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Lucali is a Tourist Trap.

Tonight I went to Lucali in Bk and was really disappointed. Not only was it expensive but it really didn't taste very good and had little to no substance. I cant understand how this place is ranked so high, the pizza itself tasted generic and as I said earlier, it was so thin and had so little cheese that i felt ripped off. I ate 4 of the 8 slices and was still hungry afterwards. I could have knocked out a whole pie, easily and still would have been hungry

We ended up going to another pizza shop, to fill ourselves on the way home.

I give this place 1 of 5 stars. I feel one can get better pizza at 99% of the shops around the city. I feel this place is simply a tourist trap. I am also really starting to question the recommendations on chowhound, from this place to Katz deli. Ive been recommended places and they always end up being worse and more expensive than what I am used to.

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  1. not a fan by any means.

    but how did the tourists get hip enough to put this on the same level as babbo or wd 50?

    2 Replies
    1. re: david sprague

      While the crust seems to be verging on cracker-thin and tastes a bit less flavorful lately, I was there last night and found the sauce to still be tangy and well-balanced, the cheese mild and soothing save for welcome notes of salty parmesan/pecorino, and the peperoni, garlic, and basil toppings all as fresh and harmonious as ever.

      And the calzone may well outshine the pie - that ricotta is downright decadent.

      Lucali is no longer cheap by any means (please don't order the ridiculous $8 toppings if you're looking for value), and the waitlist is invariably long and vexing to navigate. But the atmosphere is still charming, the waitstaff flighty, fidgety and endearing, and the quality remains tightly controlled by a man who cares deeply about his customers' experience. If you had a problem with the pizza, you had every opportunity to tell him about it as he made his next pie there in front of you.

      Perhaps chowhound is not where you should be going for advice given your particular preferences? The title of your post seems somewhat incendiary, so it's possible you don't want to take the discussion in constructive directions, but it would be helpful to know which places you've found that offer a similar experience at a better value.

      I feel the BYOB policy keeps the value proposition at Lucali much friendlier than what I find at 90% of the artisan pizza restaurants that pass for affordable throughout the city. I'll continue giving them my business and vouching for the cozy South Brooklyn atmosphere they cultivate until something better comes along.

      1. re: CalJack

        i find it interesting that the op calls it a "tourist trap". i never thought of it that way; my impression is that it is a local gem. i am a big fan of that type of pizza--thin being key for me. people prefer different things. it sounds as though lucali does not offer the style of pizza that recursion favors.

        as for it being expensive--it is. however, i find the quality, atmosphere, etc so to my liking that it is worth the price. the byob policy makes up for a lot, as well. if that went away i would definitely go less often.

      1. re: noisejoke

        It is worse that what he is used to.

        1. re: scooter

          Well, all righty then! Glad we got that straightened out! XD

        2. A "tourist trap"? The place is filled with locals who are willing to wait for a good slice. If you set your standards on the heavy, over-cheesy fare "99% of the shops around the city" serve, than you're right, Lucali's will disappoint. It's so much better than that.

          1. It sounds like the OP is not happy with CH recs. I have found them thoughtful and helpful in finding new places, and seeing how old favorites are holding up.

            "tourist trap"? You must be kidding! What tourist would go deep into Brooklyn for a slice of pizza?

            LUCALI serves a traditional, far above average, NY style pizza which should have a very thin crust..In NY the thinner the better, high quality sauce and real cheese.

            The measure of a good pizza is not the amount of "stuff" thrown on top of it, but the balance of the thin crackly crust, mellow tomato sauce, and fresh tangy cheese.

            Cheap pizza abounds in Brooklyn, and the rest of NY. But by necessity it uses sauce that is industrial, not homemade, processed, pre-packaged cheese, not the real deal.

            As for KATZ's Delicatessen; there are so few authentic Jewish Delis left in NY, let alone none in the rest of the country, KATZ's remains a gem.

            Corned Beef and Pastrami are expensive meats, requiring long, elaborate preparation and man hours. They are hand sliced and served on top quality authentic Jewish Rye with seeds. The sandwiches are gargantuan, enough to feel three or four people.

            The price of restaurants and all food places in NY has gone up, but supermarket prices have gone up as well. Restaurants are struggling to keep their quality and service up, and their prices stabilized. A difficult task in this economy.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Fleur

              Well and simply put, Fleur. I'm still waiting to hear what pizza places and delis the OP prefers. I've never been to Lucali and I suppose I should. But I'd sure love to hear what might compete with Katz's pastrami. And where else I can get stuffed derma (though I know I've never really looked very hard)? In fact, since we're on the Outer B board, where can I get a decent stuffed derma on Kings Hwy or 18th ave or wherever around Midwood and Boro Park?

              1. re: noisejoke

                Since the demise of the 2nd AVENUE DELI, KATZ'S and CARNEGIE DELI are the only other options.

                Some friends visited from Bermuda, and went to the STAGE DELI this weekend, and loved it. My family from Texas loves JUNIOR"S for Pastarami and Cheesecake, and loved it. .

                1. re: Fleur

                  Actually, 2nd Ave Deli came back! It's now on 33rd St. My ex took my daughter a few weeks ago and said the brisket and chopped liver were great. There's grivnas on the table and a little egg cream to finish.

                  1. re: noisejoke

                    Yes, we have been to the "new" 2nd Avenue Deli, too. It was last year and I made no notes, so I cannot give you a detailed report, but all 3 of us liked it. The matzo ball soup was excellent, according to the matzo ball soup enthusiast in our group (although "not as good as auntie Ruth's").

                    1. re: noisejoke

                      It is back and it is way better than Katz's, IMO.

                    2. re: Fleur

                      I'd take the pastrami at David's any day... half the price and every bit as delicious.

                    3. re: noisejoke

                      Is Adleman's still on Kings Hiway right there? Downhill? I havent been in over 5 years so I have no idea, but it used to be good. The only go to place on that side of Bklyn, in my opinion, is Mill Basin Deli, which isnt close by (Ave T in the E.50s) but good enough to make the trek. I think Coney Island Ave around Ave J still has a deli serving stuffed derma as well ("Essex St Deli"?) and then there's one on the corner of Nostrand and Ave M that looks good to me every time I take my car in a block away... I've never tried either.

                    4. re: Fleur

                      Well said, Fleur. I was just going to post something along the same lines, including being surprised at the thougt that tourists would be able (or willing) to even find Lucali.

                    5. First of all, don't give up on Katz's. There is nothing like it. It might make you mad that it's so expensive, but if you love pastrami, there is no equal.

                      That being said, I've pretty much abandoned recommending "the best" pizza on here. People are too irate but also their recommendations are usually based on sentimental values. I've been to many of their bests and I haven't been a fan of them, and some people slam my favs... it's really just finding yourself among the pizza in the city.

                      I don't think 99 percent are better than this. I think more like 65 percent are crap. I liked lucali a lot when I went, but I think I should go back now that I have a better perspective of nyc pizza under my belt.

                      1. There is a big difference between our personal tastes (what we happen to like or not like) and bad food (cheap, non-fresh ingredients and unskilled preparation, etc).

                        So, if your definition of great pizza is a thick crust and lots of cheese and other stuff on top of it, then you definitely will not like the style of pizza that Lucali and so many other NY pizza places prepare. That does not mean that Lucali's pizza is bad; you just do not like the style.

                        As it comes to Katz's deli, what did you expect? If you had done your research, you would have known exactly what to expect and why so many people, especially New Yorkers, love the place. It is pretty much a place like no other in New York. If you do not like the place, fine, but that is because of your personal taste, not because the place is not good.

                        I am expecting overseas guests in a about a month and Katz's will be one of the first places where they will have to go - armed with knowledge about the place; its history, the food and what goes into the preparation of that food.

                        Who knows, maybe I will take them to Lucali, too. They love thin crust pizza -and I want them to see something else than Manhattan or just the usual, easy tourist sights in Brooklyn. So if you see us there and hear us yapping in a weird sounding language, you can say: "See, what did I say - this is a total tourist trap!" :-D

                        1. My wife and I were there last week and thought it was spectacular. Definitely way more expensive than it should be, making it a rare treat rather than a regular visit, but the pie was absolutely delicious. It was also unlike any other pie I've had in NYC, relying solely on the freshness of the ingredients more than, say, the charcoal char or a deep, rich sauce. I'm sure there are other places that this can be said about, but none that we've been to. This is not a complaint at all. We loved it.

                          1. While I wouldn't go so far as to call Lucali's a tourist "trap", I would say it is definitely more infested with tourist types on Friday and Saturday than it used to be. I was there on Saturday night and definitely noticed a lot more picture taking and foreign languages than would be associated with a "local gem". You want to know what's killing the waitlist? Tourists. They might not be as inclined to eat a pie and get out as someone who lives in the nabe which then slows the list to a halt. Just the way it is.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: kiteIess

                              I don't think it's tourists that are creating the long waits -- those long waits showed up within 3 months of Mark opening the place. Next time I'm in the place I'll ask him, but I suspect Mark will say that no more than 10% of his customers are non-New Yorkers.


                              1. re: Peter

                                "I don't think it's tourists that are creating the long waits "

                                And, really, what if it was? Does that automatically invalidate the place?
                                It seems, more and more, that if someone has a negative view of a venue, they immediately throw in the tourist argument as a way of automatically validating their opinion. In this case, I think the OP is just throwing the tourist argument in there as a red herring - and I'm not going for it. I wish I had a buck for every time someone used this stand-bye with respect to Katz's. It's not enough to say, "I don't like the food." This argument should not, in and of itself, thwart those who are curious to try out an eatery.

                                By this logic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which draws in hundreds, perhaps thousands of tourists a day, is not worth a visit. It's also the logic that states that, if, god forbid, someone is from out of town, they have no tastebuds. Ridiculous.


                                1. re: Polecat

                                  Great post. I couldn't agree more.

                              2. sounds a little like the original poster accidentally ended up at grimaldi's and thought they were at lucali.

                                1. I've only been to Lucali's once, but I thought it was very good, not great. It probably would have been better if I'd asked for the pie well done. After all the talk of the craftsmanship and perfectionism and the place's mystique, I figured it shouldn't be necessary to ask that the pie stay in the oven until the crust got crisp and some good char developed. I spoke to the maestro briefly before leaving and asked whether it was okay (and necessary) to request a well-done pie and he said yes on both counts.

                                  Though I suspect that if the OP had gotten a well-done pie s/he'd have sent it back. I guess you just have to request a pizza be done right at any coal-oven place these days.

                                  1. Tourist trap? I'm not so sure about that. It still seems to be a local-centric place, for one. Is it expensive compared to a mom & pop pizzeria? Yes. But, it is also using much, much higher quality ingredients. I live in the area and I have yet to find a local pizzeria that consistently makes a really good pie, let alone anything close to Lucali's quality and taste. If you are looking for a thicker, doughier pizza from a pizzeria, this is not it. But, it's not supposed to be and it is better than that.

                                    Once, the original poster knocked Katz' as well, I seriously questioned his/her taste to begin with. I have eaten in many Jewish deli's. No pastrami or corned beef have ever come anywhere close to what Katz' makes and slices for you. They are simply amazing, with no peers. Yes, they are expensive, but delis sandwiches are expensive in and of themselves. Katz' is more expensive. You are paying for their top quality, house cured and cooked meats. I would not choose any deli anywhere over Katz' for a pastrami sandwich.