In Brooklyn, pizza is the quintessential fast food. People discuss and defend it as vehemently as they defend their favorite baseball team. One may ask where’s the best ‘za in Brooklyn? Oh, but is it worth waiting in line? Who makes the best crust? Whose sauce is the freshest? Is it coal-fired or brick oven pizza? And, Brooklynites claim world dominance over pizza and hero sandwiches despite the ever-changing culinary scene of the NBC—New Brooklyn Cuisine. Still pizza wizards with names like Carmine perform ancient pizza rituals and claim starry-eyed followers for generations. No matter where they may roam, people from Coney Island, Carroll Gardens, Bed Stuy, Midwood, Greenpoint, Prospect Park and Williamsburg—the old hoods can wax poetic when asked about their favorite pizza joints.
So, it’s not without some street chutzpah that one names their restaurant Brooklyn Joe’s Pizza, Pasta & Grill without the ever-so-likely possibility of being called out on it. During my visit, I wanted a genuine Brooklyn slice with Italian sausage—my litmus test. Firstly, the slice was huge, hot and dripping with melted mozzarella cheese. The crust was perfectly crisp and chewy at the same time. Before I was finished the first slice, I flagged the server to put in my order for a second one. Yeah, that good.
Here is what I will return to Brooklyn Joe’s for: The Brooklyn Dodger—a basil pesto pizza topped with chicken, roasted red peppers, artichokes, black olives, bruschetta tomatoes, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses; The New Yorker—a red sauced pizza with pepperoni, meatballs, sausage, ham, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, garlic, onions and extra cheese. I suspect that the very creative 5th Avenue Pie with chipotle ranch sauce with chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, red onions, artichoke hearts, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses will bring me tears of sheer pleasure. These are just three from Brooklyn Joe’s list of 13 “out of the park” creations.
The rest of the menu is sure to satisfy the broadest of tastes. The appetizers are normal fare with two outliers of note: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Dip ($6.50) and the Fried Calamari ($8.95). From among the salad selections, check out the Ebbet’s Field, a huge bed of mixed greens with a mango pineapple vinaigrette dressing with grilled chicken, gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and sliced apples, known by other names, but magnificent nonetheless. The Chopped Antipasto Salad is a bowl of mixed greens with chopped ham, salami, cappicola, Provolone cheese, tomatoes with roasted red peppers and kalamata olives ($8.95).
If it’s wings you crave, Brooklyn Joe’s has them with sauce that is mild, medium, hot and deadly. You’ve been warned. The Deli Sandwiches are 12 in number with the Corned Beef on Rye, a Brooklyn favorite is a “must try” ($7.95). From the “Heros” selections, the tried and true Sausage, Peppers and Onions Hero has been known to cause midnight cravings and the Famous Italian Combo: a regular sub served hot (“grinder”) or cold is the mainstay of any respectable pizza parlor ($7.95). Here, the 10-inch sub roll is crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside and heaped with ham, salami, cappicola, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, oil and vinegar—no mayonnaise allowed!
The Pasta Creations, a section of this aggressive menu offers a wide variety of pastas with your choice of sauces: Marinara, Meat Sauce, Meatballs, Italian Sausage, Cardinale Sauce, Alfredo, and Broccoli, Garlic and Oil to which you can match with all manner of pastas. You can choose, spaghetti, Cappellini, Bowtie, Penne, Whole Wheat Penne and Gluten Free Penne. Further along under The Pasta Bowl, Joe’s Ravioli is a star with pasta pillows stuffed with ricotta cheese, herbs, meat sauce and chunks of meatballs ($8.95-Lunch; $9.95-Dinner).
Have a party coming up in the near future? Brooklyn Joe’s can cater your affair with the same delicious salads, sandwiches, pasta entrees, baked and specialty pastas and desserts.
Grimaldi’s (reputed to have the best pizza in Brooklyn) is 896 miles from Canton, GA, but there is no need to pack your bags or gas up the car, just head on over to 2060 Cumming Highway, order the pizza of your choice and close your eyes.