I knew it wouldn’t be remarkable as I approached. Drab floors, an insipid counterman, quiet dining area with a delivery boy just hanging out, and a history dating to around 18 years, all signs of mediocrity. But I tried it anyway. For these exploratory tours, I have to be a bit gullible. You never know when an outstanding slice is going to jump out of nowhere from an unlikely source.
And the pizza wasn’t bad at all. I liked the cheese bubbling and the garlicky streams throughout, accompanied by the flavorful, yet soft, bottom char. The dough/sauce/cheese blended nicely with each other. And when you bite through the slice to the crunchy bottom, you get a nice impression of all the layers in your mouth’s eye. It’s good. Very good, just a bit greasy.
Mister Phil’s is not a destination, but it is a good neighborhood slice reliable for eating the end crust every time. But in Bensonhurst, where you can go from one pizzeria to another and not miss a song on Z100, I will try my next neighborhood slice somewhere else.
Mamma Mia 2307 65th St
Again, not tourworthy. It feels remodeled and the oven looks sturdy, in a hard plastic sort of way. The place is only 2 years old, but already it’s disbanded from the adjacent restaurant space it once occupied. Now it’s a closet with 4 tables and a big glass dashboard. Still, most new pizzerias are crap, but this one is great with solid ingredients – though lacking a spark of passion.
Starting off the slice, it’s immediately salty, super cheesy and satisfying. The excellent, herb laced sauce squeaks through the cheese to your tongue. And the crust goes well with the cheese and sauce, but by itself it’s the fat kid (left out). This would beat most old school places, but the end crust ruined it for me. I enjoyed the journey through the pizza, but the coast left me in arid disappointment. At that point, I didn’t want another.
Il Colosseo. 7704 18th Ave
These pies have a slightly sweet, flour dusted, thin crust. The sauce is strong and their own fresh mozzarella is a great accompaniment. Every ingredient is up there with the best and every piece is scrumptious. Yes, scrumptious. I’m not sure what’s leading the way, but towards the end of the pie when the wetness of the oil and tomato creeps into the crust, everything of your mouthful becomes sweet and beautiful. I recommend the pie to sit for about ten minutes to let it culminate.
It’s possibly a perfect pie.
And they don’t even care. I walked to the rear to take a look at the oven and I felt like an alien in front of the manager. I wouldn’t discount anything they make as anything but the real deal, but I doubt they’re used to being lauded for things like pizza. It’s not infrequent in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn when you aim to watch their oven process and get the prying phrase “Is everything alright?” But it’s not they food they’re talking about, it’s your head-as in, “What’s wrong with you?”
But the best find for this trip was Monte’s (156 Avenue O).
On the way to Mamma Mia’s, I found a block which had a bakery from 1918, a restaurant from 1930, and Monte’s. 3 years ago, I was on a mission to find the best Italian hero ever. I basically quit because I was getting disappointed too often.
That hero, oh man. The countergirl was creating this angel for 10 minutes. The guy-next-in-line’s eyes were bulging out, I heard him say: “Oh my god, what is that??” She layered on the hot capicolla, mortadella, salami and fontinella cheese, then lettuce and roasted red peppers, she cut up the onions and tomatoes herself, she shook in some shakers, and then applied the dressing. This hard working maiden had to use the big bread knife to fold it, otherwise it would flop outwards, dismissing the sesame seed submarine altogether. Packing it to go, this hero took up my entire backpack. This is how an Italian hero should be though it never is. My god, that hero.