Motorino was one of the two new wave pizzerias that made The Village Voice blog’s (not sure why I can’t just say Fork in the Road but it doesn’t sound right) recent top ten list. I can see why. I’d swap it for Lucali, mere blocks from my apartment, if such feats were possible. With its overly eager patrons huddled outside, that Henry Street star has completely discouraged me from paying a visit for quite some time. Now, I assume all well-regarded pizza places will be equally prohibitive. Not so, Motorino. On a Wednesday evening there were plenty of free tables, no problems, no nonsense.
If you ever read lame diet advice for fun (I’m still not cool with epicurious recommending only eating three bites of your food to lose weight. Yes, duh, but really?) you’ll be familiar with all the menu descriptors that signal you should stay away from an item—obvious stuff like crispy, smothered, breaded, etc. I’m certain that bacon-wrapped would make such a list but everyone knows that phrase usually signals deliciousness. This creamy, salty and gooey appetizer was a promising start. Hmm, and realistically these figs enrobed in smoked porky strips dotted with crumbly goat cheese fit the three-bite restriction if divvied up amongst three diners like I had at my table. We followed up the tiny decadence with a simple arugula salad.
I do like that both purist and non-traditional pies are available because I lean more toward the latter. Of course, I can also appreciate the simplicity of a margherita, and we opted for the version with flor di latte rather than mozzarella di bufala. The proportions of ingredients seemed just right with nothing dominating. I guess the crust was a little puffy (I happened to be with a crust avoider and didn’t think about this until I saw the uneaten remnants sitting on his plate) and took up space that could’ve been devoted to more toppings. The pizza was overwhelming good, despite a bit of sog in the middle of the pie. The flimsiness didn’t even detract. And I certainly ate more than three bites.
The soppressata piccante also used cow’s milk mozzarella, as well as spicy sausage, garlic and chile oil. The little charred rounds of soppressata added character you don’t get from pepperoni and the spiked oil added a layer of fresh hotness that complemented the sausage. When we asked for crushed pepper we didn’t only receive a small dish of flakes but also extra slivered red chiles in oil.
I would like to try the cured meats and cheeses so another visit is definitely in order. I left feeling happy (though that could’ve had something to do with the $5 glasses of pinot noir), happy enough to check out goth night at Legion up the street. I’m still coming to terms with 40-something men in full-on make up, teased hair and brooches spinning Siouxsie and the Banshees for 22-year-old guys in denim shortalls and espadrilles.
Motorino * 319 Graham Ave., Brooklyn, NY