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/
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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