A Hamburger Today
New Coal-Oven Pizzeria in Bushwick: Verde Coal Oven Pizza
It's called Verde Coal Oven Pizza. Been open all of a week and a half at this point. In the heart of Bushwick — like deep Bushwick. Not the westernmost parts some folks have taken to calling "East Williamsburg," either. Pretty much on the border of Ridgewood, Queens.
254 Irving Avenue is the address. Between Greene Avenue and Bleecker Street. Really warm and friendly place. No beer and wine license at this time, but it's BYO.
There's great intel about the place and a very nice slideshow on BushwickBK, but I'll quote from the take-out menu here:
In 1907, a new coal-fired oven was added to the original foundation of a building on Bushwick's Irving Avenue. Soon, the building was providing fresh bread daily to turn-of-the-century Italian immigrants of the neighborhood.
Over one hundred years later, Charlie Verde, born in Sambuca, Sicily, took possession of 254 Irving Avenue. As Charlie worked to restore the building to its original style, he discovered a long-forgotten treasure in the basement. Behind a crumbling plaster wall, the original 1907 coal-fired brick oven sat dormant and cold.
After much effort, in 2011 the oven is back to life as the heart of Verde Coal Oven, an artisanal pizzeria and bakery. Now on cold, wet days you can see the steam rising from the sidewalk. On winter mornings, the snow melts as the oven beneath turns out freshly baked bread and gourmet pizza. Many of the Italian immigrants are gone but the quality they enjoyed is once again available at Verde Coal Oven.
It's certainly way too early to tell how things are going to shake out, but the pizzas I sampled last night were markedly different from those you'll find at Totonno's, the East Harlem Patsy's, Grimaldi's, Lombardi's, etc. They're small, about 10 inches across and were more crackery than chewy but with a fine, soft crumb. Verde is using fresh mozzarella (some from Grande, some local) and some pleasantly tart canned Italian tomatoes.
Brandonz, who hipped me to this place in a comment, reviewed it on Yelp, and I think his take on it there is pretty much in line with what I experienced and the most balanced/nuanced assessment there thus far.
Eleven pizzas are on the menu, which hues pretty traditionally Italian but with some twists. Prices range from $7 (Marinara) to $15 (for the broccoli rabe–and-sausage pie and the prosciutto-and-arugula number). Rule of thumb based on last night's pies would be one pizza per person.
Very nice interior. According to BushwickBK, architectural details salvaged from an old home before it was demolished. All integrated to the point where the place looks like it might have been there forever. Friendly owner. A very nice addition to the neighborhood, which, from what I saw while I roamed around, doesn't have much in the way of places like it.
Breads and biscotti baked in the coal oven, too. The cookies were good but I didn't get to try the breads, as the bread-baker was out sick. Here's the full menu:
- Marinara ($7): tomato, garlic, oregano, basil, olive oil
- Margherita ($8): tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil
- Carciofilla ($12): ricotta, mozzarella, artichokes
- Brocoletta Salsiccia ($15): tomato, broccoli rabe, cheese & parsley sausage, mozzarella, garlic, oil
- Moroccino ($12): tomato, mozzarella, Moroccan olives, basil, mushrooms, olive oil
- Maladrina ($12): tomato, mozzarella, ricotta, eggplant, basil, olive oil
- Quattro Stagioni ($13): tomato, mozzarella, olives, arugula, mushroom, eggplant
- I'lich ($10): tomato, mozzarella, anchovy, basil, olive oil
- Diavolo ($12): tomato, mozzarella, hot soppressata, basil, olive oil
- Lucky Charlie ($13): Lucky's Tomatoes, choice of gorgonzola or mozzarella, basil, olive oil
- La Bella Parma ($15): tomato, prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, olive oil
Verde Coal Oven Pizza
254 Irving Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11237 (near Bleecker; map)