Emmy Squared, Detroit-Style Pizza in Williamsburg
Apr 27th, 2016 by donuts4dinner

To me, the Clinton Hill pizzeria Emily is famous because my neighbor and her husband own it. My boyfriend and I started going there because they offered everyone in our building a free dessert, and there aren’t many places I wouldn’t go for a free s’mores calzone. We kept going to Emily because it turned out the pizza was really the epitome of what great NY wood-fired pizza can be, with an airy, crisp crust that wasn’t hard and overly chewy. And then all of NYC went there, too, not only for the funky pizza concoctions (like the Colony with pickled chilis and honey) but for the award-winning burger that the Internet couldn’t stop talking about. Now there’s Emmy Squared in Williamsburg, an offshoot offering Detroit-style pizza because it wasn’t enough for Matt Hyland to just be a master of NY pies.

Emmy Squared

Emmy Squared

Emmy Squared
crispy cheddar curds

These things must be triple-battered, for all of the crunchy stuff that falls off of them onto the plate as you pull them apart. Growing up in Ohio, we asked for “extra crispy stuff” or “more crunchies” at Long John Silver’s to get a little pile of fried batter on the side of our hush puppies. These are the adult version of that. Dip those little nuggets of cheese into your spicy “sammy” sauce or tomato sauce, and don’t forget the crispies.

Emmy Squared
The Emmy — mozzarella, banana peppers, onions, ranch, side of tomato sauce for dipping

Emmy Squared
Glorious thick crust, loads of toppings, I love you.

Emmy Squared

Emmy Squared
Angel Pie — mozzarella, ricotta, mushrooms, Truffleist mushroom cream

Emmy Squared
Roni Supreme — sauce, mozzarella, lots of pepperoni, calabrian chiles

When I was a kid in Ohio (and truthfully, up until about five years ago), Pizza Hut was my favorite pizza. The popular pizzas in Ohio–Donatos, Massey’s, every mom and pop shop in my little town–had the Midwestern cracker crust, but if my pizza wasn’t piled on an inch of bread, I wasn’t interested. Emmy Squared takes the idea of that pan pizza and makes it so your stomach won’t explode. It has that same crust that rises up along the side of the baking pan, but here, the cheese spills over the side and fries up crispy to give the crust a crunch and a buttery-ness that you can’t get with wood-fired pizza. And the dough at Emmy Squared isn’t a brick that expands in your stomach; it’s a light, airy thing just weighty enough to support the loads of toppings.

I ordered the Roni Supreme to harken back to those days when we used to use the crispy curled-edge pepperoni of Ohio pizzas as bowls for other toppings. It wasn’t for the faint of heart, with clumps of chile seeds to make your eyes water. My boyfriend’s mom got the Angel Pie, because mushrooms are a hot commodity back in her native Poland, where every member of the household is a fungus-picking expert in the forest. We all loved the texture of the ricotta and the sauce replacement of truffle cream. But our favorite was The Emmy, which we added sausage to like hedonists. But of course it was going to be our favorite, because it had all of the best things in life: banana peppers, red onions, and RANCH. Homemade ranch, with extra herbs in it to make it green. I didn’t even know there was a way to make regular ranch better. I couldn’t stop exclaiming about how this was my new favorite pizza. And it wasn’t just the Moscow Mules talking.

Emmy Squared

Emmy Squared

Remember GreenBox from an episode of “Shark Tank“? Emmy Squared uses them! How environmentally responsible and convenient!

Emmy Squared

Emmy Squared
364 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211 (map)

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” Made Me Want to Eat and Cry
Aug 8th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

I entirely understand why the marketing team for Walt Disney Studios and Dreamworks Pictures invited me to a screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey starring Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, and Om Puri last week. Even as a food-obsessed avid moviegoer, I wasn’t planning to see the movie in the theater. I wanted to watch it eventually, sure, but it looked like one of those feel-good, fun-for-the-entire-family films that I could enjoy from the comfort of my living room while also browsing Twitter. It was feel-good, and your whole family probably will like it, but it’s so, so much more than that. It made me feel so many feelings. I had tears in my eyes for about 75% of it, and I had tears on my cheeks for the rest of it. It was unexpectedly beautiful and a must-see for anyone who’s passionate about cooking and food.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

Nitehawk Cinema is an eat-in movie theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where servers bring food right to your seat throughout the show. You share a small table with the person next to you and write your order on slips of paper that attach to the front of the table and that the servers watch for while the movie’s playing.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

The menu is full of new American classics like burgers and Carolina BBQ short rib sandwiches, familiar sides like tator tots with a twist in the form of queso and scallions, favorites from other cultures like quesadillas and empanadas, plus some frou frou farro and kale salads for the health-conscious. There are themed food and drink specials to go along with each movie, and sure, being served a meat and cheese tray in the midst of a film can be a little distracting, but I’m not complaining when I’m chomping chorizo a minute later. Plus, the theater plays these amazing retro ads and old movie mashups before the show that are better than any preview.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

That night, we were served two types of popcorn to enjoy during the movie: herbes de Provence popcorn to represent the French cooking, and curry popcorn to represent the Indian.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

Likewise, I had a glass of sauvignon blanc, and my boyfriend had a Kingfisher beer.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

It’s hard for me to say exactly why the movie hit me so hard. Maybe it’s because Indian food was the first “ethnic cuisine” I ate when I left my tiny farming town and moved to the city, and I still remember what it was like for me to taste samosas and kormas and dosas as an adult who had grown up eating only American food. There’s this moment at the very beginning of the film where the young Hassan races through the streets of India, trying to catch a man who’s bringing sea urchin to a stall in the market. The moment he pops open the shell and smells uni for the first time, and his face melts into bliss–I know what that feels like.

Or maybe it’s that my Michelin-starred restaurant experiences have been so meaningful to me. I absolutely loved this scene where the director was trying to show the difference between the hearty, rustic Indian cuisine by panning over big pots full of curry at the Indian family restaurant and then cutting to a clean white plate spotted with tiny foods barely big enough to cover a spoon at the Michelin restaurant across the street. Later, we’re shown a sleek, supposedly soulless restaurant in Paris using molecular gastronomy techniques, where the clientele constantly demands style over substance. And I love all of those things! At that moment, I felt so lucky to have grown up eating the food of my family, the incredibly newfangled food at restaurants like Atera and wd-50, and the classic teeny tiny foods at Per Se and Eleven Madison Park.

I’ll stop giving away everything in the movie, but the scene that really made me tear up was the one where Hassan opens up his family’s spice box full of their own special blends, and I didn’t recognize a single word on any of the jars, and my heart was filled with all of this joy over secret family recipes and the fact that with all I’ve eaten, there’s so much more I have to eat.

This movie made me fall even more in love with food, family, and France. The acting was fantastic, the characters seemed real, and the entire audience laughed all the way through it. I understand why the marketing team for Walt Disney Studios and Dreamworks Pictures invited me to a screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey, because you can’t fit how wonderful this movie is into a 30-second preview.

It opens nationwide today, and if you’re a food lover of any kind, I hope you’ll go see it.

Saltie – Sandwiches – Williamsburg
Sep 29th, 2010 by plumpdumpling

My friend Meredith and I live mere blocks from each other in Brooklyn, but since my dining is done almost exclusively in Manhattan, I rely on her to tell me what’s good in the neighborhood. She recently recommended the sandwich shop Saltie, saying, “I had their Scuttlebutt sandwich 2 weeks ago and CAN’T stop thinking about it.”

I don’t do olives, so instead I tried the Clean Slate, and OMG, you guys, I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.

Saltie NY Clean Slate

It’s hummus, quinoa, pickles, and yogurt on naan, and the memories of its craveable sourness just keeps invading my brain. $8 seemed a little steep to me until I got the thing and saw that the amount of filling they put on the bread makes it more like a sandwich and its own side dishes. It’s sweet, it’s crunchy, it’s oozy, it’s messy, and IT WILL BE MINE again.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne-Half Star

The shop itself is quintessential New Williamsburg, a tiny little storefront with benches enough to seat 10 normal-sized people or 20 hipsters. Just take a look at their contact info or click on the picture of the menu on their site, and you’ll get a great idea of the cute atmosphere of the place.

378 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211 (map)

Restaurant Review: Lodge
Apr 27th, 2010 by plumpdumpling

My friend Meredith and I decided to go to Lodge in our Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg one night last week to celebrate a cool restaurant not being on the cool-saturated Bedford Ave. She’d been there once a year ago for brunch and wasn’t impressed, but she left deciding that she wanted to come back and try more of the dishes, so I’d say it was a success.

deviled eggs with plenty of chives

• I’m so into the fact that deviled eggs are a popular thing right now. These were probably the best I’ve had lately thanks to their extreme chiviness. The added texture was a welcome treat, too.

pulled pork

• This was less like pulled pork and more like pulled pork soup. I’m the kind of girl who likes a little Kansas City in her barbeque, so I wasn’t totally averse to the extra sauce, but this would’ve overwhelmed someone who prefers their sauce as a mop or a side. The meat was just the right amount of fatty, and there was still plenty of burnt-end flavor, but I’d probably tell them to make it not-so-sloppy next time.

Brussels sprouts with MUSHROOMS

• Why are there mushrooms in my Brussels sprouts?! And why are they not mentioned on the menu?! Neither Meredith nor I were very pleased with this, especially since little burned Brussels sprouts bits look like mushrooms, and I accidentally ate one. Not that it tasted bad or anything, because mushrooms are actually kind of delicious, but I don’t eat them because of their ugliness.

gouda mac & cheese

• Just look at that flaky topping. This more-mac-than-cheese tasted slightly bacony to me, but there was no bacon to be found in it, so maybe they used a smoked gouda that deceived me. This was meant to be a side dish but more than served as Meredith’s main, so A+ for value.

It’s a very neighborhoody kind of place, with a family at one table and a group of twentysomethings celebrating a birthday at another. It’s on a quiet but not uninhabited corner, and the people-watching–guessing whether a girl actually liked the rumbly 50s-era car her date was driving, a Satmar Jew looking completely lost for five minutes but unwilling to stop anyone for help–from walls of solid glass was top-notch. The service was totally unpretentious and even verging on friendly, my giant bottle of pear cider was only $10, and they were playing Spoon on the overhead speakers. Sold.

318 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211 (map)

Restaurant Review: Motorino Williamsburg (the original, sucka)
Nov 2nd, 2009 by plumpdumpling

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.

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