pizza

Paulie Gee's - Brooklyn, NY

We have eaten pizza all over New York State and in more than a handful of states around the country.  We have had thin crust, deep dish, brick oven, Sicilian and just about any other type of pizza that is out there.  We have even worked in a pizza place, so we feel we have the credentials to judge any and all pizza.  To have a good pizza it all comes down to using quality ingredients and serving slices fresh.  As we have said in previous posts it is not fair to judge different styles of pizza against each other.  Brick oven pizza can only be judged against other brick oven pizza.  Regular slices can only be judged against other regular slices, and so forth.  You will always see people debate the best pizza in NY and it always seems to be two different styles going head to head.  We like to keep our best pizza in NY claims to specific styles and we think Paulie Geee's has the best brick oven pizza in Brooklyn and possibly the entire city.

Paulie Gee's does not receive the word of mouth and acclaim that NY's famous pizza places get, but it should.  We had never heard of Paulie Gee's until this past summer.  A few friends suggested we go there for dinner one night and we were game.  Those of us who had not been there before were expecting your typical pizza joint in NY.  When we arrived we found out it was actually a brick oven pizza restaurant.  There are a handful of these in Brooklyn, all with varying degrees of pizza quality.  It was not until we looked at the menu that we realized that Paulie Gee's was offering up pies that we have not seen any where before.  These pies were pushing the limits of what toppings you would expect to find on a pizza.  After our first experience we knew we had to take everyone we knew here, and now that we have our blog we needed to share Paulie Gee's with the world.

The Menu:

The first few pies on the menu are very similar to any pie you can find at any other brick oven pizza place. There is the Brian DeParma, a pie topped with Italian Tomatoes and Parmigiano Reggiano.  There is also the Regina, which is topped with Fior di Latte, Italian Tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, Olive Oil and Fresh Basil.  All pretty standard toppings, but after that it starts to get interesting.  Like the Hellboy, topped with Fior di Latte, Italian Tomatoes, Berkshire Sopressata Piccante and Parmigiano Reggiano and Mike’s HOT Honey.  Yes, you read that correctly we said hot honey and we agree it is not often that you seen honey on a pizza.  Then there is the Grapeful Dead, covered in Baby Spinach, Olive Oil, Mild Gouda, Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and Pickled Red Grape Halves.  If those were not interesting enough you can always get the Cherry Jones.  This one is topped with Fior di Latte, Gorgonzola Cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, Dried Bing Cherries and Orange Blossom Honey.  These are just a handful of the interesting pies being created here.  Check out their full menu for more crazy combinations.

What We Ate:

Mexican Cokes

Hellboy - The Delboy (Fior di Latte, Italian Tomatoes, Berkshire Sopressata Piccante and Parmigiano Reggiano)  with Mike’s HOT Honey

King Harry IV - Italian Tomatoes, Provolone, Beef Meatballs or House Made Vegan Fennel Sausage, Sliced Cremini Mushrooms and Golden Raisins

Hellified Porkpie White - Fior di Latte, Berkshire Sopressata Piccante, Sweet Italian Fennel Sausage, Sliced Red Onion, Chopped Fresh Garlic, Fresh Basil and Mike's Hot Honey

Mike's Hot Honey 

There is something about Mexican Cokes that we can't resist.  Some people claim there is no difference between these and regular cokes, but we beg to differ.  We feel that you can really taste the cane sugar as opposed to the high fructose corn syrup that is used in our boring American Cokes.  There is also something about drinking a Coke out of a glass bottle that makes it just a little bit better, we can probably thank marketing for that.  Once we saw them on the menu we had to get one and then about two more while eating.

The first pie listed is the Hellboy, and it is by far our favorite pizza.  The pizza is topped with Fior di Latte, Italian Tomatoes, Berkshire Sopressata Piccante and Parmigiano Reggiano and then drizzled with Mike’s HOT Honey.  Fior di Latte is fancy talk for Mozzarella.  The dough is cooked perfectly, with a slightly crispy bottom and a light and airy crust that retains a small amount of crunch.  The cheese and tomatoes are both fresh and top quality with tons of flavor.  There are two things however that make this pizza one of the best we have ever had.  It starts with the Sopressata Piccante which is an spicy Italian cured meat which provides an intense saltiness and a level of heat to the pie.  Thanks to the oven it even is a bit crispy.  The finishing ingredient is Mike's Hot Honey.  Regular honey would have been interesting enough, but Mike's Hot Honey is infused with chiles which imparts a amazing heat and kick into the honey.  This sweet delicacy combined with the saltiness of the Sopressata and the creaminess of the fresh mozzarella makes this not only one of the best meals we have ever had, but also one of the most unique pizza toppings ever.  It is seriously one of the best usages of sweet and savory flavor combinations we have had in any meal.  It is so addictive that once you have it,  the Hellboy is all you can ever think about.  In fact we are dying to have one right now.

The next pie we ordered was the King Harry IV, it had Italian Tomatoes, Provolone, Beef Meatballs, Sliced Cremini Mushrooms and Golden Raisins.  Like all of their pizzas, the dough was cooked perfectly.  This pie was topped with Provalone cheese which is not often found on pizzas.  It has a nice sharp flavor that worked well with the meatballs.  The meatballs had good flavor and added mounds of salty meat to this pie.  Then for added flavor there are the Cremini mushrooms that got a bit lost in the pie, but were tasty when found.  The pie was finished off with golden raisins, that added little explosions of sweetness.  Everything mixed together formed a very good pizza pie, it does not compare to the Hellboy but it can certainly stand up to any regular pie with ease.

The last pie we ordered was the Hellified Porkpie White.  Hellified of course means they added in our favorite new condiment, Mike's Hot Honey along with more of the Sopressata.  This pie included Fior di Latte, Berkshire Sopressata Piccante, Sweet Italian Fennel Sausage, Sliced Red Onion, Chopped Fresh Garlic, Fresh Basil and Mike's Hot Honey.  We wanted to try the white pie and were rewarded with another amazing pie.  Topped with  two salty meats the Hellified Porkpie White provides a ton of flavor.  The basil adds a nice fresh green and the garlic is not overpowering.  The Hot Honey proves itself again as an invaluable condiment that we now want to put on everything.  Paulie Gee really figured out the key to combining sweet and savory, and kudos for finding a great product like Mike's Hot Honey.  This was our second favorite pie, but again nothing comes close to the Hellboy.  Also, we have had the Cherry Jones in the past and would highly recommend giving it a try as it is another unique offering.

We also wanted to highlight Mike's Hot Honey for a second.  This honey is like nothing we have ever had before.  Honey is traditionally used as a sweetener in dishes since it is naturally sweet and adds its own unique flavor.  Mike's is taking honey one step further by infusing it with chilies.  As a result you get this sweet honey packed with a nice amount of heat that drives your taste buds wild. It is perfectly paired with these pizzas, but we have thought of more than a dozen uses for the honey on it's own.  You can purchase this honey right at Paulie Gee's or order it online at www.mikeshothoney.com.  We didn't buy any while we were there and now we are kicking ourselves, we see an online order in our future and be sure to keep an eye out for how we plan to use it on the blog.  We can specifically see it working with a nice Chicken Biscuit.

Should or Should Not Eat:

Paulie Gee's is making not only traditional brick oven pizza but also some of the most unique brick oven pizzas you can find.  Here you will find pizzas topped with golden raisins, fresh cherries, mounds of arugula and even chile infused honey.  Paulie Gee's is pushing the limits of accepted pizza toppings to the extreme.  As a result you should be pushing the limits of what you expect on your pie.  Paulie Gee's is a Should Eat thanks to their perfectly cooked dough and amazing selection of the most unique ingredients in New York.

Restaurant Information:

Paulie Gee's

Brooklyn, NY: 60 Greenpoint Ave> 347.987.3747

Website: www.pauliegee.com/home.php

Paulie Gee's on Urbanspoon

Fratello - Warwick, New York

Fratellos is a brick oven pizza joint located in Warwick, New York.  Through word of mouth we heard that Fratellos has some pretty good food especially the pizza.  Since we were looking to try a new restaurant we decided to see what they had to offer.

The Menu:

Fratellos menu consisted of exactly the type of food you would expect from a brick oven pizza/Italian restaurant. There was a large selection of appetizers such as baked clams, steamed mussels and fried calamari. They also offer a variety of salads.  Fratellos dinner menu is even larger, offering multiple dishes featuring chicken, fish and pasta. Everything on the menu sounded good but we came for the pizza and there are plenty to choose from. Fratellos has twenty-five different pizzas on the menu. They evem have some pretty unique pizzas like the Fresh Pear & Gorganzola Pizza.  It is topped with fresh sliced pears & tangy Wisconsin gorgonzola on a hearth baked crust with thinly sliced prosciutto & flame roasted walnuts.  We were not feeling that adventurous but we decided to order a few things.

What We Ate:

Honey Pecan Wings:

Pizza a la Vodka: Creamy vodka sauce topped with applewood smoked bacon & homemade mozzarella.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza: Fresh mozzarella & spicy buffalo chicken

We started our meal off with the Honey Pecan Wings.  It turns out they were actually Honey BBQ Pecan Wings, which was different than what we thought we ordered.  We are not sure if we just read the menu wrong or if it really did say Honey Pecan Wings. In any case, there were wings on the table and we were hungry. The first thing you will notice about the wings is that they are drowning in a very thick sauce.  These wings should have been covered in half as much sauce and even then that may have been too much. The sauce was your classic honey bbq sauce, with a sweet but smoky flavor.  It tasted good and mixed well together with the pecans. The wings were cooked perfectly and despite being soaked in sauce still retained the perfect crisp necessary to be a tasty wing.  The wings were also a good size.  Thesy would have been very good if not for the excess amount of sauce. 

For dinner we ordered two types of pizza. The first pie we got was the Pizza a la Vodka. We thought this sounded pretty good, but we were let down. The pizza was cooked nicely in the brick oven forming a tasty crust. The pizza looked great but once we took our first bite, we knew we were not going to be thrilled with this pie. The vodka sauce did not taste very much like vodka sauce. It actually tasted more like a regular tomato sauce. The other issue we had was the usage of bacon. We want to make one thing clear, we love bacon.  We come from the school of thought that bacon makes everything better (well almost).

Our problem in this case however was that we didn't order a bacon pizza, we ordered a Pizza a la vodka. We were served a Pizza a la Vodka but it tasted like a bacon pizza. This is because there was a generous amount of bacon on our pizza. Bacon is a very strong ingredient and if not used properly it can take over an entire dish with its deliciously smoky flavor. Unfortunately for us this is exactly what happened, the bacon invaded our taste buds and that was all we could taste.  In our opinion the Pizza a la Vodka would have worked better if it had been topped with chicken instead of bacon.

The second pizza we ordered was the Buffalo Chicken Pizza. This pizza looked awesome, so it was even more depressing when we grabbed the first slice. You can't see from the angle of our picture but the entire pie was not cooked.  On the outside it looked done, but the inside was still doughy and soft. We ate one slice and that was all. The chicken was cooked well and the pie had good flavor thanks to the buffalo hot sauce. It was not busy in the restaurant so for the pizza to be this under cooked was very surprising.  The pizza had plenty of potential but fell short due to execution. 

Should Or Should Not Eat: 

Fratellos has a good reputation and perhaps we caught them on a bad night but for us they are a Should Not Eat.  The food was just ok and being served under cooked pizza really ruined our meal.  Fratellos does have potential but they may need to take another look at their recipes and make some slight adjustments.  We will not be going back anytime soon though.

Restaurant Information:

Fratello

Warwick, NY: 22 Spring Street  > 845.986.7898

Website: www.fratellobrickoven.com/

Fratellos on Urbanspoon

L & B Spumoni Gardens - Brooklyn, NY

 

Welcome to one of our favorite places to eat in all of New York City. L & B Spumoni gardens is often referred to as just Spumoni or Spumoni Gardens. While they are now famous for their pizza, Spumoni Gardens got it's start selling spumoni out of a horse drawn wagon.   Spumoni Gardens was started by Ludovico Barbati, he came to the United States in 1917, from Torella Di Lombardi, Italy. He learned to make spumoni and began to sell it up and down the streets of Gravesend & Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

All of this spumoni talk may have you confused, especially if you do not know what spumoni is.  Spumoni is an Italian dessert made up of layers of molded ice cream. Traditionally flavors include cherry, pistachio chocolate and vanilla.

In 1939, Ludovico, Sr. decided he needed a place to make his Spumoni and bought a plot of land in Brooklyn and built their first building to be their factory.  People began to line up at the factory to get spumoni and that is when they realized they would need to build a sit down area for customers.In the mid 1950's L & B Spumoni Gardens built the second building, which is now the Pizzeria. Then progressively, though the years the third building was added, it became their luncheonette.  When you go to Spumoni today you can still see the 3 different buildings that comprise L & B Spumoni Gardens.

While they have tons of things to offer, we went to Spumoni to get some of their famous Sicilian style pizza.

The Menu:

The beauty of Spumoni Gardens is how basic the pizza menu is.  Pizza is the only thing they sell in this section of Spumoni Gardens is, so orders go quickly. You can order slices or whole pies but you will have to choose between traditional round pizza or their famous Sicilian. We have never gotten the traditional slice but we hear it is very good.  For us if you are going to Spumoni Gardens the only thing you can buy is the Sicilian pizza. You may think one or two slices of Sicilian pizza will be enough for you, but trust us you will want more. 

What We Ate:

Sicilian Pizza - Lots of it

We are not even sure words can do this pizza justice, but we will try.  Pizza is a simple meal consisting of three main things dough, sauce and cheese. You start with the dough, add the sauce and then top it all with cheese. Here at Spumoni they change those rules a bit. They start with the dough, then add the mozzarella and top it off with tomato sauce and a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano cheese. It is this method that sets their Sicilian slice apart from any that we have ever had.

Adding the layer of cheese before the sauce is a game changer. It creates a layer of protection for the dough keeping the sauce from soaking in.  It also adds this amazing texture in the middle of the pizza, which creates one of the four layers that makes this pizza so good. The first layer of goodness is the sauce. Made from San Marzano tomatoes, the sauce is naturally sweet and made fresh. Next comes the cheese which we have already mentioned above. The third layer is the soft airy dough in between the cheese and crust. The dough has great flavor and is not as dense as many other Sicilian pizzas. Here it is very light which allows you to eat as many slices as you like. The final layer is the crispy layer on the bottom of the pizza thanks to the tray. It creates this crispy golden brown crust that gives the slices enough support to be picked up. Every other layer in this pizza is very soft so the bottom layer helps to bring in that needed crunch.

When these four layers come together in each bite it is just so good. Our favorite part is the gooey center created by the cheese and dough. It provides a unique texture and gives the pizza a unique sensation when bitten into. Everything about this pizza is so good that you can't resist eating slice after slice.  When we go now we don't even bother order 2 or 3 slices we just order a half or full sheet. We may not eat it all there but leftovers are no problem. You will be surprised at how many slices you can eat.  This pizza also reheats perfectly losing none of its glory in the fridge, which is why the leftovers do not last very long. You may however find that this pizza is amazing cold also.  No matter how you like your pizza, spumoni will not disappoint. 

Check out this video from the TV Show,  Man Vs. Food

Should Or Should Not Eat: 

L & B Spumoni Gardens is a Should Eat. It is the best Sicilian slice of pizza you will ever have, we promise. It is worth the drive and the wait any time of year.  Some quick tips when eating at Spumoni, have part of your group secure a table while the other half orders the pizza.  Order more slices than you expect to eat, you will thank us. Get napkins it can get messy especially when eating the middle slices with no crust. 

Restaurant Information:

L & B Spumoni Gardens

Brooklyn, NY: 2725 86th Street  > 718.449.1230

Website: www.spumonigardens.com

L & B Spumoni Gardens on Urbanspoon