Pizza is the best. I read that on a t-shirt once. I always meant to go back and order myself one. It would be perhaps one of the most honest things I could say about myself. Carbs, cheese, sauce, toppings, crunchiness, and salt, what else could you desire? It is the perfect anytime meal or snack. Sometimes it is both in the same day.
Another good quality about pizza is that there are so many types. You can go to New York City and fold it in half and eat it walking down the street. Or you can go to Chicago and order one that weighs a mere metric ton. I have to admit that I would willingly give my right arm for either at any time.
After deciding which style of pizza you want you have to decide whether you want what I call classic crust or thin crust pizza. In New York Sicilian pizza is also very common and that is very thick. When deciding what kind of crust you want I believe that is the most crucial decision you can make in this food group. It determines how delicate, tender, heavy, or chewy. Although these sound like minor distinctions a true pizza lover will appreciate each in their own ways. It all depends on your mood. Having pizza you are not truly craving won’t hit the spot for me, and if that is the case why bother?
Normally I am not a thin crust pizza fan. It can be dry and if the crust is not properly flavored or cooked it is not something special. I do not want it to taste like frozen pizza unless that is what I am having. However when I find a pizza that breaks out of this mold I am so excited to report my findings.
A couple of weeks ago I had such an experience. Since that was my birthday week I wanted to start my new year off right and tackle something that has been on my restaurant bucket list for quite a while. I will venture to say that has been since 2011 when I read the New York Times review. That Frank Bruni and Co. gets me every time!
Roberta’s is a little gem hidden in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I say hidden gem because if you were to walk by it you would only notice a meager store front with no inkling of the treasures that await you inside. But once inside that intoxicating smell hits you before your eyes ever focus on the site before you.
Roberta’s opened in 2008 and since then has had nothing but stellar reviews. I came for the pizza and the marinated olive appetizer I had read about. But if you are in the mood for something else, just about anything else, you will most likely find it. There are sandwiches a plenty, some served on croissants that I wanted to take out of someone’s hands. There are also an array of salads, pastas, and entrees with the like of lamb and such. I didn’t have time for any of that but I sure could have stayed there all day hanging out and waiting for another course after course. I spent a delightful afternoon there.
When I sat down I ordered the olives and when they arrived I was stunned. They came in a large salad bowl that could have easily served a pound of pasta. I was also brought a smaller cup for the disposal of the pits. How classy, that’s how I roll.
There were so many olives I knew I wouldn’t finish them all but I damn near came close. There were approximately five kinds of olives in both black and green colors and ranging in texture from firm to crinkled. They seemed to be marinated in different oils and spices but I cant be sure which or of what. They perfectly complemented each other and once I popped I surely couldn’t stop.
With only a few minutes between my appetizer and my entrée I didn’t have too much time to wait. I was excited the entire time I was there and it was an environment that supported it. There was a crowd but with people constantly coming in and out I didn’t have to really wait at all. Everyone had their phones out and were taking pictures. I was really among my people. Speaking of which it was an entirely mixed crowd: young, old, tourists, Brooklynites, and just about every ethnicity you can think of. Pizza really is the food for people, any people.
Now on to the headliners of my meal……….
My guest and I ordered two pizzas, one specialty called “lil stinker” which contained tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmigiano cheeses, double garlic, onions, and pepperoncini. The second pizza was a “Margherita with olives (this time the traditional black olives that tasted like they came out of a can).
Each pizza had about six slices and I figure because they are so small one pizza a person is probably what you would need. They are six inch round pizzas that you choose from, either one of the several specialties or you can create your own with the toppings from those listed.
While my beauties were still hot I dug right in. I went with the Margherita pizza first. Boy for a seemingly “plain” pie it was one of the very best things I have ever tastiest. No, seriously. I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was going to be good because I had read too many good reviews for it not to be true. But my God I don’t know what they are doing in that brick oven but it is the work of the Lord, my personal savior indeed.
Then I was time for my lil stinker taste test. Boy does this live up to its name. There was a bit too much pepper on certain pieces but otherwise I couldn’t get enough. The mixture of the cheeses and the kick of the other ingredients created such a unique combination. Just when I was getting it to it the slice disappeared. That’s the funny thing about personal sized pizzas.
I am so glad I tried one of Roberta’s original creations, but I suppose everything that is served is original. I have certainly never had anything close to this food in terms of the freshness and deliciousness. They grow all of the vegetables and herbs on their roof for goodness sakes.
What makes this unlike any place else are the toppings they offer. It’s not just pepperoni or mushrooms. Here at Roberta’s you can choose from original toppings like egg, speck, or chile. It is your chance to go big or go home. For the record I saw someone with the egg and prosciutto (bacon) pizza and it looked amazing. I would definitely be game for that another time.
In the New York Times review “Making the Most of a Stove” written by Sam Sifton, he carefully and truthfully describes the Roberta’s experience from décor to dishes. While he is right that the brick and mortar appearance might not be the most comfortable I think it is still a fun, charming atmosphere. The service is incredible, a fact that Sam and I agree on.
I can now proudly check off numbers two and six off this list (http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2013/11/30/best-pizza-in-america/3785309/) of America’s Best Pizza in America. The only other one in New York is Motorino which I guess I will be visiting in 2015. I would also like to add Artichoke Pizza to that list, another New York City institution that gets a lot of press.
I guess 2015 will be the year of the pizza. Bring it on!
For More Information on Roberta’s:
For More Pizza I Love:
For My Next Pizza Adventures: