Monday, November 30, 2009

Motorino Review

Pizza is one of my favorite foods; I can eat it repeatedly without fast tiring of it (though were I challenged to eat pizza for every meal every day for a month, like this guy, I'm not sure I would succeed). Living in New York, it might seem that I should be easily satisfied because this is a pizza town, if there ever was one. But the city is so saturated with bad pizza places, it's hard to find the good slices among them. Not to mention all the different styles of pizza - thin crust, wood-burning oven or odd toppings. Luckily, my favorite pizza place in New York so far, Vezzo, is not far from me. But I'm always looking to try the pizza places that are getting a lot of attention to see if they can exceed my expectations or supplant my favorite pizza.

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.


  1. Anonymous1:20 PM

    would be tough to top vezzo

  2. so strange that the "B" in Brussels sprout is capitalized. and that it is brussels, not brussel.

    also, that pizza sounds delish.