Bushwick Pizza Party
254 Irving Avenue, Bushwick
If you wish you could still celebrate your birthday at Chuck E. Cheese’s but choose not to because they don’t serve hard liquor, Bushwick Pizza Party offers the next best thing. It’s both a restaurant-bar and a time capsule of sorts, a kitschy nostalgia-fest for those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, complete with Super Soakers, Mario Kart murals, and Magic 8-Balls.
Bushwick Pizza Party, which took over the Irving Avenue location of Verde Coal Oven Pizza, was opened by the owners of the equally whimsical but more risqué Boobie Trap, a boob-themed bar across the street. Instead of plastic nipples, the walls here are covered with the contents of a typical Millennial’s toy chest (Super Soakers on a wooden gun rack, an impressive action figure collection, a mirror framed in Hot Wheels cars), as well as movie posters from slumber party cult classics (Now and Then, Gremlins, The Goonies, Fast Times at Ridgemont High). “Party On” commands a neon sign behind the bar. The maximalist decor and attention to detail (silverware comes tied in colorful pipe-cleaners) means you’ll notice something new every time you come.
Unlike many of its neighboring bars, the spot appeals to both man-children and actual children alike. When I got there on a recent Saturday evening, a literal pizza party of a dozen squealing kids and their tired moms was in full swing. They shared several of the punnily named coal oven pizzas (gluten-free crusts and vegan cheese are available) and desserts (recommended: the handmade tiramisu). Popular favorites include the “Hawaiian Shirt,” a pineapple, ham, mozzarella, and orchid pie; “Go to Kale,” with spicy carrot ricotta, fresh kale, pesto, and bacon; and “Can You Fig It,” covered in dried figs. In between bites, the kids posed on the leopard-print booths, took turns shimmying through the beaded curtain that leads to the Mario-Kart-muraled bathroom, consulted the Magic 8-Balls adorning the bar, and drew with dry-erase markers on the tables, which are laminated with tic-tac-toe games, mazes, and MASH. Soon, though, the kids left and the post-pubescent set filed in, there for the beer, wine, mimosas, and sangria (but also for the coloring and toys and stuff, too).
Pizza Party is still waiting to get a full liquor license, so for now, they’re using soju in all cocktails, which you can pretend you bought with your older sister’s fake ID while living out this Peter Pan Syndrome fantasy.