Something about Clinton Hill attracts upstart pizza makers who modernize anachronistic ingredients, and I’m all for it. The Provel cheese used at Speedy Romeo taps into some part of my soul, despite having zero roots in St. Louis. Processed cheese is one thing. Bell peppers are quite another.
The ground pork sausage and still crunchy green peppers (mushrooms are ok) on The Camp Randall at Emily dredges up the unsavory past. At least there were no canned black olives and the cheese curds were unexpected. Even though the combo made me want to cry, I do appreciate the presence of a midwestern “supreme” pizza among the taleggio, prosciutto and honey.
I kept quiet, though, because I’d picked the pasta and didn’t want to be a ordering control freak while dining with a semi-ex-boyfriend. The spaghetti was al dente and crazy rich as you’d expect from ‘nduja, uni and pistachios. It was the crushed nuts, oddly, that stood out the most. The sea urchin and spreadable spicy sausage lost their distinctiveness and instead lent an overall creaminess. It looks to be a work in progress; the current iteration keeps the ‘nduja and adds curry leaves and a poached egg instead.
The kale hegemony is finally complete. I was warned about a change in the kale salad even though I wasn’t ordering the kale salad. It’s now just assumed that all diners will order the kale salad (our neighbors did). No, break free and get the hearty greens in a mustardy vinaigrette with crispy ribbons of fried pig ears that act as a bacony crouton. Interestingly, 1 Knickerbocker has a similar salad that contains curry leaves. Curry leaves and pig ears are already hot in 2014.
The service is as nice as can be, the neighborhood could use new restaurants and the pizzas have great potential–do not take my personal food aversions to be a condemnation.
Emily * 919 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY