Lucali Pizzeria: The first thing that hits you is the smell; the aroma of baking bread permeates the air from a block away; flames licking at dough rolled so thinly you wonder how it doesn’t slip through into the fire of the wood burning oven, the lighting is dim, the air is warm, and Frank Sinatra is quietly crooning in the background, lulling you into a dreamlike state. Suddenly, the aggressive hostess jolts you awake by informing you that the wait is an hour. You are snapped back to reality for the hour that you traipse around Carroll Gardens, procuring the cash and the bottle of wine you forgot to bring, all the while itching to get back to that really great dream you were just having.
The menu is simple: there is none. Choose your toppings, and wait to be wrapped in a warm pizza hug. The hardest decision you will make all night is whether or not to order a calzone (do; you will not be disappointed, especially when you see that it is accompanied by a large bowl of marinara sauce). When it arrives, you are shocked and awed that three simple ingredients, dough and ricotta and mozzarella, can band together to create such a perfect union of an appetizer. You will have to remind yourself not to gobble the whole thing in one fell swoop, as there is more to come.
The main course smells as good as you thought it would be, and the pepperoni is REAL salami and not the thin slabs of mystery meat found at pizzerias that advertise a dollar slice. The mushrooms are freshly sliced portabellas and not the sliced button mushrooms you always regret putting in your salad. The crust has a slight char but isn’t enveloped in blackness. The cheese is flavorful without being overwhelming. You keep the bowl of sauce for dipping your crust, and the fresh bunches of basil that comes complimentary are artfully placed around the pizza. You devour one slice, and then another. You’re wondering if three is overkill, and you can’t remember the last time you were this happy.
So believe the hype. Trust in Jay-Z and Beyonce, who unfortunately did not make an appearance on a recent Monday evening when we were there. Trust in owner Mark Iacono, who presides over the dining room like a judge over his courtroom, monitoring every ingredient and every table. Bring cash and your own booze, and a healthy appetite, because Lucali’s is not to be missed.
575 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY