TOMATO & BASIL
Location: Corner of Fourth Ave. and Union St.; Park Slope/Gowanus, Brooklyn
Getting There: R train to Union Street Station

PEPERONCINO
Location: Corner of Fifth Ave. and St. Mark's Place; Park Slope, Brooklyn
Getting There: N/R/M/D train to Pacific Street Station
A few weeks ago, in a long-vacant space just outside my neighborhood subway station, I noticed something new. The vandalized plywood façade that had for months welcomed me home from work was gone, in its place a sleek, matte-aluminum multidoored storefront with no hint as to its function to come.

"Interesting," I immediately thought, "so the opening salvo in the gentrification of Fourth Avenue has been fired."

Along the Park Slope side of this busy thoroughfare, from roughly Park Place to 3rd Street farther south, there are at least seven condominium projects that are just finished, almost finished, or under way. Having watched the corresponding stretch of neighboring Fifth Avenue go from grime to prime and knowing that these new condo dwellers would want nearby amenities, I figured it wouldn't be long before hip little stores and restaurants started opening on Fourth.

It is not this website's place to debate the merits or miscalculations of gentrification. Convincing arguments can be made by either side. Slice is concerned instead with pizzification, and so my second thought was, "Wouldn't it be keen if that narrow little place was a pizzeria?!" Well, it wasn't more than a couple weeks after making that wish than a sign appeared over the now-papered-up windows: "Coming Soon: Tomato & Basil." Needless to say, this reporter is eagerly awaiting Tomato & Basil's opening day (which I would have inquired about had there been someone there). With a cute name, cute space, and unbeatable slice-on-the-way-home location, I'm hoping for good things. The pizzeria is on the southwest corner of Union Street and Fourth Avenue, just south of New College Restaurant.

The recent pizzification of Park Slope doesn't stop there, however. A couple days later, after waiting in vain to transfer to an R train at Pacific Street, I decided to hoof it home. (Heck, it's only 12 blocks.) There's more to look at on Fifth Avenue, so I took that route. Imagine my surprise when I saw a sign (top-left photo) on the corner of Saint Mark's Place that read, "Coming Soon: Peperoncino, Locanda et pizzeria Napoletana"!

Like Tomato & Basil's location, this corner (right) had been boarded up for a while. I've always liked its turretlike column of bay windows and corner entrance and distinctly remember imagining a pizzeria in this space, too. (I pretty much imagine pizzerias in any vacant location.) No word, either, on when "soon" is, but this place looks a lot more raw than Tomato & Basil.

A quick translation of the sign, using a combination of Babelfish and an Italian-speaking coworker, yielded a confusing result. Peperoncino is easy: spicy little pepper. But "locanda et pizzeria Napoletana"? Locanda = "inn." So maybe "pub and pizzeria," even though I thought that "e" was Italian for "and," not "et." Nevertheless, I won't fault the translation if the pizza's good.

Fingers are crossed at Slice HQ that these two places can carry the pizzification trend started by Franny's. Before that, it was darn near impossible to find a passable slice in the neighborhood.

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