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Motorino Pizza on Graham

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Went to Motorino for a pie this afternoon. This is a new wood burning oven place on Graham a couple of blocks south of Metropolitan. Ordered 2 magherrita with water buffalo mozzarella. The sauce was nice with good tomatoes and the cheese excellent.. All the ingredients were top notch but the crust left me wanting. Very chewy without as much airiness on the inside or crust on the outside as I would like and not very much flavor. I think they both needed to cook a little longer and that might have been part of the issue (the owner was cooking fwiw). Since the place is only open a couple of weeks I think it is worth trying again. If you are always looking to have new and better pizza, it is worth trying for sure.

I feel it is on the expensive side. $14 each for the pies I ordered which was 12" maybe 13" round.

Looks like Slice is reporting it as excellent. So as with all things pizza, opinions vary. Here is a link for those who are interested.

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  1. The price doesn't seem out of line. Especially for a pizza with high quality ingredients and mozzarella di bufala. In Brookyn $14 would be in line with what Fornino and Marco Polo would charge for the same pie. Franny's bufala pie is around $16. And of course Una Pizza Napoletana in Manhattan is around $22.

    I think in the best of circumstances it takes time and constant care to get an artisanal wood oven pizza just right. Even then variables such as oven temperature (wood ovens often get too hot or cold) and the atmospheric conditions (requires adjustments to dough) make it very difficult to get a consistent product.

    If they are using part of the previous batch of dough rather than yeast it may take a bit of time before the dough gets a really nice and complex flavor.

    In any event a major key would be an owner who is making the pizza himself or at the very least takes a very keen interest in how it is being prepared. If this is the case at Motorino, as you have indicated it is, it bodes well for the place.

    I am looking forward to giving it a try soon.

    2 Replies
    1. re: boccalupo

      Based off a standard margherita, Motorino is a couple of dollars more than Fornino and they don't offer the 'value' priced larger pie size. EDIT - I looked at the DOC pie price and as you stated the two are right in line. So your point is well taken.

      Yes, I think you bring up some very good points. Especially today with it being soo rainy and cool out, that must make consistency more difficult. Motorino has a very promising future if it gets better as they get older. Watching, I could see the passion in the owners face as he worked, so I think getting better with experience is a safe bet.

      1. re: dhs

        Their pizzas are in the Pizza Fresca near soft crust strictish Neo style. I had the magherrita made with regular mozzarella at $10.00 and a tri color salad for $7.00. excellent salad, fresh crisp greens and reds, well chosen olive oil, the pleasure of the simple food. The pizza was great, to me better than Fresca and much better than Una or Otto. The crust a touch of crisp on the very bottom that dissolved as I ate. Thinking about it after on the walk home, the baked crust's flavor, the right salt balance and a sauce with enough zing to compliment the cheese seemed to be factors for happy success. At ten dollars for the regular pie the price seemed ok for what was delivered in size and quality.

    2. Maybe I am missing something. I went yesterday, and the 2 pies we shared reminded me of pita bread. No flavor. I had to put so much olive oil on the pizza and ask for the pepper mill to make my own concoction.

      One pizza was the one with brocolli rabe, sausge and some shees that also lacked flavor. That was o.k. compared to the one with proscuitto. The procuitto was very good, but that was the only thing on the pie. It probably was my fault because I did not read the menu completely, but I was expecting something like Otto serves. We were both hugely disappointed.

      Needless to say, I will not be back. Does anyone have other suggetions for an Otto-type place?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Angelina

        Do you mean grilled pizza like Otto makes? Or do you mean a wine bar/pizza type place like Otto? Any preference as to location? In Brooklyn?

        1. re: boccalupo

          ooppss...sorry! At this point, I will take both! ha ha! I love the pizza at Otto, so something similar. (I love any wine bar, as a matter of fact, I love ALL wine! !)

          Location can be Brooklyn.

          Thanks, boccalupo! :)

          1. re: Angelina

            Fiore is Williamsburg. Cute place, nice ambience. Food is pretty good, not spectacular. Full menu plus grilled pizzas.

            Bar Tano in South Park Slope is a cute place with nice wines. Again, nice atmosphere. Wine bar. Food is decent. They have pizzas and bruschetta but I have not tried the pizza.

      2. Went to Motorino for lunch again today. I had the regular Margarita pie this time. Basically the same impression, actually I think it was a little better. One side was not underdone, and had some nice char but more importantly had more of a crust on the outside which reinforced my thinking the first pie was underdone. Still not very flavorful dough though. I would say again that if you are into the pizza scene in nyc it is worth a visit. I think it is much better than the impression I have from reading Angelina's post. If they could bring the dough up a couple of notches, it really would be a pizza destination in my mind.

        1. Tried to go last night. There was a half hour wait at 9pm (tuesday). Is it really THAT good? I don't know, I didn't wait. I did notice a lamb shank on the specials chalk board though which was confusing to me. Anyone try anything besides the pizza or is the lamb ON the pizza?

          1. i really liked the pizza (we had the special artichoke pie), although a bit more crispiness would have been nice. that said, the dough had great flavor and was nicely salty without being overwhelming, while the smoked pancetta was delicious and generously portioned. i would have appreciated a bit more artichoke, though. i really liked our app, as well: thick triangles of oven-roasted mortadella. it was basically an italian take on fried bologna, and it was very, very tasty. sadly, our salad was not great. should have gone with the fig/gorgonzola one instead of the panzanella, which was really bland. we were trying to balance out the meat and cheese with something lighter, though! as for prices, it all seemed quite reasonable to me. i probably wouldn't go by myself, but 2 can eat nicely for under $20/person.

            1. Last post was a month ago but I'd rather not start a new post when giving my brief review.

              Went today at lunch about noon, and was first happy how close to the BQE (and Queens) this place is. After reading the TO review, and the NY Slice I was afraid of too much hype and disappointment. We'll get to that momentarily.
              Being as it was not even noon yet the place was completely empty. As long as the oven is hot enough I care not a bit. Just gave me a chance to sit at the bar and speak with the waitress about her 'real job' as an actress from Australia.
              I got the lunch special with soup. For only $10 I was happy to have so much food. THe soup was chix broth with potato's, kale and sausage. With a bunch of parmesan added on top it was a fantastic start to the meal. Particularly warming on such a cold day.
              The pizza then took another 10 min. for some reason, but I was in no rush so no matter. Everything looked good, nice char on the crust, bright red tomato sauce with a beautiful speckle of grated cheese, and globs of mozz. (I went for the buffalo) that were oozing between the slices. It really was just a pretty pizza. A picture worthy pizza that really got me excited.
              And with that first bite I knew. I knew that I found the most extraordinary pizza spot within easy driving distance to my house. Finally! The sauce was perfectly tart and sweet with that grated cheese that I don't think was Parm. It was too flavorful than parm. Not just the saltiness that often comes from hard cheese, but a really complex cheese flavor that I can not place. I may try the marinara pie next just to get more of that sauce/grated cheese flavor. The mozz was good b/c it was melted mozz, but it didn't 'wow' me the way I expected from the buffalo mozz. Next time I'd save the $4 and stick with domestic.
              As for the crust, I was most impressed with the char. This provided great flavor to the dough, which after reading previous reports expected to be bland. I wonder if they've read these reports and added more salt to their dough, b/c the dough is now perfectly salted. Although not bad, I did find some critisisms for the dlough. Firstly I would like the sauce/cheese to make its way closer to the edge. For such a small pie there is way to much real estate between the edge of the sause and the ende of the pie. This made for too much crust with a bit too much doughiness. On the flip side, I would have liked a bit more doughiness to the interior portion of the pizza. The slices held up under the weight of the toppings, but I just like a bit more bite to the pie. But these notes are minor and the overall experience was wonderful.

              Ultimately I would have to agree with the hype. Very different style than DiFara's so that comparison makes no sense. But compared with other neopolitain pizzaria's I've been to recently, Nicks', Angelo's, Bella Via, and Sacs'(gross), Motorino's is a level above. I think far above these other spots. As it is a strictly neopolitain pie, Motorino's may not be everyone's favorite, but that style is being performed here close to perfection. A must try for all pizza lovers.

              1 Reply
              1. re: SpiceJunkies

                They do great work on the specials. I've had lamb with lentils, octopus with roasted potatoes, and roasted squash. All were excellent, not afterthoughts. The only dish i have had that was not just fine was the panzanella salad, already called out by wleatherette.

              2. I've been twice--once for dinner which I thought was very good and recently for brunch! They just started doing it--has anyone else been? My friend got the fritatta which she was disappointed with, but I got the egg pizza...very creative idea: baked eggs on top of pizza dough with cheese and pancetta (but I got mine without). The crust got a bit tiresome/too much by the end, but all in all I thought it was really good and an interesting take on brunch! Anyone else had it?

                2 Replies
                1. re: superplume

                  I agree that there is just a bit too much crust. Is this neopolatain syle or just the way they do it. If the sauce and cheese went just a 1/2" closer to the edge, I would be screaming PIZZA PERFECTION.

                  I was also wondering if anyone noticed that the pic's of the pizza on the slice blog show a pizza with cheese oozing all over the pie. Not just the neopolatain circles of cheese I got on my pie. I wonder if at the time of the SLice photos they were just working out the kinks, but I knida want to try a pie with all that cheese.
                  Here's the link : http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

                  Why didn't my pie look like that?

                  1. re: SpiceJunkies

                    Because it is about marketing and they are saving money on ingredients.

                2. Went on Easter Sunday. Airy space, fun to watch the pizzas being made. I thought the pie was pretty darn delicious. The oil and sea salt really make the flavours pop. Unlike some others, I found the dough to be fluffy inside, crisp and chewy on the outside, and very moreish. I found the tomato sauce to be kind of plain, but they do it on purpose--imported tomatoes, prepared simply, no garlic or onions cooked with the tomatoes. If you like clean honest tomato flavour, it's for you. Otherwise, maybe ask for extra garlic. Hubby said he thought he could taste each ingredient separately rather than one glorious symphony of tastes, but that is a quibble and possibly a matter of opinion as to which is more desirable. I thought the pies were a fine size for the price & quality of ingredients.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chowbeth

                    Interesting comment about the unadulterated, "plain" sauce. I am so eager to love Motorino, but our two visits have left me underwhelmed with the pies. The sides we've had have actually been fantastic, but the pizzas left me wanting.
                    The first time we went my husband got the prosciutto pizza, which was so horrendously salty, the waitress looked at me with sympathetic eyes and insisted I put olive oil on it. That *sort of* helped. I thought we had just made a mistake of ordering a prosciutto pie (had never done that before), so chalked it up to that.
                    Most recently we got the margarita with the fior di latte. The crust was marvelous, and the superior taste of the cheese really came through. The sauce however, I found quite bland (not just "tomato-y", but a bit flavorless) and I really prefer raw basil on a margarita, rather than having it cooked so it maintains the flavor and aroma.

                  2. I was here a few days ago and had a lovely experience overall. Agree with other posters that the toppings ratio is low, but the dough was *seriously* delicious. perfect texture, and only one tiny part was over-charred. we split a simple white pie, among other things, so i can't comment on the tomato sauce. (my slight gripes: the middle was a bit soggy, and i wish there had been ricotta on it. the latter not their problem.)
                    the highlight was a very, very good octopus appetizer special with ramp pesto and grilled artichokes. so definitely try some non-pizza things.
                    a disappointment, for those going in the very near future: no BYOB anymore, but they are still awaiting their liquor license to be finalized. so prepare to drink soda, or call ahead to see if it has changed.

                    1. Since we were off today, we went to the Brooklyn location for the first time - for the lunch special. $10 for soup or salad and a pizza seemed like a good deal. The food turned out to be just was ok, but the service was horrible. The place was packed around 2:30pm. We sat down, with 3 other tables seated just after us. The waiter brought us water and never came back. The 3 other tables had their orders taken and got their soup / salads before we even ordered. There were 3 wait staff hanging out behind the bar looking clueless. I finally had to go up and ask to place our order. Then our soup never came. Others got their pizza and then their checks. One table asked for their food to be wrapped up and never got it back. Apparently the waiter didn’t hear him say “please wrap it up.” Another waitress came over and the amazing thing is that instead of apologizing for the mistake, she actually put the blame on the customer, asking him “are you sure you asked for it wrapped, because we usually don’t wrap unless asked.” You would think, just give the guy an extra piece of pizza or offer him a coffee as good will. All they said was “sorry,” as the customer just sat there and looked confused. Then he got up and left without his food. Another table received the wrong order. Mind you, we still never got our soup, so again, I got up to ask for it. A different waitress went to check on it and never came back. Finally, we got some cold puree of brussel sprout soup – the apology was that they “ran out of soup” and had to make more, so we got the bottom of the pot. Then of course our pizza was delayed. I would have let all of this slide had the pizza lived up to the hype. However, the pizza was not great at all. Mostly crust, little topping of any sort, very oily and mushy. And the rest of the crust that was charred, was just burnt. The only redeeming part was that they did actually give us a piece of tiramisu on the house because of the long wait. But then never came back with our check. So, for a 2:30pm lunch, we were there until after 4pm. I have to say, this may not be a big deal to most people, but for me, service adds a lot to the dining experience. I don’t think I would go back for mediocre pizza and horrible service. There are certainly numerous other great pizza choices in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

                      1. Went to the Graham Ave location the other day. Was greeted by the nicest person I think I have ever met in Brooklyn. Now a comment on bad service. I don't know how other people treat their servers to get such bad service, but I bet it's their snotty "billyburg" attitude that hurts them in the end. Sorry, not everyone wants to be a skinny black jean wearing tattooed clone with a superior attitude and a bad 70's haircut. I have yet to meet a server in all of Brooklyn that didn't smile when I smiled at them. And, on the day we were there they treated the couple with the 5 year old no different than anyone else. Now, for the food. We ordered the meatball app along with the Octopus salad. The meatballs were light and spicy and for $2 came with a nice bread/crust to sop up the sauce. The octopus salad was excellent. Everything about it was top notch. I thought I was eating at Le Cirque. The potatoes where perfectly cooked, as was the octopus. Meltingly tender came to mind. The addition of parsley leaf, thinly sliced celery and capers made this a very light, wonderful dish, that in the wrong hands could have been a mess. Next, I ordered the Pugliese, and while it was a little moist in the middle the toppings and crust were great. If your looking for the greasy "New York slice" experience go some where else; that can be had on any corner of the city. While this pizza wasn't perfect, it was way above average both in crust and quality of the toppings. All in all, a great meal.