I haven’t read a single negative review of Brooklyn’s Motorino yet in the year it’s been open. With my apartment literally around the corner from it, I was as excited as anyone to see a hip, sit-down, candlelit pizzaria open in a neighborhood full of ones you’d never take a date to unless it was specifically because you never planned to ask him out again and wanted him to know it.
When it comes to ambiance, Motorino is the best thing the Graham Avenue L train stop has going for it. Dark wood, cozy but not overcrowded quarters, a nice outdoor deck area, and a good-looking waitstaff who isn’t afraid to defend the fact that the place doesn’t serve pepperoni. The brick oven is in plain view of the dining room and creates a nice warmth, the bar is spacious, and the overall feel is nouveau speakeasy. Big fan.
Only I haven’t met anyone who actually thinks the pizza is all it’s made out to be. As far as I can tell, one really popular food critic praised it, a few more followed suit, and then every food blogger and her brother followed suit. The sauce is too mild, the cheese only covers about a quarter of the crust, and you know, brick oven pizza is all crunchy and burnt.
However, they do have tons of toppings that interest me. The speck and Brussels sprouts pizza was a favourite for its crispy leaves and salty ham, as was the prosciutto for its prosciuttoiness. There’s also mortadella, broccolini and sausage, and plenty of anchovies for the kids.
Both of the first two times I visited, I went for the $14 calzone, which is filled with sausage, parsley, and too much garlic and is as large as your head. Literally. I seriously love a calzone and was puuuuuuuuuuuumped to tear into the thing, but it was such a disappointment. There was supposed to be cheese inside, but I found none; the crumbled sausage seemed to be held together by nothing, and I had a hard time keeping any of it on my fork. There was no sauce, neither inside nor on the plate. The crust was fine, but there was way too much of it to have such dry ingredients inside. The only positive was the fresh basil sprinkled on top of the whole thing.
The gelato and sorbets we’ve tried from their list have all been fine, but Fortunato Brothers is right down the street, and they have twice the flavors for half the price. Motorino does have special daily desserts that always entice me, though, like figs drenched in honey with mint leaves.
The important thing to remember here is that even just okay pizza is delicious, and I’m excited that Motorino is having success in the neighborhood if it means more thoughtful restaurants will move to my street instead of Bedford Ave. And I can’t deny the satisfied looks on my friends’ faces.