Posted by: Jeffsayyes | April 3, 2010

Totonno’s and La Casa Bella Exploratory Pizza Tour

There’s about a thousand lost pizzerias from Elmhurst to Coney Island that I’d like to try. I bet about 10 of them are remarkable – which is a fine percentage by me. I rode the Schwinn down and before I realized I was lost, I stopped for some road slice. It was Sicily’s Best on Cypress Ave in Bushwick. The opening to the street was a half moon, I liked the tan (possibly stucco) on the outside, and although the signage was a flat graphic, I went in, took a look and got a slice.

I gotta give it some respect. The crust was thin but doughy. The grease seeped through the layers from top to bottom. The flavors flowed in distinctive waves of oregano, cheese, and sweet sauce inside my mouth. On top of that, nice bubbling throughout with cheese rolling up onto the lip of the crust. Could it be considered one of the best? For some in the neighborhood, yes it could.

Sicily’s Best
190 Cypress Ave
Brooklyn, NY11237
718-456-1833

sicilys best (5)
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sicilys best (7)

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Finally I made it to Neptune Ave, the bottom of the Island. It was 2pm and the line for Totonno’s was zero. I was last here about 4 years ago. It was the first pie which led me to believe that there is much more out there beyond my neighborhood corner slice.

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After the fire that took them out for more than a year, they’re back and they say they’re more popular than ever. This was not the news I was looking for, because I’m thinking about a group return here. Now, with a more experienced tastebud, I’m back. What stands out for me is the cooling tomato sauce and, of course, the smoky crust. The crust is different from every other pizzeria in New York. It’s a crust of forgotten Italian bakeries. At first, the whaff of smokiness made me believe it was burnt. I took a peek under her skirt and saw only a bit of black chars. That’s how i like it. That smoke was completely contained in the hard crust.

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And what genius in the composition of the slice! The circular alternation of the sauce and cheese, yes, but at the end crust, it’s a dense wad of smoke bread. So much so that your mouth gets dry and lonely. At this point, the only salvation is the tip of another slice of Totonno’s pizza! Yes! It’s an infinite loop! 8

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totonnos

Totonno Pizzeria Napolitano
1524 Neptune Ave
(between 15th St & 16th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11224
(718) 372-8606

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La Casa Bella
2579 Cropsey Avenue
(between 26th Ave & Bay 41st St)
Brooklyn, NY 11214
(718) 449-0200

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Margherita slice, you’ve got excellent tomato sauce, I can even see the chopped tomatoes in there among the deep red. I see those distinctive herbs dancing around in glee, and your homemade fresh mozzarella sits at the acme tier. The crust does not match the rest though, and I ate it just to be nice.
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Square margherita is a rookie's mistake here. You are right to try to get as little crust as possible here.

The regular slice was exemplary. It had everything you could want on a slice. Sweet sauce, slightly gooey cheese that releases from the crust easily, plus a nice splash of cooked cheese along the coastline.
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Something of note is the undertuck lip of some of the slices at Casa Bella. At this instance, it occured on the margherita but not on the neopolitan. Is this by design or by result?
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The specialty pies were notable too. Slices like a square buffalo had toppings nearly reaching 2 inches in height. Everything extra looked remarkable here. They’re a full-menu pizzeria and restaurant, and I bet there are 40 outstanding dishes that come from their kitchen. Bath Beach is extremely lucky to have La Casa Bella. Any neighborhood would be.

check out the fully encompassing fresh mozzarella on this a la vodka

Links:
BushwickBK review of Sicily’s Best
Pizza, Burgers & BBQ courtesy Vice Mag
Fire Shuts down Totonno’s (NYT)
Pic and article of fire at Totonno’s (Daily News)
Great reviews of La Casa Bella on Citysearch
La Casa Bella on Yelp (more great reviews)


Responses

  1. I haven’t been to Totonno’s in two years. Your writeup is certainly a wake-up call; I need to find my way down to Neptune much sooner rather than later!

  2. […] Regina’s atmosphere mirrored that of Grimaldi’s or Totonno’s, its pizza had a distinctly less refined bent. Heavy coats of tomato sauce and mozzarella, more […]


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