Motorino, a much-talked about pizza place in Williamsburg, recently opened up a second branch in the space formerly occupied by Una Pizza Napoletana in the East Village. Motorino has been on my list of places to try, but a recent strong endorsement from some coworkers (though they based it on the Brooklyn branch, which is of course cheaper), pushed it to the top of my list and I decided to check it out for lunch. Motorino has a lunch prix-fixe special: For $12, you can choose salad or ice cream and your choice of the Marinara, Margherita, Brussels sprouts or Soppressata pizza.
We went for the simple salads dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette and the Margherita and Brussels sprout pizzas. Both pizzas had a great-tasting crust - the chewy dough was salty and charred (though a bit too much in places) and permeated with the flavor of the hot oven.
But the Margherita pizza was boring — neither the cheese nor the sauce was spectacular. The pie just felt too mellow and flat. The basil didn't even raise it a notch. With such simple ingredients, the sauce really needs to stand out.
The Brussels sprout pizza topped with Brussels sprout leaves, smoked pancetta, garlic and pecorino fared much better. I loved the pancetta on here, the saltiness and smokiness paired well with the crust, and the cheese was stronger. The one downside: all these toppings made the middle of the crust somewhat soggy and a soggy crust is what brings down a lot of pizzas for me.
Motorino's pizza is very different from the super thin crust of Vezzo, but when I have a craving, I'm still going to head to Vezzo first. If I were in the neighborhood or in the mood for this type of pizza, I'd be happy to stop by. But there are still other vaunted New York pizzas — DiFara's, Lombardi's, Roberta's etc. — that I must try.