Lucali


After months of constant harassment from a friend, I finally tried Lucali Pizza. I had been reading rave reviews about this place and had to try it out for myself. I would like you to know this was my second attempt at trying to get a table at Lucali. Our first try came three weeks earlier, on a beautiful summer night. What made it so beautiful? I was off from work that entire week. After spending some time finding a parking spot and walking over a few blocks to the restaurant, my friends and I were informed that it would be a three hour wait and that we should have called ahead. Okay, so I guess this was a dry run.



Three weeks later, we returned. And this time, with a reservation. My friend made the call and was told to come in one hour. He left his phone number and was advised he would receive a call when our table was ready. I was surprised. A spot like this, without a snobby attitude towards the customer? At Totonno’s, they basically throw the pie at you. Okay, so now I had one hour to shower, get dressed and drive to downtown Brooklyn. Did I mention I had to pick-up another friend? No way in hell were we making it there in one hour.



Shockingly, one hour later, we arrived at Lucali. Parking was pretty simple to find this time and I had a good feeling that we would actually be eating pizza shortly. My friend gave his name to the hostess and was told we were next. Okay, time to wait. Good thing it was nice outside. Without much scenery to look at, I started to deconstruct the décor of the place. There was no sign, just a green and white awning. Next to the hostess was a chalkboard menu with the types of pizza and toppings served: A pie, $24; large calzone, $20; small calzone, $10. Toppings: portobello mushrooms, pepperoni, garlic, basil and onions. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. As I looked around I noticed Lucali did not have a gate; just a doorknob lock and a hasp with a padlock. The owner didn’t have much to worry about, what’s the worst that could happen? A bunch of hipsters get wasted off Pabst Blue Ribbon, break into the place and hang Obama posters everywhere? Maybe chain their fixed gear bikes to the front door? This place was old school and I was kind of happy it stayed that way, because I was going to vomit if I saw another Dunkin Donuts or Subway.



An hour had elapsed and I was getting hungry. I mean mirage hungry. I was reading the chalkboard and all of a sudden it turned into a calzone. As I reached my arm out to grab it and take a bite, my friend told me our table was ready. Score! I don’t know what’s better: when your table is ready at a restaurant or when the doctor finally walks into the room. As I walked in, the smell of pizza hit my nose, hard. Inside, the place was tiny; about twelve small, rustic looking wood tables, with chairs to match. In the back was a fire burning oven and a low counter on which the owner, an older Italian gentleman and some young guy made the pizza. This was a good sign. I’m tired of Mexicans making my pizza. Yes, they supply cheap labor, but at $24 a pie, the only thing I want a Mexican doing is cleaning the dirty dishes.




Our order was placed: two pies (one plain, one with half pepperoni), a calzone and a few sodas. As we waited for the food, pizza was whisked by only inches from where we sat. I was getting anxious. I had read all the reviews and heard all the raves. Over the past 15 years, pizza had taken a decline in quality; from the ingredients, to the way it was made. To get a good slice of pizza in New York City nowadays was a tough thing. The good pizzerias know they’re good, so they charge ridiculous prices. Like DiFara’s! Dom must be losing his mind at $5 a slice. If you’re charging that much at least make your own sauce and don’t get it out of a can.



Ten minutes later, our pies arrived. I quickly swooped in and grabbed a slice with pepperoni. After taking a few bites, I decided this was going to be a tough sell. The pepperoni overpowered the sauce and buffalo mozzarella. I needed a plain slice so I could judge this pizza. I reached in for seconds. After a few bites, we had a winner; a nice, thin crispy (yet chewy) crust pizza. The sauce was a little on the sweet side but gave a nice balance to the fresh basil, olive oil and buffalo mozzarella. I was chewing with a huge grin on my face, as if I just had sex with a group of Asian female porn stars, when our calzone arrived.



This calzone was huge. I’d say a foot and a half long, and it was cut into eight pieces. Served alongside was a bowl of Lucali’s homemade pizza sauce, some fresh grated cheese, a few leaves of basil and a stem of rosemary. I was pretty shocked to see cheese oozing out of the sides. Usually a calzone just has ricotta cheese. You can never have enough cheese. I grabbed a piece and threw on some sauce, grated some cheese and added basil. After a few bites, I realized I would give up women, alcohol and sleeping to have this calzone every day. Chewy and crispy, and made with buffalo mozzarella, this was a home run. The calzone was incredible.

Okay, enough is enough. I was stuffed. Two pies and a calzone, between three people, is a lot of food. I thought I would never say this, given that the place is a newcomer, but Lucali is now my number one pizza joint, putting Patsy’s (Grimaldi’s) in second place. The bill came to $73, without gratuity. The service could have been a little better, as the place is the size of a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan, but we left a healthy tip. As we walked out to get into my car, we saw the owner outside and thanked him for the great pizza. He seemed like a pretty nice guy and he apologized for not personally making one of our pies, but said he hoped we enjoyed our pizza and calzone. I was pretty shocked that he kept tabs on who received the pizza he made, considering there were two other people making pizza alongside him. He also confirmed a rumor that they would be opening another location in south Park Slope, but that place would be run by his brother.

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