A Brooklyn Pizza Round-Up: Bene, Roberta’s, Toby’s

Donny sometimes gives me a hard time about being so “obsessed” with pizza, but if there’s anyone we know who’s more into pizza than me it’s Donny’s roommate, our friend Mo. He recently suggested that we do a tour of Brooklyn pizzerias, in which we would hit as many as we could in one day. He even volunteered to drive us from place to place so that we wouldn’t waste any time. We came up with a list of about six different pizzerias that we wanted to visit. Unfortunately, as Robert Burns said, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley.” In other words, it didn’t go exactly as planned.

Our biggest problem was that we decided to do this on Labor Day, which also happened to be the day of the West Indian Parade. This meant that there were lots of street closures and lots of traffic because of it. We ended up having to go farther and farther out of our way just to get to the first place. We decided to stop along the way to grab a slice from Bene Pizza, which you may remember as the place with the great vodka slice, even though it wasn’t on our original itinerary.

I’d been talking up the vodka slice so much that Donny and Mo both wanted to try it. Mo also got a slice of their “margherita” pizza. The vodka was slightly different than the last time I’d gotten it; there were bright green stripes of pesto across it now. The pizza was still quite good, and it whetted our appetites for more.

After about an hour of winding through most of Brooklyn, navigating the traffic, we made it to Bushwick for Roberta’s. Way back when I did my tour of pizzerias along the L train I ended up liking Roberta’s the best. Mo, Donny and I had been planning to visit there for months, and yet somehow we’d never made it.

One of the things I love about Roberta’s pizza is the wonderfully charred crust. There’s an infinitesimally narrow line between “charred” and “burnt” when talking about pizza crust, and when done right charred crusts have so much flavor. We ordered two pies (probably unwise, but we were awfully hungry): a potato and egg pizza, and a mushroom and artichoke pizza. The potato and egg was the real winner, in my book, though the mushroom and artichoke wasn’t bad. We watched as the pizzaiolo held the egg pie up to the roof of the oven, helping cook the egg without pushing the crust into the realm of the burnt. As Donny mentioned, the potato was a bit lost in the mix, but the rich egg yolk with the crust was a magnificent combination.

After gorging ourselves on the two pizzas we were pretty full, but still we went out in search of more. First we swung by Saraghina, in Bed-Stuy, but they were closed due to the holiday. We decided to pass on L & B Spumoni Gardens, because it was in the wrong direction, so we headed out to Anselmo’s in Red Hook. Unfortunately, they were closed for the holiday as well. We did take the opportunity to stop by the Red Hook Ball Field for some fresh juice, so that trip wasn’t completely wasted.

By this time were were pretty sure the expedition was a failure (though an admittedly delicious one), so we decided to head to our final destination, Toby’s Public House.

Donny and I had been to Toby’s before, so we knew it would be a good place to relax and have some good pizza and beer. While drinking and waiting for pizza we were joined by our friend Matt. The four of us each ordered a pizza, which was probably overkill at that point, but what the heck. We all ate a slice of each other’s pizza. My favorite of the four was the spicy pecorino that Donny ordered, topped with fresh tomatoes and pesto. The margherita was once again a little wet, and the balance of the four cheese on the quattro formaggi wasn’t great. The spinach pie was quite good as well.

I should also point out that when our server found out what we had been up to today she was pretty horrified. Remember this was based on the places we actually did go to; can you imagine if we’d actually eaten at two more pizzerias?

Anyway, in this second pizza round up of three very different pizzerias, Roberta’s wins again.

Bene Pizza — 157 Prospect Park Southwest, Brooklyn
Roberta’s — 261 Moore St, Brooklyn
Toby’s Public House — 686 6th Ave, Brooklyn

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