Despite being effectively “retired” from pizza blogging, I still get an email here and there asking for pizza-crawl itinerary advice. These emails are usually from longtime Slice readers who remember me from back in the day and are HARDCORE WILLING to travel for pizza. I love these people, because I can send them to places I really love, AND THEY WILL GO — at least I assume they will. Earlier this year I got a couple requests in quick succession for suggestions as to a quick 1-day itinerary in Brooklyn. Thus my MINI ONE-DAY PIZZA TOUR OF WILLIAMSBURG–GREENPOINT, below. It is roughly copy-pasted from emails, so bear with the tone that suggests I’m writing to someone — I was! This is structured as a walking tour, and I assume you have a smartphone for guidance. Let’s go…
[NOTE: Items in italics placed between horizontal rules are OPTIONAL (but highly recommended) nonpizza stops.]
START AT MOTORINO WILLIAMSBURG (139 Broadway, Brooklyn NY 11211; opens at 11am) — It opens at 11am. That might be too early, so maybe wait till noon. I’ll leave it up to you, but do see the note on timing at the bottom. Great lunch special (though the clam pie is not subject to the lunch special). I’m partial to the brussels sprout pizza, especially if you’re visiting NYC and won’t be back. It’s kinda their signature pie. From there, go to…
WILLIAMSBURG PIZZA (265 Union Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211) — It’s 15 minutes away by foot, in fact most of these places are 15 to 30 minutes apart. The walking goes fast if you’re with a friend. Williamsburg is killing it on all fronts — regular round pies and their squares. Since fall is approaching as I write this, I’ll recommend the Apple Bacon grandma slice, if they have it ready. The Kale Tallegio is also good, and you can’t go wrong with the plain versions of any of their slices. SO GOOD.
With any pizza crawl, I think it’s important to space things out and allow time to digest. Therefore, I am going to send you to BARCADE® (bar+arcade=WIN) to play some old-school videogames and maybe drink a beer or two. It’s a tiny, tiny bit out of the way, but not much, and I’m assuming you’re doing this on a weekend, so what else do you have going on? I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to do Barcade® (388 Union Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211) between Motorino/Williamsburg or between Williamsburg and…
BEST PIZZA (33 Havermeyer Street, Brooklyn NY 11211) — Walk to Best from either Barcade® or Williamsburg Pizza (whatever order you decided). I’ll leave it up to you as to what to get, because you can’t go wrong with anything. The regular slices are good, the grandma slices may be even better — and the grandma with pickled vegetable is an unexpected hit. The crazy thing is that I may like their sandwiches even more than the pizza, they are THAT GOOD. The Italian combo and the meatball hero are my favorites. Maybe get one for the road? Next…
PARK LUNCHEONETTE (332 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222) — This place is really cute. It’s a former corner diner that some new-era Brooklyn kids took over and partially renovated into a kind of French café–inspired space. You’ll walk in and kinda be like, WHA?! This ain’t a pizzeria. But there’s pizza. And it is GOOD. For me at this moment it’s up there with Williamsburg Pizza as far as classic NY-style pizza goes. Note: Whole pies only, UNLESS you eat at the bar, where you can get slices. Still hungry? Well…
Update, 12/1/2017: Park Luncheonette closed November 5, 2017. What a loss. It served some great pizza, and the atmosphere was so cute.
PETER PAN DONUTS (727 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222) is a good place to hit. OMG, I LOVE these doughnuts. I’m not a doughnut person, either. If it’s still on the earlier side of the afternoon, you’ll have some choice. If it’s later in the afternoon, the selection can get pretty sparse. Again, if you’re not hungry, grab some to go — especially if you won’t be back here anytime soon. Eat them as a midnight snack. … Or bring one to Paulie Gee and tell him I sent you, lol.
BROUWERIJ LANE (78 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222) — Again, either use this as time to digest before going to Paulie Gee’s OR as a place to wait for your table at Paulie’s if there’s a crowd ahead of you. Paulie would probably kill me for saying that, since he would prefer you drink HIS beer while you wait — which you SHOULD, but if that’s not an option, then Brouweij Lane is a sweet spot to kill some time. TONS of great beers on tap and in the cooler. Really relaxing casual space that feels like a mini beer hall. It’s nice in summer, with a mini garden out back, and in fall and winter, there’s a wood-burning stove that makes it feel especially cozy. Before I started stopping here after a prep shift, I just assumed it was a pretentious beer-snob place, but it is ANYTHING BUT. It’s a real gem.
PAULIE GEE’S (60 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222; opens at 5pm on weekends) — I’m going to have to admit my bias upfront. I’ve been moonlighting at Paulie’s for more than a year now, learning the ropes of the pizza business. So obviously I’m biased — but… I wouldn’t be working there if I didn’t believe in the pizza and the pizzeria itself. And, really, pretty much anyone in their right mind would put Paulie Gee’s on a pizza tour of Williamsburg-Greenpoint. Paulie’s will likely be crowded on a weekend, and I’ll talk about timing a bit below, but for now I’ll just recommend my favorite pizzas there. I particularly like the Brian DeParma. It’s just sauce and shaved Parmesan. It sounds super minimal, but I love it. The only way to improve it in my book is to make it into the “Famous Original A,” which is the pizza I created there that is on the “secret menu.” Ask for it. It’s the Brian DeParma with Romano, sausage, and onion added. Beyond those, I LOVE the Monte Cristo (gouda, Canadian bacon, a post-oven drizzle of maple syrup), the Hellboy (sauce, Parm, mozzarella, soppressata, Mike’s Hot Honey), and, for something completely different, the Cherry Jones (mozzarella, gorgonzola, dried cherries, prosciutto, honey). The Greenpointer (mozzarella, arugula, post-oven drizzle of lemon juice, shaved Parmesan) is also excellent and is one of Paulie’s signature pizzas as well as a great vegetarian choice. I could write more, but I don’t want to make this an advertisement for Pauile’s, lol.
SUNSHINE LAUNDROMAT & PINBALL (860 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222; 7am–2am) — You could do this after Paulie’s or before. Really depends on how much time you have to kill waiting for your table and/or whether you want to spend that time at Brouerij Lane or not. Also depends on how much room you have in your stomach. If you’re still pretty full and it’s pushing 7pm, you might want to kill a lot of time at Sunshine and hit Paulie’s closer to 9:30 or 10pm. Granted, there’s Roberta’s Pizza at the Sunshine, so you may end up eating there and blowing your appetite, but, you know, it’s your life and your prerogative. Just giving you another option.
So, a note on timing this thing. You can power through this or do it leisurely. It’s up to you. In my mind, I would do it leisurely. At a leisurely pace, I’m making the following assumptions:
- You’re doing this on a weekend, preferably Saturday
- You’ll spend 1 hour at each stop
- You’re including the optional stops
- 20-minute walks between each stop: Some may be longer or shorter, but 20 minutes on average is probably good, assuming you’ll be lollygagging and/or Instagramming along the way or whatever it is you do
If you want to power through this, walk quickly and study the menus beforehand so you’ll know what you want to order. You can also safely cut off a half hour from each slice shop (Williamsburg Pizza, Best Pizza).
At Paulie Gee’s, the last stop, you’ll likely get a table if you make it there by 5, 5:30pm (YMMV, and it’s hit or miss — some days it fills up right away, sometimes people don’t rush it until an hour into service). If not, wait until later in the evening. Consider spending time at Brouerij Lane and/or the Sunshine Laundromat, as mentioned above. Also, TRANSMITTER PARK (on the East River at the end of Greenpoint Avenue) is a really nice way to kill some time looking at the sunset and/or the lights of Manhattan’s skyline.
Here is a map of the entire route: bit.ly/williamsburg-greenpoint-pizzacrawl
There are some notable omissions here, namely FORNINO (291 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211), which I love but which would make you veer several blocks west from the Union Avenue path I’m setting out here. I also waffled a lot on whether I should put FORCELLA (485 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn NY 11211) on here. It is just a block off the Union Avenue path, which isn’t too far, but the pizza I would recommend there, the montanara, can be a gutbuster. If you think you have room for it (it’s deep-fried then wood-fired), GO FOR IT. Same with Fornino. If you’re putting Sunshine Laundromat at the end of your trip, you could continue on to Fornino after that, and you’d almost be making a circle back to where you started at Motorino.