Posted by: Jeffsayyes | April 9, 2010

Park Slope Pizza Exploratory Tour

I was lucky enough to take nearly a full pie’s worth of people on my Park Slope exploratory pizza tour. I’m not used to it, usually it’s just me and my Schwinn, but I’m happy to have such support on these missions.

Luigi’s is already slated for the tour, but I wanted to explore the many other pizzerias here. We hit the Slope hard.

La Villa 261 5th Ave (between 1st St & Carroll St) http://www.lavillaparkslope.com/
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They started us off with a garlic and an onion foccacia, which was appreciated.
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But those were superfluous for the day. Let’s get down to pizza: It’s a nice, light crust. Springy, but too thin to notice. And the cheese and sauce were respectable, but let’s be honest – just because I respect a guy doesn’t mean I want to hang out with him… Maybe it was our fault for ordering the DOC. Buffalo mozzarella is broadly considered the premium cheese, but I am increasingly questioning it’s functioning for satisfaction. It is usually blander than regular mozzarella, so it’s not an easy topping for a random pie. I think there’s a proper cheese and sauce for every crust, and I think this buffalo mozzarella could work better elsewhere. It wasn’t bad by any means, but maybe we should have gotten the focaccia di nonna.

Their small pie is 13″ – which is quite large for being personal sized. It’s more than enough for two people. Below are pictures of the DOC and the Speciale – which is basically a pie with the works.

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The seating of the Eternal Gardens of La Villa gets busy at obvious times, and there’s a reason for it. The huge oven looks like it’s from Metropolis, as they push the undone pie into the M-Machine. And the underworld at over 850 degrees makes the crust rise. Grot pushes a garlic and an onion foccacia onto your table, then refills your water. Unfortunately, in the end, our Maria escaped. The pizza was almost, but decidedly not remarkable.

la villa

Tomato & basil 227 4th Avenue (between President St & Union St) (718) 596-8855
tomato and basil (3)

The Margherita and the grandma are clearly what to get here. But the regular does have a nice crust with some good under-char from a pizzaiolo who knows his shit. The standout part of the slice was it’s bright, tangy, sweet sauce, but the cheese was only complacently along for the ride.

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It’s a thin grandma slice. Both that and the Margherita give you a heavy, healthy dose of garlic in each. It’s deserving of the next level. The plain is tasty, but it’s dwarfed in comparison to their Margheritas. How could I willingly order a regular slice here? I’d be a fool!
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Also notable is their clean, compact display of pizzas. So close, they probably conserve each other’s heat. Overall, T&B is a good shop, up there in the top 25th percentile of Park Slope slices.

Peppinos 469 5th Ave (between 10th St & 11th) (718) 768-7244 http://ilovepeppinos.com
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This was the most unique regular slice of the tour. It was soft and fluffy, even creamy throughout. The cheese tasted soft as well, blending together in my mouth. And it comes out of a wood-burning brick oven which lends a hint of flavor to the crust. Some would call it delectable and I wouldn’t argue. I might even be pressed to agree.

It’s a pretty place and although the selection is nothing special, I’d feel like a mensch if I brought a date here. I think she’d appreciate my willingness to throw caution to the wind and bring her somewhere seemingly casual. And I’d even get the tip as well because the prices are more than reasonable.
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This location is relatively new, but they’ve already attained their chops from the original in Bay Ridge. And if you start pigeonholing them into “old school”, they can throw at you thier infamous “Pizza I Dunno“, which is a pizza / calzone hybrid.

Peppino’s was probably my favorite regular slice on this tour, the only one I would consider remarkable. I’d like to compare this against one of my favorites in Brooklyn, South Slope’s Luigi’s. I’d like to. But that would be unfair.

Lenny’s Pizzeria 594 5th Ave (between 16th St & prospect Ave)
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lenny's
This might be the Park Slope pizzeria with the most history, being in business for over 50 years. We got a regular and a Lenny’s Special Slice, which is just pepperoni with extra cheese. And that’s interesting to me. Usually a house special has the works, or some unusual ingredient like truffle oil or curry goat, but here it’s just pepp and xtra-cheese. I kind of like that.

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They have soda from the fountain as well as from cans. And it’s a good coke as well. Syrupy as it should be. And the slices were nice and old school. Slightly charred, a bit salty. Good bubbling throughout the pie and along the coastline, but I will admit had some leftover rind.

I’d like Lenny’s around the corner from me. If it were, I’d get it when homesick. But I’d only go alone because it’s not worth bringing anyone here.

Peppe’s 597 4th Avenue @ 17th st. (718) 788-7333
Look for the awning with pit-stain colored writing.
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The stuffed pie is the most remarkable pizza here with it’s tomato sauce curiously on top. It works. The sauce softens the top crust, taking away the customary dryness of a stuffed crust shell. And the insides form into each other, borrowing flavors and giving out a great end product. Other than that, the slices are just okay.

The space is tight, with only 7 countertop seats. It’s pretty, although faux. Is this new or just redone?

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They use San Marzano DOP tomatos and fior di latte mozzarella. The menu is vegetarian friendly with about half of the choices purely veg. Also they don’t sell heros, only paninis. Call me an American purist, but all of this irks my girk. It seems like they are catering to 2008 Time Out magazine. Oh, by the way: heros are gonna come back. They’re gonna come back real hard. Who made paninis popular? Someone like Quiznos or Starbucks ruined it for me. Hey, maybe this is what Slope wants. Maybe this is why I don’t live in Park Slope.

Toby’s Public House 686 6th Ave (between 20th St & 21st St) (718) 788-1186
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It’s beautiful in there: classic octagonal floor tiles, a tin ceiling, and the integrated wood-burning oven. This is probably one of the best places to have a pizza in the city, if not for the gigantic screens affirming Toby’s as a Sports Bar. The space is smaller than it should be though, so I wonder how it handles a crowd more than 30.

There’s a premium for eating here. I’m not exactly sure what for. It couldn’t be the location, right? It’s pretty far from everything. It might be the decor, or it might be the TVs. It could be the pizzas, but really, how much could a pie cost? I didn’t see the receipts or go through their trash in search of 00 flour, but I did feel like it was made with quality ingredients. And what’s going to happen when Lucali’s new place opens down the block?

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The pie stood out for it’s vibrant sauce and flavorful crust. The cheese was secondary, but much appreciated. It wasn’t the all-time greatest, and it didn’t make me flip my seat, but that may be because of the pizza coma coming on at this point in the tour. It was nearly remarkable though. Enough so that in review I am currently salivating. The pizzas seemed flawless. But in such a new place, I worry about science coming into play too much. Formulas and weather vanes.

Slightly related: A probing member of our team got some of the jerky. It tasted like leather. Meat leather.

Toby’s is a good slice, alright. I’ll give it that. But can anyone morally call it the best in Brooklyn? Could it be anyone’s favorite? I am looking for a polarizing pie for the tour. And I’m questioning if this is it.

Links:
Metropolis with a unique soundtrack
Peppino’s Pizza I Dunno on Slice
Chowhound on Peppino’s
Peppino’s reviews on Yelp
Lots more written about Toby’s on Yelp
Brooklyn leg of the 5-Boro Pizza Tour 2009
Slice’s Pizza Walk of Park Slope


Responses

  1. you havent eaten pizza in park slope unless you’ve gone to smiling pizza on
    7th ave ave and 9th street

  2. Have you every tried the pizzas at La Cabana’s Argentinian? Greasy, and beefy. If you’re looking for polarization, this would be it.

    Not my favorite slice but I’m curious, why wasn’t Cabana included in the tour if you’re specifically looking for something ‘different’?

  3. I’m 44 and grew up in Bklyn. I remember the NY slice in it’s hey day, which has long since passed. Smiling is somewhere between OK and below average for a traditional NY style slice. There are PLENTY of better places in Park Slope. When compared with the new artisanal style pizza that has taken over it absolutely blows.

  4. David, which are some of your favorite places?

    The places listed here… I usually have better pizza than this. Luigi’s is great though.

  5. You missed a crown jewel of PS Pizza. You must hit Franny’s on Flatbush, I know this borders on the outskirts, but this stuff is THE BEST SHIT EVER.

  6. Tru Dat on Franny’s. This is the closest thing I’ve had to Neapolitan pizza outside Naples. P.S. It’s in prospect Heights. Another great place in PH is Amorina. Ruth, who trained the kitchen staff @ Amorina is now the head pizza chef at Pulino’s on Bowery & Houston. The best white pizza I’ve ever had is not on the menu at Amorina, but ask for the “Dave Special” if you like cheese and garlic. Their dessert pizza with cherry and creme fraiche is the best dessert pizza I’ve had anywhere.

  7. yes, I have to go to Franny’s. I’m doing these exploratory tours for my big pizza tour. I didn’t check it out last year either because I am a little apprehensive about the lines. I should really go though, if it could be considered the best in brooklyn, it should be on the tour.

  8. Favorite places in PS? Hmmm. I’d have to split it into two types (maybe more). I like Pizza Town on 5th ave., Bella Maria on 3rd ave, and Joe’s Pizza of Bleeker Street for NY style pizza (especially their white pizza with fresh tomato slice). I like the fresh mozzarella pie at Pino’s on 7th. I like Pepino’s a lot, but I’d place that into a hybrid NY/artisanal category. Crazy enough I don’t recall ever trying Lenny’s unless there were times as a teenager that I don’t remember. I’ll go this weekend. Outside PS I would vote for Franny’s overall for best in NY, but it’s def. not NY Style. That vote MOS DEF goes to Di Fara, though I would put his in a category by itself because the style in NY, but the flavor is actually quite different. Interestingly enough Artichoke in the City has a regular slice (as opposed to their namesake slice) that is VERY CLOSE (8 1/2 out of 10) to Di Fara and the crust doesn’t mush.

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