RestoReview: Roberta’s Pizza

Dear Friends & Eaters,

When I told a coworker I was going to Bushwick, he asked me “what are YOU doing there?”. Well aside from the fact that I do go to Brooklyn every now and again, I have a friend Amalia Piccinini who is a painter and her studio is located in Bushwick.  So when she invited me to see her latest paintings Kurt and I decided to make it a day trip and have lunch there too. Amalia suggested that we grab a bite at Roberta’s, a local pizzeria and artist hangout that is famous for its outdoor space great food and live music at night.  We visited at lunch time during the holidays, so the live music and outdoor space were not in the picture. What was in the picture was great food and a welcoming, fun and inviting ambiance.

Roberta’s is charming and bohemian, urban and rustic with communal tables and lively chatter.  We sat at a long wooden table next to a lively and friendly couple. My friend Tommy immediately started asking them what they were having because it looked very good.  We took some of the suggestions and ordered appetizers first: a beat salad with caviar, some roasted carrots with creamy polenta and a poached egg and a brussels sprouts salad.  The appetizers were delicious: the salads well were well balanced and not overly dressed, the roasted carrots and polenta were quite a surprise. I never thought that carrots and polenta would go together, but it turns out they really complement each other.

And now the pizza.  Roberta’s does not serve the traditional neapolitan pizza but a version that is between Neapolitan and Roman.  The difference? It’s all in the dough! Neapolitan pizza has larger air bubbles in the dough, so when it cooks the outside texture is more uneven but the crust is quite chewy inside. Roman pizza has less air bubbles in the dough, so the cooked version is more uniform in texture but also crunchier.  I would rank Roberta’s dough right in between these two types. I thought the toppings were great too. Aside from the traditional margherita we also tasted a pizza with speck (smoked prosciutto) and a special of the day, the Rupture, with bur rata, kale and (again) speck.  All pizzas had high quality and toppings generous.

The New York Times said in 2011 that “what began as a pizzeria in Bushwick is now one of the more extraordinary restaurants in the United States. ” I think this statement is a BIT exaggerated, however I really enjoyed my day trip and look forward to visit my friend Amalia and her favorite pizza place, Roberta’s, in the spring and summer when the garden is open.