A Hamburger Today
Clinton Hill: However You Pronounce It, It's Nice Pizza
First off, it's pronounced Neese Pizza, as in that city in the south of France. Second, um, is French pizza going to be any good?
Turns out, yeah, Nice Pizza is putting out some good, extremely thin crusted, flaky pies in a corner of Brooklyn that's been woefully underserved for years when it comes to pizza.
What makes it French? Well, besides the owner (who is Niçois) and the name of the joint, maybe pizzas like "La Chevre" (above), topped with goat cheese, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and tomato slices. I could have done without the flaccid out-of-season tomatoes (and picked them off), but the rest of the combo worked surprisingly well. The tartness of the goat cheese countered the sweetness of the onions, and the mushrooms added an earthiness to the ball of wax. Not sure if I'd get this every time, but, hey, goat cheese — who knew it worked so well on pizza?
I'm not going to read too much into the French connection here, but I do wonder if it has something to do with the super-thin, flaky crust that these pizzas are built on. All the tarte flambée and/or flammekueche I've had have shown the same type of crust. And while Nice is nowhere near the Alsatian region, where tarte flambée originated, it's not too wild to think the folks at Nice might have based the pizza here on them.
Pizzas are cooked in a Bakers Pride gas oven, which puts just enough browning on there for some flavor and visual interest but stays out of the "burned" or charred territory that some folks like to avoid.
The Marguerite pizza (tomato sauce, cheese, fresh oregano) is as close as you're going to get to either a classic New York plain pie or a Neapolitan Margherita. But the truth is that it's nowhere near either of those and is a thing unto itself. If you're looking for Neapolitan style, you should probably head elsewhere (Saraghina is sorta close), but the copious amount of cheese used at Nice should placate those hoping for a New York–style slice.
Pizzas at Nice come in 12-inch or 16-inch rounds. The large pies range from $15 (for the Marguerite) to $20 for "La Baltique" (smoked salmon, heavy cream, mushrooms, capers).
Nice Pizza also offers a number of sandwiches and salads that this eater was unable to get to. The locals seem to vouch for them, though.
It's a cute little restaurant with a friendly staff, offering something the neighborhood had been lacking, i.e. good pizza. Any way you pronounce it, that's just nice.