“Brooklyn!??” I exclaimed. “Don’t we have enough Pizzerias in Manhattan? What’s wrong with the Pizza place on the corner?” In a last-ditch effort to stay local, I whined, “But, why do we have to schlep all the way over the bridge?”
My husband had his heart set on dining at the semi- famous Lucali’s. “But, I told Mark we were coming and he told me that he would hold a table for us.” My husband recently befriended Mark – the owner of Lucalis, and based on this new relationship, my husband has been obsessing over “pizza” this past week.
The reason was made clear by the long line outside this small nondescript storefront on a quiet street in Carroll Gardens. There are no reservations taken and waits can average as long as 45 minutes.
As we were ushered in, we were welcomed to a warm and cozy room with well worn walls glowing with that “old school” patina. There are no more than 20 odd tables crowded into the room. In the rear center of the room was the “kitchen” where all the magic took place. Balls of dough were resting on the white marble slab which functioned as the prep station. A few feet away the brick pizza oven was ablaze.
There is no menu at Lucalis, which is fine because if there was a menu, there would only be 2 items on it…Pizza and Calzones. Thats it. No starters, no salads, no sides, no desserts. Further, they do not have a liquor license so its BYOB. They do offer a 1/2 dozen toppings to customize your pizza but other than the toppings, that is about how extensive the non-menu would be. So why are so many people willing to schlep all the way to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and wait for just pizza and/or calzones?
The answer is obvious as soon as you take a bite. Each pizza is individually prepared with the perfect amount of fresh mozzarella, basil and homemade tomato sauce. We ordered our pie with fresh pepperoni, garlic and peppers. Just a few minutes after placing our order, the hot piping pizza came ceremoniously to our table. In a word the pizza was …. DELICIOUS. Perfectly sauced with just the right amount of homemade tomato sauce. The crust was thin and crispy but still had a nice “doughiness” to it. The fresh homemade cheese was lightly salted and savory. The half-dozen basil leaves scattered on top of the pie was the perfect accent to this arguably perfect pie.
Even though one pizza split between the 2 of us was more than enough, we did schlep all the way to Brooklyn and felt, “when in Rome… ” So, we ordered the other item on the non-existent menu – a calzone.
About a foot long in length stuffed with fresh ricotta and mozzarella, this calzone could easily feed a family of four. A small bowl of tomato sauce with a few leaves of fresh basil was the only accoutrement. The calzone was delicious but I still preferred the pizza.
When we left the restaurant, the line was even longer than when we arrived. As we were crossing Brooklyn Bridge back home to Manhattan I leaned back in the taxi, rubbed my extremely satisfied tummy and sighed contentedly to my husband, “You know, that wasn’t such a schlep after all.”
Chow for now!