Does the city need another pizza restaurant? I think it can make room for Ops, a new spot in Bushwick that specializes in wood-fired oven pizza made with a sourdough crust. The pizzas are excellent, but the ambience is even better. Something about Ops feels very cozy and comfy, like you’re grabbing a bite to eat at your neighborhood bar, totally devoid of the chaos of a joint like Grimaldi’s or the slight sceney-ness of a Roberta’s.Read More
You know a pizza place is good when David Chang and his camera crew decide to feature it in an upcoming episode of Lucky Peach. That’s what we stumbled upon when we stopped by Emmy Squared, the new pizza restaurant in Williamsburg run by Emily and Matt Hyland, the duo behind the very popular Pizza Loves Emily in Clinton Hill, for brunch. There were cameras in the back filming Chang and someone else digging into a plate of what looked like a very delicious and immense spicy chicken sandwich. With the Chang stamp of approval, expectations were sky high.Read More
I’ve been obsessed with Emily for awhile. This sounds a little Single White Female stalkerish, so let me clarify–Emily is a restaurant in Clinton Hill run by Emily and Matt Hyland, and I’ve been dying to try the pizza there for some time. What was stopping me? Clinton Hill just sounded really far for some reason (it’s actually really not), and the restaurant doesn’t take reservations.
It makes total sense then that I stumbled upon Emily by accident. We were wrapping up a cupping at Parlor Coffee’s facility in Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is in the middle of nowhere, and started walking towards civilization, or basically any area that had a train back to Manhattan. Clinton Hill happened to be the neighborhood that was the closest, and as we made our way there and walked down Fulton St, we saw some people waiting outside a restaurant. I peeked in, exclaimed “OMG, this is Emily!”, and felt like I was being reunited with an old friend, even though we had never met. But clearly this was meant to be, and we had to eat here, no matter how long the wait. Luckily the wait was only 10 minutes. We were doing this!
Everyone around us ordered the same thing, a pizza and the Emmy Burger, a gorgeous hunk of grass fed dry aged meat that there ever was. I came here thinking I would only have eyes for the pizza, but I also fell in love with the burger. This really is the best burger that I’ve ever had. It’s such a high quality patty that’s legitimately good on its own as a standalone ground beef steak. It’s seasoned so well with pepper, garlic and caramelized onions, and the combination of the melted cheddar cheese and the secret Emmy sauce is magic. It takes a certain kind of bun to be able to support this big, juicy patty, and the sturdy pretzel bun is up to the task. It’s served with these thin, crispy french fries that taste like the ones at McDonald’s. I can’t say enough good things about it.
The burger was a hard act to follow, but the pizza also made a very strong showing. The two girls sitting next to us recommended that we order the Colony pie, and judging by how happy and content they looked after eating it, I decided to take their advice. I was instantly mesmerized by how amazing the pizza was. The thin and blistery wood-fired Neopolitan-style crust was perfect, and the flavors of the toppings covered the essential parts of the palate–sweetness from the honey, heat from the pickled chili, and saltiness from the cheese. If you’ve ever had the bee sting pizza from Roberta’s, it tastes like that, and that’s one very high bar. Emily can add another one to her many admirers–Pizza Loves Emily, and so do I.
919 Fulton St (between Waverly Ave and Clinton Ave)
Brookyln, NY 11238
There’s a concept in retailing called the hero SKU. It’s basically the one item in the store that carries the entire business. At Tory Burch this would be her famous ballet flat, or at Ralph Lauren it would be the men’s polo shirt. And for food, it would be the pancakes at Clinton Street Bakery and the cupcakes at Magnolia (even though the banana pudding is wayyy better).
And at Pasquale Jones, the new Italian restaurant in Nolita run by the Charlie Bird team, the little neck clam pizza is the hero. Clam chowder is one of my favorite foods in the world. It was the soup of the day on Friday at Denny’s, and you can only guess what I had for dinner every Friday night in the suburbs. This pie basically tastes like Friday night at Denny’s, and I mean that in the most flattering way. If you can imagine creamy clam chowder soup on top of a doughy, chewy crust, that is what this clam pizza tastes like. Since the Charlie Bird team is behind this, you know that they can recommend some excellent wines to pair with that pizza. I am blanking on the bottle we ordered, but it was somewhat dry, a little funky, and brought out the brine in the clams.
Sometimes a restaurant might rest on the laurels of the hero SKU and neglect the other parts of the menu. Pasquale Jones is not like that. I didn’t think I would love eating leeks as an appetizer, as the faint resemblance to onions is not really my thing, but here they braise away any of that raw flavor so that you almost feel like you’re eating creamy meaty asparagus with scallions. I love how the menu is small so that you don’t get too overwhelmed by choices. You can order a few appetizers, a pizza and an entree and feel like you’ve grasped the main intent of the menu.
There’s only one dessert option, a mascarpone gelato with rhubarb and olive oil. You might think it’s a lazy way to check the box at the end of a meal, but it’s one of the best parts. They rotate the fruit topping based on the season, but whatever it is, the tastiness is perennial. And the icing on the cake? Gratuity is included but the prices aren’t outrageous. One of the few times where saying “check please” is a pleasant one.
187 Mulberry St (between Broome & Kenmare St)
New York, NY 10012
If someone from out of town ever wanted me to show them around Brooklyn, I would prepare an itinerary that would involve a stop at Roberta’s. This place personifies the Brooklyn spirit that people from other countries can’t get enough of. It has a free-spirited, youthful energy and a quirky DIY, local/artisanal/Etsy-sourced aesthetic that lives up to expectations. And more importantly, the food is worth the extra stops on the L train, especially the amazing pizzas. A soft, bubbly crust with a sturdy core topped with the creamiest of cheese and other fresh toppings, there’s nothing quite like it.
There will be a long wait for a table, even when you go during off hours. Brooklyn is like a theme park at times, especially at a place like this, so you’ll have to line up with locals and tourists alike. Roberta’s has done a great job in making the wait bearable, as you can order pizza from the take out counter and bring it with you to the makeshift drinking tent outside, or you can try your luck at the bar in the back and hope one of the stools open up. Eventually you’ll get the text saying your table is ready, and 1 or 2 beers in, that bee sting pizza will be the bee’s knees.
261 Moore St (Between Bogart and White St)
Brooklyn, NY 11206