New pizza joints like Motorino and Co. have been rightly praised. But I’d like to issue a plea for La Pizzetta in Brooklyn Heights, who I feel has been wrongly accused and grossly over-looked.
The criticisms are mostly cosmetic, as La Pizzetta definitely doesn’t fit the new Brooklyn dining mold: no dark wood; no old-time lights; no mainstream indie soundtrack. Instead think suburban mom goes to the Italian equivalent of Pier 1 and buys chunky, brightly colored ceramics with flowers painted on them. And the vibe is strange, if actually more authentic to Italy than our rustic, romanticized version: You feel slightly out of place when you walk in; an awkward exchange with the staff is likely; and you sense you’re doing something wrong. There’s also muted soccer on a mounted TV while weird Italian pop music blares inappropriately loud and you may or may not be brought a small bowl of olives. Now keep in mind this comparison with Italy is based entirely on one week-long trip spent in Rome which was filled with uncomfortable restaurant encounters and surprisingly unstylish dining situations, so it could be totally inaccurate. But, like in Rome, I could eat the brick-oven pizza from La Pizzetta every night for a week and still be perfectly happy eating more pizza from La Pizzetta. It’s that good.
Relatively speaking of course. It’s not as good as Lucali (what is?) but the fact that you can actually get in is a big plus. No showing up at 4:45, waiting two hours, and having them call your cell phone so you have to chug your beer and book it from Abilene. It’s great pizza with no pre-planning necessary. Just show up and chances are you’ll get a seat immediately (at least on weeknights).
The pies are similar to those at Franny’s in Park Slope — they’re small, topped with simple combinations of high-quality ingredients, and just about as good. But unlike Franny’s, La Pizzetta isn’t over-priced (Pizzetta pies average $12). The brick oven in the back manages a super thin crust – possibly the thinnest I’ve ever encountered — which comes out crispy and charred and just right (the way Grimaldi’s used to be). As is often the case, the Margherita is the best bet. There’s a simple, bright and perfectly acidic sauce, a slight layer of bufala mozzarella, a few strips of fresh basil and a thin drizzle of olive oil. The flavor is modest but I like the subtlety. The more inventive pies are worthwhile too, even if the thin crust occasionally buckles beneath the chunky toppings (I’m looking at you sausage and broccoli rabe!). They also have bruschetta and pasta, but I would concentrate on the 20-plus pizzas.
Maybe I’m delusional, but La Pizzetta is refreshingly devoid of any new-Brooklyn ambience and it’s a reliable, accessible spot for good thin-crust pizza. And if the mom décor or Italian music are too off-putting, get it delivered. Really I just want people to go so it doesn’t shut down. Please support the cause?
motorino is so overrated- the pizza is dull dull dull. one of those nyc mysteries…
Yelp is often spot on but I hear your plea. La Pizzetta, here I come.
I just gave La Pizetta a 5-star rating and a lengthy review on Yelp. I think this is the best thing to hit the hood. I am addicted… simply addicted. Their salads are pretty amazing too. I spent two weeks in the countryside near Milan, and La Pizzetta brings it all back. It’s authentic, for sure.
(The atmosphere is fine. I mean, look at Grimaldi’s down the street…. it’s filthy! But I have it delivered anyway.)
Thanks for your spot-on review.