probably don’t have to say that the salad went mostly untouched (although the leftover salad is going to be a welcome lunch today!)

img-20161113-wa0002     img-20161113-wa0011After eating so many pizzas this year, it was great to come back to Pepe’s and find that it is still our favorite. Sure, it could be partly because we have such strong connections with it as previous regulars, but it is also just really good pizza, and we can never get sick of true New Haven style.

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On a side note, Pepe’s has expanded to several locations now, the most recent being in Chestnut Hill, MA. While we haven’t been to all of these locations, if you are going to go to Pepe’s, you should definitely make it to the one in New Haven. The others just aren’t the same.

img-20161113-wa0025Even though our 101 is complete, we haven’t finished posting about all the pizzas we ate this year on the blog! So we will still be posting, and we have some good stories still to tell. Also, we will be posting our own official ranking of the 2015 101 Best Pizzas in America tomorrow!

To visit:

Margot’s (operating out of Pizza Loves Emily)
919 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Frank Pepe’s Pizza
157 Wooster Street
New Haven, CT 06511

 

 

#21 Paulie Gee’s

December 4th, 2015

Brooklyn, NY

We see Paulie Gee’s on the list of best pizzas in NYC all the time, so it was near the top of our list to go to. It is tucked away in Greenpoint, although they also have locations all over the country now. I think Paulie Gee has opened at least two new restaurants (Chicago, Miami) since we started this quest. Apparently, he is also going to be opening a slice joint, which will be serving only traditional NY slices. We will have to add that to our list too!

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The restaurant was packed when we showed up with my sister and her boyfriend.  Be prepared for a wait if you come on a Friday evening!

The restaurant itself,  being tucked away in a corner of Brooklyn, is really cozy. You have to walk through a set of big wooden farm doors to enter the restaurant, and then you are seated at wooden farmhouse tables. It’s all very rustic Brooklyn and trendy.

We were able to get four pizzas between the four of us, including this white pizza with garlic and spinach, and the “Arugula Schmoogula”. We also got to try some of meat pizzas, and we’d recommend any of the pies with pepperoni. They probably have one of the best selections of pizzas and flavor combinations that we’ve seen (including vegan pies).

We’d like to go back to Paulie Gee’s, now that we’ve finished the list. We think there are many more good pizzas to try here, and we’d really like to compare them more to some of the others that we’ve been to since last year.

To visit:

Paulie Gee’s
60 Greenpoint Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222

 

#23 Grimaldi’s

November 13th, 2015

Brooklyn, NYC

The weekend before we started this quest, we happened to go to Grimaldi’s for dinner. But we decided that we couldn’t count this as part of our challenge (because we didn’t photograph it). We were happy to go back, though, since the first time we only tried the traditional cheese pie. And we got some friends to join us!

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We ordered 3 large pies to split between the 5 of us, which ended up being almost a perfect amount. The ricotta was our favorite and we would definitely get that again. The crust was perfectly charred on the bottom due to the coal-fired brick oven, and the ratio of sauce to cheese on all three pies was excellent.

Interesting fact: Grimaldi opened his restaurant in Brooklyn because  coal ovens are apparently illegal in Manhattan, unless they’re pre-existing or unless building owners get a special exception. If you want to learn more about Manhattan coal ovens, this and this were interesting reads! Who ever knew that pizza ovens could cause so much controversy.

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At this point, we could see why Brooklyn pizza has such a following. It was worth the hour-long trek from Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, Barb made Eric walk all the way there, in preparation for all of the pizza we were about to eat.

On the way home, we took a wrong turn and got lost trying to get back over the bridge. Eric clearly has a great sense of direction!

To visit:

Grimaldi’s
1 Front Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201