Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Brunch Bets: Motorino Pizza (Williamsburg)
Heralded pizzaolo, Mathieu Palombino's Motorino is a favorite of mine (and many others) for his irresistible Neapolitan-style pies crafted with a sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes, creamy fior di latte and charred, chewy crusts. But pizza for brunch? I say, why not? In fact, pizza may be one item that has managed to seamlessly infiltrate its way into breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hell, I've even seen dessert pizza. So a few weeks ago, after waking with a fierce craving for pizza mixed with a desire not to stray too far, I decided to hit up the original Motorino located on Graham Avenue in Williamsburg.
Instead of dealing with the long lines and cramped quarters of their East Village outpost, the Williamsburg location was spacious and had a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere that's welcomed in a great brunch spot. The restaurant was about half full so MW and I were able to pick a table next to the restaurant's warm pizza oven. With football on TV, and a relatively large bar for a pizza joint, this was already shaping up to be a solid choice. A quick scan of the menu revealed an incredible brunch special - your choice of juice or bloody mary mix ($3 extra for Prosecco or vodka) and two different breakfast pies - for a mere $11! Having already tried their great lunch special, we were tempted, but ultimately passed, ordering a la carte instead.
To start we decided to share an antipasti. The Octopus Salad with Fingerling Potatoes, Red Onion, Celery, Capers and Chili Oil is an old favorite and tasted as good as I remembered. The tender chunks of octopus, seasoned ever-so slightly with chili oil and a squeeze of lemon, mixed nicely with the creamy fingerlings and crunchy onions and celery.
Deciding against two pies that featured eggs was difficult, but our restraint gave us another reason to return. Ultimately, we chose the featured seasonal pizzas. The Crimini with Crimini Mushrooms, Fior de Latte, Spicy Sausage, Garlic, Thyme and Pecorino was the least successful of the two, which isn't to say that it wasn't good, just not as good as the other pizza. The earthy flavor of the mushrooms, combined with the savory sausage and herbs were great, but the moisture from the mushrooms resulted in a soggy pie. The portions of crust spared from the excess moisture were incredible as always, chewy, salty and just a bit smokey from the ridiculously hot wood-burning oven.
By now, Motorino's Brussels Sprout pizza made with Fior de Latte, Smoked Pancetta, Garlic and Pecorino has obtained cult-like status amongst its supporters. This is with good reason. The pie, freckled with caramelized brussels sprout leaves, looked delicious as the smokey scent of the pancetta acted as a catalyst for our hunger. My first bite elicited memories of my initial experience, noting how well the sweet sprouts worked with the crispy pancetta and salty cheese. Chili oil (provided upon request) was the totally unnecessary, but nonetheless delicious addition to the pie.
In keeping with the brunch theme, MW and I decided to split an order of the Fire Roasted Double Smoked Bacon Slab. The bacon was alright, but nothing special. It was thicker than your typical breakfast variety, but thinner than what you'd expect to find from Luger or similar steakhouses. The meat had a prominent smoke flavor but was a bit too chewy for my tastes, perfectly suitable but nothing to seek out.
All in all, from the relatively spacious atmosphere to the great pies created in its spectacular oven, Motorino Williamsburg is a solid alternative to all of those run-of-the-mill brunch destinations. Whether your take advantage of their brunch special or go a la carte as we did, the Brooklyn location is my preferred spot over the Manhattan location any day.
Motorino Pizza (Williamsburg)
319 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
To see all the pictures from this meal click HERE.