When you think about quintessentially Brooklyn foods, pizza immediately comes to mind.
What is especially impressive is that, artisanal pies notwithstanding, the corner pizza place often more than holds its own, even against the trendy pizza restaurants that seem to garner all the accolades.
Here is an unscientific round-up of some of the staff favorites from around the borough, hardly a definitive list but simply a delicious starting point on a culinary journey that could, and probably will, take a lifetime.
It may not be fair – after all, it’s the darling of the cool set – but we are going to begin with the legendary Di Fara Pizza (1424 Avenue J), where pizzaiolo Dom DeMarco does what he has done for decades, just to an increasingly large crowd. Get there at opening, and order at least a single pie – because it’s cheaper per slice and the wait is hardly worth it otherwise – and prepare to savor pizza that combines a crispy, often almost charcoaly, super-thin crust, with a savory tomato sauce spiked with fresh basil and generous shavings of freshly grated Parmesan.
Not far away, San Remo Pizzeria (1408 Cortelyou Road) offers what is, to our palate, one of the best slices in the borough, with a crisp crust and a tangy-sweet sauce. While we still mourn the demise of San Remo’s salad slice, we also hail the many other varieties San Remo offers, particularly the Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato slice.
Pronto Pizza (2928 Avenue R) is another of our go-to snack stops. Located not far from Marine Park, the corner pizza place offers slices that more than stand up to the competition, plus a staggering variety of stuffed pizzas and pan pizzas, and vegetable and meat Strombolis that – excuse the pun or not – are deliciously explosive.
There might be more creative slices in Brooklyn, but as the title suggests, there’s not much more authentically Brooklyn than a slice from Original Pizza (2351 Ralph Avenue). For anyone looking for that unadulterated “Brooklyn” neighborhood slice, go no further than Original’s counter. And remember — garlic knots make everything better.
Bath Beach is no stranger to stellar Brooklyn slices either. Right on Bath Avenue, at the corner of Bay 25th Street, Pino’s Pizza combines family friendly dining with the classic, grab-and-go convenience of New York’s classic corner pizzerias. The regular slice features the perfect cheese to sauce ratio and that just-right pizza oven, crispy crust. If you’re in the mood for some meat with your cheese, Pino’s chicken roll ($5.00) is the way to go. With a doughy exterior – equal parts soft and crispy – and chicken smothered in sweet red sauce and salty, savory cheeses, it can do no wrong.
In Bensonhurst, we often head for Da Vinci Pizzeria (6514 18th Avenue) where the Sicilian slice is king. This old-school pizzeria, run by two brothers who learned their trade from their dad, who was self-taught, also offers a mean Rice Ball and a yummy Potato Croquette, as well as a creamy White Pizza with ricotta and mozzarella as co-stars.
For many people, there are two letters synonymous with Brooklyn pizza. Those letters are L and B. Famous for their thick Sicilian pies, L&B Spumoni Gardens, a family owned business, has been dishing out thick crust, rich in sweet sauce slices since before 1940. The eatery’s Sicilian – or square, depending on what part of Brooklyn you’re from – slice is doughy, pizza heaven. That sweet sauce coupled with the perfectly distributed cheese, keeps native New Yorkers coming back to Gravesend for the slice they simply can’t fugghedabout.
Also in Gravesend, Knapp Pizza II (261 Avenue X) has a broad selection with many options. We still often go for the regular slice, which is excellent, frequently accompanied by one of Knapp’s mini-spinach rolls, though we are just as likely to indulge in the full-size spinach roll, which is chock-full of the good greens and gooey melted cheese.
If you’re looking for a quick slice in the heart of Bay Ridge, look no further than Bay Ridge Pizza (7704 Fifth Avenue). The pizza place – on the block for more than 30 years – boasts an impressive array of original, square and specialty slices. Someone with a hankering for a sweeter pizza sauce might look to the classic “Grandma” slice. Loaded with lots of sauce (available by pie with cheese, or no cheese,) the “Grandma” slice boasts thin crust, plum tomatoes and plenty of taste.
If you’re looking for a true “Bay Ridginal,” look no further than Pizza Wagon (8610 Fifth Avenue). The long-standing pizzeria is known best for its original and square slices, both of which are available for sit-down or via the eatery’s quick and easy walk-up window. Always fresh, slices of each are delicately crispy, and piled with ooey-gooey mozzarella.