Brooklyn Central, the new pizzeria from Sottocasa pizzaioli Matt Hyland and Roberto Patriarca, will be opening tomorrow in the space last occupied by Pete's Pizzeria, on Fifth Avenue between First and Second Streets.
The space has been completely transformed, and is comfortable and casual. There's a seating area up front with a full bar behind that, and a hand-built wood-burning oven from Naples' Stefano Ferrara dominates the back room. There's a counter surrounding it so you can watch the magic happen, and behind that is an outdoor seating area, which should seat about 35. There's plenty of exposed brick and reclaimed wood; the counter is actually made from an old bowling alley.
But on to the pizza. "Flour, water, yeast, and salt are the only ingredients," said Patriarca, who hails from just outside Naples and whose father ran several pizzerias in New York. "The pizzas are made in strict Neapolitan style, using primarily fresh, local ingredients." The crust is chewy and springy, with just the right amount of char from the blazing oven.
The pizza menu is separated into two sections: "New World" and "Old World." Pizzas in the Old World section are made with imported fresh buffalo mozzarella and fresh tomato sauce, and come topped with prosciutto, sausage, ham, pepperoni from M&S, anchovies, mushrooms, olives, and other traditional toppings. There's also a classic calzone, filled with mozzarella, ricotta, ham, tomato, and basil. "Very traditional," added Hyland. "We're going back to basics with the Old World menu."
Where the Old World menu is classic and traditional, the New World offerings are anything but. There's the North Maple (above), topped with smoked mozzarella, bacon, maple syrup, and pecans. The Canard comes with duck, smoked mozzarella, and a seasonal compote. The Ivette (named after Roberto's wife) has ricotta, onions, bacon, and potato. The Emily (named for Matt's wife, who also manages), has mozzarella, tallegio, truffle spread, pistachios, and honey. There's also a vegan pie, topped with sauce, artichokes, peppers, cherry tomatoes, and scallions. Fresh mozzarella on the "New World" pies is from Brooklyn as opposed to the "Old World"'s Italy, which makes for an interesting comparison when eaten side by side.
There's a solid assortment of appetizers, including a few salads, charcuterie from La Quercia, meatballs, oven-roasted octopus with fennel salad, and "stix," foccaccia rolled in pizza spices and served with tomato sauce (I have a feeling the kids will love that one). For dessert, there's a s'mores calzone (filled with marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers), "pizza churros" rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with Nutella, Steve's key lime pies, and Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches. Coffee is from Toby's Estate in Williamsburg.
There will be weekly pizza specials according to what's fresh and in-season, and brunch will be rolled out within a month. A liquor license is also in the works. They'll do orders to go, but are still toying with the idea of delivery. Brooklyn Central will be open from 5- 10:30 during the week, and until midnight on the weekends.
Owners Matt Hyland (l.) and Roberto Patriarca