Daily Slice: Tuttobene's in Greenpoint
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
It's been years since I've stopped anywhere along McGuiness Boulevard. When I lived in Willamsburg in late '90s, the Key Food near Greenpoint Avenue was my "big shop" grocery destination. And I did spend a handful of evenings playing pool at La Cue, near Calyer Street. There were house phones along the walls provided to expedite beverage orders.
But lunch on McGuiness? Never. It's a road for trucks and cars traveling between the BQE and Long Island City. Of course, McGuiness (and much of Brooklyn) has changed since the late '90s. Now, along its still rather un-scenic expanse, one will see pedestrians—and, I learned the other day, a good new option for pizza.
Tuttobene's, located across the street from La Cue, serves brick oven pies in three sizes. They do not offer slices, but the personal size (10-inch) works as lunch for one. At $6 for a plain (made with fresh mozzarella), it's a good value.
There were two people working behind the counter when I visited last week: Sal (the owner's son) and Maria (Sal's cousin). Maria told me that the oven could handle wood, but the pizzeria prefers gas because it enables pies to "cook more evenly and get crisper."
She was right. Tuttobene's pizza has a thin and crisp bottom that does not become soggy, even when cool. Of course, temperatures and methods of heating do present tradeoffs. I've often wished pies made in wood burning ovens were less soggy, and in the case of Tuttobene's I yearned for more complexity of flavor—complexity that the burning of wood could furnish.
Tuttobene's makes good pizza. I had a personal size pie with sausage and peppers ($8). The sauce is not at all doctored; but rather, tastes of low acid good-quality tomatoes. I like that they do not season or sweeten it, but instead let the tomatoes speak for themselves. It could, however, benefit from a dash more salt. The cheese, which they make in-house daily from a Grande sourced curd, melts across the pie and (to borrow Grandes' terminology) "weeps" a little oil: it must be a whole milk curd.
Despite the pedestrian-friendly changes along many of NYC's car-dominated thoroughfares, McGuiness Boulevard has not yet evolved in the vein of Houston Street in Manhattan—or in Brooklyn, Atlantic Avenue west of Flatbush. I can see why Tuttobene's refrains from offering slices: the pies might sit too long.
But in this case, our loss is our gain: everyone gets fresh. And with the house-made mozzarella, good simple sauce, and light and crisp crust, it's a pizza worth returning for.