Stroll into any pizzeria in New York Metropolis, with just a few well-known exceptions, and you may order along with your eyes closed: A skinny-crust cheese slice is inevitable, a Sicilian or grandma slice is probably going, an all-cheese white pie is possible. There will certainly be pepperoni, and since many homeowners purchase from the identical suppliers, the pepperoni you get within the Bronx this week won’t be noticeably totally different from the pepperoni you had in Queens final week.
Most pizzerias are like cowl bands. Some rock tougher than others, however they play the identical requirements. Sometimes, although, a kind of bands begins to write down its personal songs.
That was the story of Di Fara Pizza in Midwood, which seemed to be a street-corner slice joint however was so punctilious about substances and proportions that it kicked off a slice-joint renaissance round New York Metropolis. Now it appears to be the story of Lucia Pizza of Avenue X, a four-month-old store in Sheepshead Bay.
You could possibly simply mistake Lucia for an abnormal Brooklyn slice joint that’s been round eternally, if not for the recent paint on the 2 indicators above the door — one reveals the crossed flags of Italy and america; the opposite invitations prospects to “Come by & choose up your pie!”
About 20 seats are scattered round a easy eating room. Reverse the door is the kitchen, with basic Bakers Delight fuel ovens in stainless-steel and cardboard pizza bins stacked to the ceiling. Constructed into the counter at knee degree is a self-service beverage fridge whose stock means that anyone at Lucia is keen on cherry soda.
However you recognize that Lucia has strayed from the slice-shop template once you step as much as the counter and are handed the “spring menu.” It’s roughly twice so long as the skeletal “winter welcoming menu” that was in impact when the place first opened. In fact, the longer record continues to be considerably aspirational. After I tried ordering the cudduruni, a Sicilian flatbread, I used to be advised, “We’re not able to serve that one but.”
New York’s Excellent Meals: The Pizza Slice
There is no such thing as a culinary expertise that New Yorkers share extra extensively and extra unanimously than the slice joint.
Other than this little bit of vaporware, the menu’s pleasures are actual. One white pie, the salsiccia, is unfold with clean white islands of whipped ricotta surrounded by pork sausage that’s been roasted into crisp brown pebbles — not the same old grey marbles that roll off the crust once you choose it up. Scattered over this are recent parsley and candy purple onions shaved skinny sufficient to wilt within the oven. Bits of oil-cured Calabrian chiles are spooned over the floor, too, although you might not discover them till their warmth makes your eyes go extensive.
A variation on the theme of pork and peppers happens within the caramelle piccanti pie. That is constructed on the usual mattress of tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella. Their temperature is raised by pickled cherry peppers and some squeezes of Mike’s Sizzling Honey, a bottle of which is saved on the counter for patrons to use at their very own discretion. The pork is within the type of small pepperoni slices which have turn out to be concave, like contact lenses, throughout baking.
Pizza cognoscenti will acknowledge these as “roni cups,” a trademark of neoclassical slice outlets equivalent to Paulie Gee’s, Mama’s Too and different pizzerias in west Brooklyn and Manhattan. Although the cups’ popularity has been spreading, it’s nonetheless a minor shock to seek out them pooled with spicy orange oil just a few blocks from the Belt Parkway.
Sheepshead Bay isn’t precisely a stronghold of clam pizza, both, however Lucia may make it one. On Fridays, Lucia bakes a clam pie that’s distinct from the New Haven model. In Connecticut, the clams are laid down instantly on the dough, however Lucia rests them on a mattress of melted mozzarella. New Haven customized additionally calls for uncooked garlic; in Sheepshead Bay the garlic is poached in olive oil till golden, then simmered rapidly with chopped recent cherrystones, white wine and butter. This sauce is actually what will get tossed with linguine at 100 Italian eating places round city. It makes a gently comforting pizza, even whether it is no match for the bare energy of the pies at Zuppardi’s Apizza.
Lucia is a brand new pizzeria, nonetheless discovering its method. I hope ultimately one thing may be performed concerning the crust. It has been engineered for crispness, and it’s satisfying to chunk. It’s much less satisfying to chew; the flavour is flat and bland, with out the depth that the very best pizzerias induce of their dough.
I think about the dough is being tinkered with, given all the opposite indicators that Lucia shouldn’t be content material filling its kitchen with merchandise purchased in closeout gross sales at Acme Pizza Provide. The tomato sauce tastes recent and shiny, not bitter or sugary. Recent white mushrooms are cooked and cooked till they style darkish and meaty. That whipped ricotta actually is sweet. Then there are the torn basil leaves tossed on the pies once they depart the oven, together with high quality threads of grated pecorino. These are the touches that raise up even the only gadgets at Lucia, just like the basic New York slice and the margherita, with its recent mozzarella organized over the sauce in concentric rings.
The writer of all these pies is Salvatore Carlino, Lucia’s proprietor. He grew up on this neighborhood of squat brick rowhouses and extensive again alleys. For greater than 40 years, his dad and mom ran Papa Leone, an Italian restaurant hooked up to a pizzeria on the principle drag in close by Manhattan Seaside, the place he used to assist out. The Papa Leone at Lucia is a vodka-sauce pie produced from his father’s recipe.
Below the identify P.leone, Mr. Carlino has one other profession as a musician, producer and D.J. (He has stated that his music sounds “like a Brooklyn sure Q prepare, packed and with a great deal of delays. A bit inconvenient however enjoyable.”) He was working in Berlin till the pandemic pressured him to maneuver again house to Brooklyn.
With no golf equipment to play, he crammed his hours baking pizza in an out of doors oven. The caramelle piccanti was born in his yard. Sooner or later a vacant restaurant house appeared on Avenue X. He leased it and began a brand new undertaking: the outdated household tune, remixed.
What the Stars Imply Due to the pandemic, eating places are usually not being given star scores.
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