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Pizza-deprived in Canada seeking best pizza in Brooklyn . . . Help!

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I'm a native New Yorker living in London, Ontario, two hours from Toronto, where what passes as pizza is so bad it would make pizza in the southern U.S. passable by comparison. While I do have some great pizza at home and at my inlaws (my Canadian wife was born in southern Italy), I have long since given up on seeking a decent pie at a pizzeria.

Next week I'll be taking my wife and two kids, ages nine and six, to New York, and we'll spend two or three days in Brooklyn, visiting with one of my sisters, who lives in northern part of Prospect Park, just north of Atlantic Ave. (at least I think that's the name of the neighbourhood)

We'll be shuttling quite a bit to there from a hotel in midtown-east Manahattan, and would love to try a few pizza joints along the way, or even a bit out-of-the way. I've had good pizza in Naples with its softer, puffier and sometimes wetter crust, I've had what New Yorkers call Sicilian style though in my wife hometown in Campagnia near Pulia (with just olive oil, salt, rosemary and thin slice potato -- amazing) and traditional New York slices, all of which I love.

On my wish list for now is Di Fara Pizza, Motorino, Franny's and Saraghina, but we'll likely only have time to go to two, maybe three tops. What would you recommend (and not recommend) and why? What are your favorites?

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  1. you might want to cloud your mind with Totonno's (my fav after di fara), luigis, sams, lucali and L&B spumoni gardens (esp with the kids).

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jeffsayyes

      Yes, but I believe Totonno's is still closed due to the fire they had several months ago.

      1. re: Jeffsayyes

        sadly totonno's will not open until late aug. L & B is a great suggestion -- a unique pie (cheese beneath the sauce for starters, and one of my fave crusts, thick style) and a neat eating atmosphere. if you can arrange difara (no mondays) you MUST make time.
        have a nice stay :)

        1. re: david sprague

          Good heads up on Difara, but think they are now closed Tuesday, as well.

          1. re: jdf

            Thanks for all the tips; planning a Wednesday stop at DiFara; It would likely have to be between 12 and 2 (arriving) -- better to be there a few minutes before noon or close to 2? (I know 3 or 4 would be best but have to be elsewhere then).

            1. re: CookatHomeinLondon

              DiFara is closed between 4-6 daily anyway. I've had my best luck between 2-4. As much as I love DiFara, I think you should try Lucali in Carroll Gardens if you can. The neighborhood can't be beat for a walk after to digest. Lucali opens at 6.

        2. re: Jeffsayyes

          I may have to extend our stay -- too much pizza and not enough time. Thanks for all the great suggestions.

        3. Aarrgh--I wrote you a long reply and it's disappeared. Brief summary: Franny's delicious but not what you have in mind and impossible to get a table.

          DiFara: Very special but your kids won't appreciate waiting 45 minutes for a slice and it CAN happen.

          Go to Sam's on Court St. in Carroll Gardens. Coal oven, old Brooklyn atmosphere, table service, no wait, NO SLICES.

          If you're staying in Park Slope (possible but can't be sure from your description) and want a classic New York slice (not artisan, not celebrity-sourced ingredients-- a SLICE) you can't do better than Roma on 7th Ave. between Berkeley and Union. Their fresh mozzarella slice is excellent too. Enjoy!

          18 Replies
          1. re: Amy Mintzer

            Thanks for the suggestions. My sister's place is on Washington Avenue just north of Atlantic Ave, about 1/4 mile west of Atlantic and Flatbush -- I'm not sure the proper name for the neighbourhood.

            1. re: CookatHomeinLondon

              Ah--right near me. I guess it's technically Prospect Heights. Have breakfast (or at least an egg cream!) at Tom's.

              1. re: Amy Mintzer

                Where is Tom's?

                1. re: CookatHomeinLondon

                  782 Washington Ave at Sterling Place
                  (718) 636-9738

                2. re: Amy Mintzer

                  If its north of atlantic its not pros hts but close. OP may want to check out Amorina, on Vanderbilt which is not too long a walk at all - a really nice place with interesting , very tasty modern pies and not as pricy as Franny's. Good place with kids, too.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Why didn't I think of that?

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Tom's has the same area code as Prospect Heights does, so I it is definitely Prospect Heights. Not that it matters...

                      see:
                      http://tomsrestaurant.wordpress.com/

                      http://www.chow.com/places/19106

                      1. re: FoodWine

                        I think you mean ZIP code. :-)

                        1. re: Tay

                          yes. My brain is still on vacation. Hopefully not permanently.

                          1. re: FoodWine

                            Must have been some vacation! :-)

                            1. re: Tay

                              Yes, it was. And the food was good, too ;-)

                  2. re: CookatHomeinLondon

                    In your sister's neighborhood you should try Amorina on Vanderbilt, wonderful italian style pizzas in a very casual, friendly place. Not a big place but good for groups/kids. Much more laid back than Frannies.

                  3. re: Amy Mintzer

                    I wouldn't say Franny's is impossible. Try lunch earlier on Sat or Sun. We went shortly after noon Sat and it was empty. And had three wonderful, delicious pizzas. My out-of-town foodie friends (whose local joint is James Beard Award Winning Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix), loved it.

                    1. re: Amy Mintzer

                      Amy, I finally made it to Sam's on Court St. last night with a friend and it did not disappoint. I had been trying to make it for a couple of nights in a row and finally got there before closing. We had a plain pie and it was really good. The sauce especially was how I remembered it tasting as a kid. Very flavorful. The cheese was so stringy when the pie first came out. Then it set really fast in the strong a/c. Louie was extremely nice to us, and quite the character. "another 2 minutes, this place is gonna be a refrigerator" Real old-school Brooklyn Italian. Happy to see these places are still around. I'd go there as much for its character as for its food. No pretension, just good food and good people.

                      I'm really into classic New York pizza so I can't wait to try Roma too.

                      1. re: nooyawka

                        (Been offline for a couple of days.) Glad you made it! It does have a special place in my heart. And, after always preaching to whoever's with us that it only makes sense to order the pizza, tonight a friend who can't have dairy ordered the gnocchi with meat sauce, and they were TERRIFIC--very light and delicate--as was the sauce. I ate half her dinner. And now they've got a Santa Cristina chianti (no-name wines only in the past) for $18, and it's just fine.

                        1. re: Amy Mintzer

                          Here's a great little video on Sam's:

                          http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

                          1. re: nooyawka

                            Went to Sam's on Court Street based on a lot of what I read here - did not dissappoint - in fact the pizza was one of the better ones we've eaten and we go anywhere for a good pie. What I couldn't understand was why it wasn't crowded at 7:30 on a Sat night? A place with pizza that good should be packed. After we ate there, we drove down to L&B Spumoni Gardns for dessert - a couple squares (sicilian pie slices) and pomegranite ices and, what else spumoni. doesn't get any better. That place is an experience -

                            1. re: JohnF

                              I don't think Sam's is ever crowded.... too bad for him, but good for us.

                              It would be a lot of fun to bring a big group there.

                    2. lucali.
                      definitely lucali.
                      definitely over franny's.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Get In My Belly

                        there are lots of different pizzas n brooklyn. so it depends on what the OP wants. I think the Franny's pizza is full of flavor, interesting foodwise - but it is tiny and expensive and you will pay through the nose for drinks etc. Lucali's is also a bit expensive for Brooklyn but you can share their pizzas = its a rather light and spare take on the classic style, a bit underflavored for me - the veg toppings are not very cooked. DeFaras pies are definitely more higly flavored the veg toppings are sauteed, more oil and cheese are added. Amorina like Franny offers individual shareable pies so you can have two or three along with other things (all their food is good, and reasonable) to enjoy their different and unusual flavor combos. None of these offer the typical brooklyn slice, someone else would have to speak to that. Not a typical Brooklyn slice, but a very Brooklyn scene is L&B - my kids loved going there and eating on the picnic tables, a great combo with the Aquarium, etx. im not sure its quite as good as it was 20 yrs ago.

                      2. If you want to check out the Pakistani and Bengali area that Kensington is (not the one south of Queen Street), then you'll also be in the neighborhood of Corner Pizza (East 3rd Street on Church Avenue). They still make a great slice for only half the price of DiFara. Used to live a block away and it's one of the reasons my cholesterol and blood pressure are what they are today.

                        Their meetballs...AH Machayah!

                        1. Across from the Barnes and Noble, next to the Radio Shack is a place with a very good NY style slice. I think the name is Bruschetta Rest it is fairly near you.(256 7th Ave )

                          Tomato and Basil 226 4th Ave, Brooklyn might also be near you.

                          1. So where did you end up going? Btw, I was born in NY and I now live in Exeter( not far from you). I feel your pain as far as Pizza goes( bagels too). I've perfected my NY bagels. Let me know if you're interested and I'll drop some off to you, I know what its like to miss favorite foods.