Thursday, November 27, 2008
A full-fledged endorsement: eat here!
I'm going to go ahead and drop any pretense of journalistic objectivism and admit that what follows is a totally, completely, entirely biased assessment of Franklin Ave's resident pizza place, A Slice of Brooklyn. I love this place for many personal reasons: their grand opening took place on the first day I looked at apartments along Franklin this summer, my girlfriend and I celebrated signing our lease with a lunch here, it's perfectly situated for picking up a quick slice to eat on the shuttle on the way to the park for a Saturday afternoon stroll, and they serve one of my favorite (and least-produced, at least in New York) slices, spinach. My goal in writing about them is not to review them, but convince you to spend your hard-earned dollars there.
A Slice of Brooklyn was opened in late July by Judy and Elwin, a couple who had never owned a restaurant before this. Elwin, the tall gentleman with the beard who mans the register most frequently, freely admits that his wife is the lady in charge. "I work for her!" he laughed and pointed when I asked him if he owned the place. When I asked Judy why they opened the place, she smiled coyly and said "We had a great recipe." She noted that she and her children had perfected the dough, sauce, and cheese while cooking at home, and though she no longer bakes each pie (that honor belongs to Miguel, the stocky, smiling chef kneading dough at the back), there is no doubt that the pizza has a unique taste. Unlike most pizza available along the avenues in Crown Heights, it is remarkably light and grease-free, with a crispy thin crust and a flavorful, tangy sauce that actually tastes like tomatoes (instead of just adding a soft texture and some sugars).
The place itself is decorated in the dark, quiet style of a family restaurant, eschewing the typical flourescent-and-bulletproof-glass aesthetic of local pizza joints. Exposed brick and dark woods line the walls and facade, and there's more than enough room to sit down with your meal. The "Slice" (we've given it a nickname--feel free to adopt it) isn't open late--doors close around 10:30--and they also serve a range of affordable and legitimately tasty Italian food. It seems that in decorating and developing the place, Judy and Elwin were aiming to attract a sedate, family crowd, not the late-night food-fixers. This may hurt them in terms of some post-drinking business, but it makes their atmosphere during the day so pleasant that I leave smiling every time I pop in for my spinach slice (fresh spinach!).
I always ask them how business is, in part because I worry that the current crisis might hurt them, and in part because I know that, as my banker buddy put it, "retail sucks." But if you ask me, we need places like this in every neighborhood--they might be a bit of a cliche, but cliches, like stereotypes, are rooted in truth, and the truth is that a neighborhood pizza parlor with friendly staff and great food is as close to an unqualified good thing as you're likely to find in our day and age.