I've said it before & I'll say it again: Park Slope needs another pizza joint like I need a fucking hole in my head.
As of press time my skull is still intact, even though as of today, Park Slope has another brand new pizza joint: Brooklyn Central. Housed in the spot previously occupied by the short-lived Pete's Pizzeria, they come with the same promise of Neapolitan pizza as Pete's, but with what seems like a better chance of success. I mean, I knew Pete for years because of his original restaurant, Pete's Downtown (RIP), and I think he's a great guy & all, but Pete's Pizzeria was a bit of a mess.
Brooklyn Central is the product of Matthew Hyland & Roberto Patriarca, two dudes who became friends whilst slinging pies at Boerum Hill's Sottocasa. Roberto got his start at his father's pizza spot up in the Bronx, headed to Italy for a while, and then eventually came back to Brooklyn. Matthew grew up in both Brooklyn & Greenwich, CT, eventually settling in Brooklyn as well. When deciding on a locale, the men decided on Park Slope as both live in Brooklyn & felt like our neighborhood fit their collective sensibility. As for the name, it's a nod to the now-defunct train that used to run down 5th Ave back in the day. Did you know there was a train on 5th Ave? I sure as hell didn't.
This past weekend, they invited me by to get a look at the place and, much to my hangover's delight, sample a bunch of pizza. The space has definitely improved, with seating for fifty-four & a cleaner look than before. The seating starts with a few tables in the front, then moves to a bar on the right that leads back to an open kitchen featuring a few seats (for an up-close-and-personal look at the pizza-making process) & and a few more tables along the back left wall leading to the outdoor area, where there’s seating for about forty more.
The main feature of the place is the Stefano Ferrara wood-burning oven, which was brought over from Naples & designed by a dude from Bay Ridge, who created a subway station-esque, tiled "Brooklyn Central" name.
I’ve seen pizza ovens in other places, but the fact that THEIR oven burns at around 1000° F & can cook a pizza in ninety seconds did not cease to amaze me. Fire friggin rules.
The pizza menu is divided into two sections: "Old World" & "New World"-- as a reflection on, respectively, Roberto & Matt's heritages & styles. The Old World pizzas are traditional, Neapolitan-style pizzas, while the New World ones are more creative updates on the style. The duo plans on being local-friendly by getting their meats across the street at M&S, produce from the Grand Army Market and, next year, figs from a tree growing out back.
Now onto the tasting.
They started me off with two from the Old World menu: the DOC & the Biancaneve. The DOC (surprisingly not named for the NWA-affiliated rapper) features basic tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala from Italy & basil. As for the Biancaneve, it's a white pizza made with mozzarella di bufala, fresh cherry tomatoes, basil & sea salt.
Personally, I'm one of those heathens who loves Hawaiian pizza & other pizzas featuring non-traditional ingredients so, going in, I expected to enjoy the New World pizzas more. Turns out that was totally the case. I have no complaints about The DOC ($15) and Biancaneve ($15) though. Both had fresh, simple ingredients & a crust that had a spotty-but-fine char, while still being soft enough to be eaten along with the regular & spicy olive oils they provide with the meal.
Like I said though, the New World pizzas are where it's at.
First up was the Colony, a pie made with fresh Brooklyn mozzarella, tomato sauce, pepperoni, pickled chilies & honey. With hints of spiciness, heat & sweetness, I definitely liked this one. It wasn't my fave though.
That distinction is reserved for The North Maple ($18), a pizza named for the street Matt lived on in Greenwich. It comes topped with La Quercia bacon, smoked mozzarella, pecans & a drizzle of maple syrup (Matt's nod to New England). The bacon was thick & crispy & mixed well with the occasional hint of maple syrup or crunch of pecan. LONG LIVE BACON.
I finished up with the Black Widow ($16), a white pizza built of mozzarella, mushrooms, herbs, scallions & black garlic. Til this weekend, I had no idea such a garlic existed. It's used a bunch in Asian cuisine & apparently they ferment it at high temperatures & it comes out black. The flavor is nothing like I expected, with a sweet, balsamic vinegar taste. Definitely worth checking out.
The rest of the menu includes starters like Oven Roasted Octopus ($12) & desserts like a S'MORES CALZONE ($8) & Pizza Churros ($8). For booze, they're still waiting on their liquor license, but once that goes through, they'll have a bunch of wines (many local) & three rotating beers on tap. For the non-alcoholic set, they'll have coffee from Toby's Estate & teas from Steve Smith.
BREEDER BONUS! They'll do kid's birthday parties, & if your breedling thinks they‘re fuckin' Picasso, there‘s a chalkboard wall near the back. There's even talk of pizza-making classes if your breedling's a budding chef.
Brooklyn Central officially opens tonight at 5PM. The regular routine will be 5PM-10:30PM Sunday-Thursday & 5pm-midnight on Friday-Saturday. Of course, like every other Park Slope place that pops up, they’ll eventually start serving brunch, so there you go...a millionth brunch option.
Also, in closing, please feel free to reference my two uses of the phrase "white pizza" as a "thinly-veiled racist comment." I didn't have time to think one up for y'all haters.
Brooklyn Central, 289 5th Ave. (between 1st and 2nd)
Read way more from Shawn at eatdrinksnack.com & eatdrinktaco.com.