Pete’s of Brooklyn
Calzones in the ’hood
You know the cartoon pizza chef who wears a white toque with his ears sticking out and a smile that takes up half his face? The one who sends dough soaring toward the ceiling in dizzying swirls? Well, Burque now has its own such pizzaiolo.
On Central at Rhode Island is a little place squeezed between a storefront church and a smoke shop. The only tell of a restaurant is a simple sign, “Pizza” scrawled across it. Go inside and you’ll find Pete from Brooklyn slinging dough for Brooklyn thick-crusts and New York thin-crusts. It’s small, and the location lends itself to a certain clientele (more on that in a minute). Both attributes conspire for a charm all its own.
With only a handful of tables and walls decked with posters depicting tomato and bread varieties (you know exactly what I’m talking about), the neighborhood-joint feel is palpable. The fact that the neighborhood in question is East Central could be problematic for some diners. On my visits, a few panhandlers ambled in; one sold me a framed photo of two cute little girls (no relation to him) for the bargain price of $5. Pete bought a matching one. He acknowledged he’s got a colorful customer base, all right. He seemed especially amused that hookers drop into his place for a quick slice. Hey, a working girl’s got to eat, right?
Along with those lovely cloves, the thin-crusted Supreme pizza sported mushrooms, onions, “green chili” (he’s new to the area, so give him a minute to figure it out) and pepperoni.
Knowing how to order Pete’s pizza is key. You have two choices: Brooklyn or New York. The Brooklyn crust, thicker than traditional New York style, was doughy. It just didn’t do it for me. But the New York thin crust came out of the oven crisp and blistered.
While all the usual suspects are yours for the topping, I’d like to give a shout-out to plain ol’ cheese. Really, it’s not so plain. There was a nice surprise crowning the standard-issue cheese and sauce (more like tomato chunks, really). Outshining the cheese by a thousand watts were whole cloves of roasted garlic. It was damn good, even if it doesn’t make for an ideal dinner date. Throw caution to the wind, garlic lovers.
Along with those lovely cloves, the thin-crusted Supreme pizza sported mushrooms, onions, “green chili” (he’s new to the area, so give him a minute to figure it out) and pepperoni. Here’s where perception comes into play. If you like your mushrooms juicy and soft, you’d call these undercooked. But I know a few weirdos who prefer their shrooms firm and fresh, which these were. You can tell which camp I’m in. Even with the fungus faux pas, it wasn’t a bad pie.
Pete’s big winner was the vegetarian calzone. Red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach and “green chili peppers” were stuffed into a crust with mozzarella, ricotta and grated Parmesan. When I cut open the calzone, I was immediately struck by the contrast of white cheese—the bulk of it ricotta—against fresh, vibrantly green spinach. No canned shrooms or frozen veggies here. The crust was gorgeous (more so than the pizza), with an outer layer that seemed almost fried. It was an excellent calzone. Best I’ve had in a long time.
The Alibi recommends:
• New York thin-crust pizza, especially cheese
• Vegetarian calzone
• Enjoying the colorful clientele and maybe, just maybe, buying a new “friend” lunch
Pete’s of Brooklyn, 8007 Central NE, 489-1455. Hours: Tue 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Wed 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thu-Sat 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Closed Sun and Mon. Price range: $1.50 (cheese pizza slice) to $14.75 (large Supreme pizza). Ambience: No-frills mobster hangout. Cash only, delivery available.