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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guest Blog: Jenny Klion & Judy Cosper on Pizza in Brooklyn

Jenny Klion writes and cooks, cooks and writes. It was a pleasure to meet her and taste some of her baked goods last October at the Martha's Vineyard Writers Residency. I'm excited to share her and her daughter's thoughts on pizza in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. They were good sports to dedicate themselves to such a rough job: Pizza tasting. 

Jenny Klion created the underground Bakery 44 several years ago, and is also a columnist and playwright living in Brooklyn, NY. “Judy” is a 9th grader at NYC LAB School, dances with American Tap Dance Orchestra, NYC, and works front of house for her mother’s baking operations.

Pizza Party in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
By Jenny Klion and Judy Cosper

When I moved to Brooklyn this past summer with my teen daughter Judy, one of the first things on our agenda was to try every single pizza parlor in the neighborhood, or at least seven of them…

Allora, a quick review online reminds the reader that the universal pizza pie consists of four different components: crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings. To keep variables at a minimum, Judy and I are ignoring the toppings this time around (save for the Parigina four-slice mini pizza we had at Luna Rossa, with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and ham—yes, thank you!—and the porcini mushrooms we ordered atop our pie at Lucali, just ’cause). Instead, we’re sticking here with a comparison of the basic “Slice of cheese, please.”

Starting at the bottom and working up—and I say this with the greatest of reverence—is Grandma’s Boy’s Pizzeria. Even the name is a tad confusing grammatically, and while service was prompt and pleasant, the faded looking slice disappointed. Further, it was here where I was reminded that it’s all about the crust, because at Grandma’s Boy’s, a few bites in, and I could taste the unattractive white bread quality of it…

Next up: World Pie Pizza. “Party pizza,” declared Judy. Meaning we’ve seen it before, in large quantities, at many a kid’s bowling or skating party, where sauce and cheese are not quite distinguishable from one another. But crust was not terrible, so will probably return at some point. Sal’s Pizzeria up the street always has a crowd, and Judy and I tried this place twice, just to be sure that it really wasn’t as good as it looked. It wasn’t. Loaded too heavily, with a somewhat soggy dough, this pizza slice could not hold its own weight, and was definitely not better the next day heated up for lunch.

South Brooklyn Pizza, which we visited on Super Bowl Sunday, was our most expensive slice, topping the charts at four dollars, making two slices eight dollars, so thank God they literally refused us a third to take home. “There isn’t anymore.” What?! That said, I wanted to like it; it looked clean and fresh and upscale and more, but our slices were barely warm, and though the crust was good—“Eh,” Judy said—it was not worth the hype, the cash, or the dis!

Not to be undone by South Brooklyn, Judy and I ambled the half block to our old standby Vinny’s Pizzeria. There, despite the ten-minute wait for our one slice of pizza (?), we couldn’t believe how good it tasted. Judy: “No comparison.” Yes, maybe the crust was a bit heavy, and the cheese a tad oily—there’s possibly no way around that—but it was steaming hot, in a friendly environment, and seemed like the prototype of a perfectly balanced piece of pizza.

Next: Luna Rossa, though Judy and I disagree on this. Here was the beautiful looking four-slice artisan pie, with the fabulous raw pizza sauce (not cooked in its preparation), which is why I’m pulling rank to rank it this high! But the admittedly soggy crust, and possibly flavorless mozzarella didn’t live up to the restaurant’s growing buzz. “Trying too hard,” Judy remarked.

Rumored to be the best in the neighborhood—and where Jay-Z and Beyonce dined instead of attending the Grammys! (according to the local Carroll Gardens Patch)—is Lucali and this pizza press agrees! No reservations, no slices, no credit cards, no website, no restaurant sign either! It’s BYO, pizza and calzone only, and more than worth the thirty-minute wait, even the next day, both cold and reheated! Once inside, the pizza came fast and dramatic, with its exuberant almost flaky crust laying atop just the right, light amount of cornmeal. Sauce and cheese bubbled together, maintaining integrity, hiding delights of oil and garlic and basil (okay, maybe overkill there), creating a delectable surprise in every bite. It was the lightest, most beautiful pizza I’ve had since we moved to Brooklyn.

“Mission accomplished,” Judy declared. At least in this neighborhood…

Grandma’s Boy’s Pizzeria, 512 Court Street
World Pie Pizza, 404 Court Street
Sal’s Pizzeria, 305 Court Street
South Brooklyn Pizza, 451 Court Street
Vinny’s Pizzeria, 445 Court Street
Luna Rossa, 552 Court Street
Lucali, 575 Henry Street


Colleen said...

Nice Jenny! I can tell by your writing that Locali was your fave. Looking forward to a personal tour there. Guess you're a bit pizza-ed out at the moment though.. :)

Mikie OH! said...

Nice! Made me hungry!

tKat said...

Great article on the Carrol Gardens pizza scene! I loved it as I was reading I couldn't help to reminice about the slice we had inyour hood this past summer. It was delicious. Third best I had during my stay. Was that Vinny's?
I am looking forward to my next trip and having a pie, maybe even a calzone at your fave. Maybe we'll see Mariah Carey.

tKat said...

Great Article on Pizza haunts of Carrol Gardens. Reading the article I couldn't help but to reminice about the slice I had with you in Brooklyn this past summer. Was that Vinny's? It was my third favorite slice durning my favorite stay. I am looking forward to my next visit and going to your # 1 rated and having a pie maybe even a calzone. Perhaps we'll see Mariah Carey.

Chloe Yelena Miller said...

Thanks for reading... and eating pizza!

Jenny said...

Thanks all! I appreciate! Thought I'd be done with pizza now, but in fact, just the opposite. My appetite is whetted...