Somehow when out-of-towners drop into New York they tend to fall into the pattern of automatically visiting the icons that are found in guide books and travel websites. Staten Island Ferry … pretzels & hotdogs … Empire State Building … Katz’s Deli … the list goes on.
New York is famous for its pizza and somehow many of its visitors flock to the street vendors for those massive slices of pizza – or inevitably it’s Grimaldi’s Pizzeria that gets their custom. I didn’t try any of those $1 pizza slices as many of them looked barely edible as they sat beneath heat lamps drying to a greasy crisp, and as for Grimaldi’s, well, just because it’s famous does it necessarily mean it’s the city’s best? I didn’t bother trying to find out. Maybe next time.
In my online search for the style of pizza that I prefer I found this joint in the East Village that seemed to tick all of the boxes. Off the tourist trail. Crispy yet chewy base. Gorgeous blackened bubbles on the crust. Not drowning in cheese. Some people even declared it as the city’s best. Let’s give it a burl.
One thing for sure is that on our first visit to Motorino, yes there was a second, we were damn lucky to have got the table when we did. Within minutes after we took our seat the entire place filled with hungry punters with a growing line of people at the door.
It’s a small place, very dim on the night-time lighting and the menu is just the size where you’re bound to find something you want. Order a bunch of antipasti to kick things off, or as in our case, jump right in and order one pizza each. Yup, they’re big enough for one if you’re hungry. Just.
Brussels sprouts on a pizza may sound a little odd to some but to me it was the attraction. I hardly ever eat them but when I do I love them. Brussels sprouts, fior di latte, pecorino and smoked pancetta ($16). Gosh. And just look at that bubbly crust. Now this is what I call pizza. Love your thin crispy bases? Then don’t bother going to Motorino.
The crust here has substance, chewy texture with a slight crunch. The charred bits add more flavour and the toppings aren’t overdone. Loved it. We did have another pizza – a margherita – but the photo was so dark it ended up on the cutting room floor, so to speak.
We loved the pizza so much that we just had to return a few days later for lunch and this time ordered the sopressatta piccante ($16) with fior di latte, tomato, chilli flakes & garlic. Good lord these things were good. A slurp of sugary root beer and I was in pizza nirvana. Order a marinara anything in Australia and you get a mixture of seafood in your pasta sauce or pizza topping.
Anywhere else and its a simple tomato sauce with onion, garlic and herbs, just as Italy intended. The marinara ($9) here is that gorgeous pizza base topped with tomato, oregano, red onion and olive oil. Add a can of pork slap, that would be the beer, and it’s a mighty fine way to spend the early afternoon in the East Village.
Best pizza in New York? Who knows. But it was the best pizza I’ve had for some years.
Motorino – 349 E 12th St, East Village