Saturday, December 22, 2012

Brooklyn Pizza: Lucali, Di Fara, Spumoni

Brooklyn Pizza showdown.

Lucali vs. Di Fara vs. L & B Spumoni Gardens 

I'm not saying that these 3 pizzerias are the best Brooklyn has to offer, but all 3 are pretty damn amazing. You may like Grimaldi's better, or the ricotta hot pepper pie at Franny's (YUM), but as stand alone pizza joints,  I tend to frequent these the most. 

The breakdown:

575 Henry Street @ Carroll, 718-858-4086, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn 718-858-4086

Pizza: Phenomenal. Thin crispy crust (almost cracker-like), sauce is light, smooth and tangy. Beautiful balance of flavors, and excellent texture. Toppings include artichoke hearts, mushrooms, pepperoni, onions, peppers, shallots, basil & garlic (free)

Atmosphere: Intimate & romantic
Health Grade: A 

What else should I know? BYOB, Cash Only. All they have here is pizza and calzones, but you don't need much else. The CALZONE is amazing (some say better than the pizza). I like the artichoke hearts on my pizza, and shallots and hot peppers in my calzone. The service is efficient, if not particularly friendly, and I love the open kitchen and watching the magic happen. Rumor has it that a select few can also get a nutella calzone for dessert. 

Convenience: Not. But if you get the system down, it is doable. Call and they can put your name down and call you when it's almost time. On a Thursday night, I called at 7, they said 30-40 mins, and by the time I drove there and parked, our table was ready. 

VERDICT: Go. It is worth the wait. My #1. 

Di Fara 
1424 Ave J corner of East 15th, Midwood, Brooklyn, 718-258-1367,

Pizza: It's clear from the moment you walk in that Domenico Demarco (Dom) puts his soul into Di Fara. He stands alone behind the tiny counter year after year after year, and lovingly does his thing. The sauce is delicious and slightly sweet made with a mixture of fresh and canned tomatoes, and the mozzerella cheese is imported straight from Italy. Each pie is finished with a sprinkling of parmesan and olive oil, and freshly cut basil on top. You've never tried anything like it. This pizza is perfection. 

Atmosphere: Not very comfortable. It's a tiny shop with a few communal and stand alone tables squeezed in. It's fine and you are very lucky just to get a seat, but you're not going to make a date night out of it. 

Health Grade: The health dept website confirms A, but I have my reservations. Still, taste a bite and you won't care. Also, Dom takes the pizza out of the burning hot oven with his hands!

What else should I know? Cash only. The pizza comes out extremely hot, control yourself for one extra minute or you will burn your mouth. They are open for lunch, so that's really your best bet for no wait. Also, at $5 a pop or $28 for a basic pie, it is not cheap. 

Convenience: Not. Your best chance is stopping in for lunch on a random afternoon (they are closed Monday / Tuesday), slightly before or after the lunch rush. You can expect at least a 1 -2 hour wait for pies, and I've never had them answer the phone when I've tried calling.

VERDICT: Delicious and also worth the wait. The atmosphere no doubt is lacking, but the delicious hot steaming pizza more than makes up for it. I also love the hot peppers they keep out on the counter. 

L & B Spumoni Gardens
2725 86th Street between 11th and 12th, Gravesend, Brooklyn. 718-372-8400, 

Pizza: Get the Sicilian. The regualar slice is also very good, but the sicilian is something special. Always fresh and made to order, you can not go wrong. It's not the lightest, so two slices usually does the trick for me (and trust me, I can EAT). 

Atmosphere: The famous red picnic tables are the best way to go (weather permitting). There are some booth seating in the pizzaria, but I always prefer outside. 

Health Grade: A

Convenience: Very easy. There is always parking (and a parking lot!), and there seems to always be a fresh pie just out the oven. There's always ample seating, and they deliver!

What else should I know? There is a restaurant attached. It is not as good as the pizza, and the atmosphere feels kind of like a catering hall, but the artichokes and salads are decent. 

VERDICT: Spumoni is not my favorite, but it makes up on convenience what it loses on the actual pizza. The fact that parking and wait times are not an issue, makes it a great option for local delicious pizza. It's also really kid friendly. And the spumoni ices and creamscicle are delicious! 

What's YOUR favorite local pizza? Comment below & let me know! 

Think there's a great spot that I missed? Email me! I love getting tips...