|319 Graham Ave between Ainslie St & Devoe St
Been hearing a lot about Motorino lately – not that it’s new, but there’s been a stretch where you couldn’t turn on a foodie show without seeing a feature on the place. Sure it’s been racking up all sorts of awards lately – some calling it the best pizza in the city, which are some high praises for a restaurant to live up to. But we were also hearing first hand praises – one of K’s friends travels to the Williamsburg outpost at least once a week – sometimes twice – from Carol Gardens, which may not be the longest commute for a favorite food, but for a 40 minute door-to-door trip I would need the food to blow me away for a weekly visit.
So on a recent Friday we made out way out to the Graham Avenue stop on the L and it being just before 8, were expecting to put our names on the list and then wait. But in the first surprise of the evening – there was a table for two open and we were seated immediately. We had a front row view of the pizza oven, which at first I thought would be a major drawback given the heat a brick oven gives off – but again, I was surprised. There was no wash of heat coming from the kitchen – just the alluring smell of fresh pizza as the staff quickly rushed out the orders.
The room was loud – I could clearly hear three separate conversations around the room, but barely hear our server, who was very friendly and attentive, as she read off the specials. Thankfully – they were posted on the wall as well. The crowd was mixed – there were some obvious tourists – complete with the golf shirt and matching Greg Norman hat – which had probably seen Rachel Ray recommend the place so they traveled to – oh-my-goodness, Brooklyn. Such an adventure! The rest of the crowd was split between families – complete with strollers – and then locals, comparing war stories of the summer so far. My favorite character was the guy in a full tux standing by the bar, eating his pie and enjoying a martini.
We studied the menu and agreed that we were going to be pigs and order our own pies – K had been dying to try the Brussels Sprouts pizza, which I really did not need to try. We told ourselves that we could always bring the leftovers home – denying from the outset that we would most likely eat the entire pie. We placed our order and added a plate of olives as we were hungry and figured that we’d have to wait a few minutes to get our pie.
I really wanted to order one of the special appetizers – either the Meatballs, served fresh from the crackpot and looked so delicious, or the roasted corn, which was charred on the cob in the pizza oven and then sprinkled with cheese and herbs. Both looked out of this world, but knowing that I was about to eat an entire pie I figured to save myself some embarrassment. And for the third time, I was surprised. The pizza came out fast – within five minutes we were served our beautiful, fresh and oh so tempting individual pies.
I ordered the Soppressata – a spicy combination of soppressata, mozzarella, rough-chopped garlic and chiles. The pizza is Neapolitan style – super-thin crust that is more of a flatbread than what most would expect from a pizza crust. The sides were not pressed down and puffed up into mini-crusty mountains that ringed the cheesy/meaty goodness on the inside. I pulled out my first slice and with anticipation raised it to take my first bite. It was very good – didn’t blow me away, but the slightly sweet sauce found its way to the front of my first bite, which was quickly pushed out of the way by the spiciness of the soppressata.
I wish I had opted for the Bufula Mozzarella instead of sticking with the Fior di Latte, which was a little bland and got lost in the other flavors of the pie. Also – the crust was a tad too chewy for me – especially in the first bite, which of course was from the center of the pie, which tends to be soggy in Neapolitan pies. There are a number of negative posts in the cyber-foodie-world about this – but really, it’s just the center of the pie. Once you make your way back to the thicker part of the pie the sogginess disappears.
K was in pizza heaven – the Brussels Sprout pizza had lived up to her expectations. Though I’m not a huge fan of foods that are green – especially Brussels Sprouts – the pie looked amazing – served with Pancetta (which I happily gobbled up as she picked them off her pie) garlic, mozzarella and Parmigianino Reggiano (K’s version of the pie had the cheese removed…). I can see why veggie lovers would dive into this pizza.
Of course we each finished our pies – I felt slightly piggy but still managed to down the last remaining bits of pancheta and the last of the briny olives. K happily declared this was the best pizza she had ever had – which I suspect had something to do with the Brussels Sprouts. I agreed that it was very good and I have a hard time thinking of a pie that would top it, though it’s been a while since I’ve made it over to Spring and Mott – I may be due for a visit while Mottorino’s is still fresh on my lips to compare. I will definitely return to Graham Avenue for a repeat appearance – may try to score a seat in the backyard, which looked absolutely relaxing, even on a warm summer night.