Posted by: Jeffsayyes | May 11, 2010

Searching for the Slice in Sheepshead Bay – Del Corso and Papa Leone

I imagine sea floors in places like Bermuda to be a colorful collection of sea creatures foreign to me. I see hose-nosed harlequins and brightly striped sea urchins. Everything loud and exposed, this underwater fantasy of things I’ve never seen before. I want to experience them all, and learn everything about every one of them, but I know I’ll have to come up for air soon. This is what it feels like traveling down Avenue U in Sheepshead Bay.

Every block has so many exciting places, most of Italian and Eastern European descent. But only after minutes of my own sightseeing pictures, I noticed the red blinking battery light on my Canon Elph. What timing! If any of you have experience with this camera, you’ll know that the one flaw with it is that when the battery light comes on, you have about 2 shots left then you’re dead. When I saw the icon light up, the dread came on as I realized that this entire trip, an hour and a half of bike riding from Queens to the bottom of Brooklyn for a tour of pizza, was for nothing.

I’ve done pizza explorations without a camera before. And afterwards I’ve always been filled with regret and incompleteness. To me, it is of utmost importance to document these pizzas. When I looked online for photos of the unique slice from Rosario’s Deli, I was astonished that there were none. All of these experiences I’ve heard of wonderment, and no one has ever snapped a picture? The first time I went, I had no camera and it was more remarkable than I imagined, but eating seemed like a waste of time if I could not document it. Rosario’s was tearing at me to take a picture of their slice, so a month later I went back and did it proper.

I could not let another exploratory pizza tour go without a camera, so instead I got a sandwich.

brennan and carr (12)

I’d heard about Brennan & Carrs for years. Their roast beef is legendary and the building is ripped out of 1930. Right away, I started snapping shots with the Canon and it gave me some allowance to work with. I thought maybe I could even turn the meal into an article…

brennan and carr (19)

…and I can. It will be in another post. But what happened next was a miracle.

It was like hanukkah. After taking shots of my roast beef sandwich, my camera seemed okay. The battery sign stopped coming up so I said fuck it and went to the first of two exciting stops for my Sheepshead Bay pizza tour, Papa Leone (103 Oriental Boulevard).
papa leone (13)

It’s a family shop and who I believe to be Papa Leone was there peeling the garlic in the dining room. His grandson asked to take the next day off day to go on a date. I conservatively took pictures.

papa leone (3)

With further review from the tongue judges, it maintained top-notch crust and sauce. I definitely enjoyed it but am still unsure of what’s up with the cheese. It reminds me of Ellio’s pizza. Maybe they were imitating an Italian pizza like this. Maybe Great Neck’s own frozen pizza company they knew what they were doing after all.

papa leone (6)
papa leone (8)
papa leone (10)
papa leone (11)

And the slice gets even more satisfying as I get closer to the end crust. Staring that orange-stained coastline down, the fruity sauce starts to make more and more sense. The thin crust proves itself unique and a deserving member of the Brooklyn pizza family.

For variety in dining, there is a patio, a casual pizzeria and a separate dining room. Coming here isn’t a mafioso-Italian experience that inspires you to sing That’s Amore, but it will make you believe in pizza. It’s real.

Still riding the miracle of my camera’s battery life, I went to the other highly anticipated stop on my exploratory tour, Pizzeria Del Corso (3003 Avenue U). I’ve been hearing about this for a while and it’s been urgently touted by pizza tour member Justin (see his yelp pizza reviews).

I was impressed just spending the little bit of time I did in the foyer where they serve the slices. The owner seemed to be committed to a quality product and his cronies to making the food with integrity. I believe this to be a serious shop.

del corso

Their flagship is probably the margherita, but that is not what the tour is based on, so I had a regular slice to keep me unbiased. The slice was very respectable though, led by some excellent sauce.

del corso (9)
del corso (6)
del corso (10)
This is slice to study. It’s got a corn flour dusted, unique tasting, flavorful crust. Along the bottom edge of the pie, the crunch of the crust is a little thicker and more substantial than I am used to. It’s probably consistently about 3mm high. This isn’t something that usually stands out in a pie, but it does here. It captures the aroma of the oven and strong-arms the crust aroma inside of itself. It’s still thin though, nearly cracker like. But again, what does it for me is their outstanding sauce, which is among the top-tier of the city.
del corso (12)

del corso (4)
Specialty slices looked great. If the tour wasn’t based on a regular pie, this would probably be in (so would Casa Bella). And check out these heroes:

    Genovese Tonno: Imported Genovese tuna, chopped celery, sliced Roma tomatoes, Sicilian capers, red onions, mayo
    The Godfather: Hot sopperasata, hot calabrese, imported peppered salami, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar
    The Paesana: Mortadella, Genoa salami, mild provo-lone(sic), roasted red peppers, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar

These heroes don’t need stories of the pastures in Italy to make you salivate. They just list the ingredients. And the thought of gluttony, but moreso of meats warming up in my backpack for an hour and half that held me back from ordering one to go.

And when I was ready, the camera died. I didn’t make it to Rocco’s(123 Brighton Beach Ave) or Ciccio’s (207 Avenue U), but I don’t think they would have made the tour anyway. That exploration will have to be for another purpose. Oh, and my bike tire popped too. It was a day with setbacks, that’s for sure, but I got what I needed. My butt hurts so I’m not sure if I’m going to ride again tomorrow.

Del Corso on Chowhound
Del Corso on Slice
Papa Leone on citysearch
Papa Leone on Insider Pages
Article on the graffiti on Del Corso
Delmar on last year’s 5-Boro Pizza Tour
Inspiration from Ice T


  1. Love Papa Leone’s. That would be the owner working in the exposed part of the kitchen area. His name is Angelo. Good man. I usually get a pasta dish, but everything’s good. Nice location – so near the beach.

  2. […] Jeffrey Tastes, a blogger who’s touring Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Manhattan, nibbling bites of […]

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