Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Table 87, Brooklyn
It's rare that I do a blog post about a pizzeria hundreds of miles from Rochester, but on a recent weekend visit to New York City I visited a place in Brooklyn that's worth writing about.
I was staying in Brooklyn at 3B, which itself is worth a review; it's a B&B in a third-floor walkup, in a good location, with a friendly staff and fantastic breakfasts (I actually departed from my pizza-only diet to enjoy their breakfast food, and I'm not even typically a breakfast eater).
I had, of course, done some advance research, and so I knew about Table 87 on Atlantic Avenue. It's one of the few places in the City where you can get coal-fired slices (as opposed to a whole pie).
At this point I should mention that, as NYC pizza aficionados will know, and someone would likely point out if I didn't say it first, a few blocks away, you can get what is reputed to be one of the City's best slices at Di Fara's. Di Fara's is widely regarded as among the finest pizzerias in the City.
Had I been staying longer, or had my hotel been closer, I might've gone there. But as it was, I had limited time, it would've been a long walk (or an inconvenient subway ride, which also would've added to the cost of Di Fara's $5 slices), and after reading about hour-long, or longer, waits at Di Fara's, I just wasn't inclined to make the trek up there.
So I am not comparing Table 87's slices with Di Fara's. I have no basis for comparison. What I can say is that Table 87 serves terrific coal-fired slices without a long wait, at a lower price than Di Fara's.
I stopped in on a Friday night, and was able to get a Margherita slice right away, no waiting at all, except for the slice to be reheated. It was $4, pricey compared to the average slice joint, even in NYC, but not bad for coal-fired pizza; buying and maintaining a coal oven isn't cheap, so I expect to pay some premium.
I'm sure you can make bad pizza in a coal-fired oven as easily as in a gas or electric oven, but this slice lived up to the promise of coal-fired, NY-style pizza. It was spottily charred and crackly underneath, with a slightly smoky, toasty aroma. The fresh mozzarella was nicely melted, and the tomatoes and basil were heated through but not overcooked.
And far from the Seinfeld soup-Nazi stories I've read about some pizza places in NYC, the staff here was very friendly and accommodating, even before they found out that I was a food blogger. Check out this video to get a sense of their light-hearted yet serious approach to pizza.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert on New York City pizza. It's a vast pizza universe, and although I've had plenty of slices, and shared a few pies, in the City, I know that I've only scratched the surface.
But I do think that I've had enough pizza to have a pretty solid basis for knowing what's good. And Table 87 is good. Better than good. I don't know when my travels will take me downstate next, but Table 87 has been added to my go-to list, and if you're planning a trip to NYC, it should be on yours as well.
Table 87, 87 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn
Sun. - Thu. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.