Roberta’s – Mini Quest Part 2
Note: For a recap, scroll down the homepage past the halfway point, to read about Dave’s and my visit to Di Faro’s, which is Part One of our NYC Mini-Quest:Dave and I had to force ourselves to stop eating pizza at Di Fara’s. This was no easy task. You’re sitting there in front of what is a “perfect” pizza in a “perfect” place and you have to stop eating so that you can eat more somewhere else. We had a plan though, so we put the brakes on in order to make this a quest and not just lunch.
We left Brooklyn to get to Brooklyn. As I mentioned, there was just no getting a cab from Di Fara. We walked around looking for about 20-30 minutes. So, we jumped back on the train and headed back to Manhattan to grab a train to come back out to Brooklyn to hit Roberta’s for our second stop on our mini pizza quest. Perhaps there should be a Pizza Quest train line put in that better connects some of New York’s best pizzerias? Am I the first to come up with this? There is one pizza maniac that comes to mind who has made a living making these connections, but more on that later.It really is too bad we didn’t have Peter, Jeff and the rest of the crew with us. We were having a ball. Di Fara’s left us completely satisfied — and, in reality, a little too satisfied. We had started out with a plan to taste the pizza at Di Fara, but as it ended up, it became more of us eating the pizza. I’m sure you can imagine. When we left we couldn’t just leave the rest of it there or, God forbid, throw it away! So, with our foil-wrapped leftovers we moved on.
Another train ride, a change of lines in Manhattan and we were headed back to Brooklyn. We popped up from under the streets not far from Roberta’s and into what seemed like a set from the film The Warriors at first. Robertas is in an old warehouse district neighborhood called Bushwick, that had seen better days, but is coming back with a young artist scene moving in and transforming this into a trendy neighborhood. I was telling Dave what Peter told me before we came to NYC. He said Roberta’s was like walking into the TV show Portlandia. He didn’t say it was like visiting Portland. His point was far more metaphorical. There was a coming transformation from the “real” world to the two dimensional surreal world of Portlandia. If you haven’t seen it, you should. My favorite episode is when the main character discovers Portland and describes it to a friend in LA as if it’s a place you must enter through a portal in time! Our first steps onto the street and I was starting to see what he meant. When we turned the corner and almost walked right by Roberta’s it again made more sense. Here we were. There’s a sign that says Roberta’s right there. The exterior of the building looks more like a set from Gotham City with graffiti all over it and a sign that almost seems like they are hiding it. It was time to go in, but we still had our leftover pizza from Di Fara’s that we had hoped to give to someone along the way, but never ran into anyone who seemed interested. We couldn’t bring our Di Fara’s into Roberta’s! So, we left it on a mailbox, hoping someone would pick it up. We found out later that night that someone did indeed pick it up and our offering did not go to waste, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.
Having spent plenty of time in Portland, we had another laugh about Peter’s description as we took our seat at one of the picnic tables inside. (We love Portland, by the way. We have some serious questing to do up there eventually.) We all want a great place to sit and have a beer a great pizza and maybe, more importantly, just hang out with friends. Roberta’s is that place. They are getting rave reviews about their pizza and food, but I think a major aspect of this place’s success (being fairly off the beaten path), is it’s qualities as a place where you can come and spend some time. It doesn’t feel like home — it feels like Portlandia — but it has a certain comfort factor as if you’ve come into this special place and found a hidden secret. It feels local and full of regulars. It was Saturday afternoon and it was busy and continued to get more busy.Our first order of business after all this travel was to order a couple of beers. When you’re in Portland, I mean Brooklyn, do as they do. We then ordered a couple of pies to “try” — you know, we were there to do some tasting now in the second part of our three part mini pizza quest. We chose the “Bee Sting” with Tomato, Mozz, Sopressata, chili, basil, honey, and another with Tomato, Mozz, Speck, and a sunny side up egg. I think that was a special.
Delicious! The dough is terrific and their ingredients balanced. I loved the touch of honey on our Bee Sting and if there’s an egg on a pizza on the menu, I’m going to order it. It was “done to a turn!” Two morebeers. Too much pizza now. Did we have a third Beer? I don’t think so. We were drunk — pizza drunk! We thought we may have gone too far and ended our quest a little early. How could we make it back to Manhattan and get to Keste and order more pizza after all of this?!
It was time to go. We managed to leave some pizza on the platters. As we were walking out the door, I was looking back over my shoulder to grab a last look at the place. We were, after all, about to leave Portlandia and step through the front door and back to our three dimensional selves. I hadn’t left yet and didn’t want to leave the memories behind. As I turned I heard a voice I recognized. We passed each other but my back was turned. I had only met this voice a few weeks ago, but it had to be him.“Scott?”
It was! The Scott Wiener of New York’s — Scott’s Pizza Tours (www.scottspizzatours.com) had just walked in as we were walking out. He’s the pizza maniac I mentioned above. I met Scott in Las Vegas at the Pizza Expo and had traded emails here and there. If I’m a pizza nut, he is the tree. He’s off the charts pizza crazy. Well, I turned Dave around and we went back to Portlandia to have another beer with Scott and his friends. I think we may have had two. Dave was ready to go get his camera and come back and start filming as Scott regaled us with Pizza lore.I think our favorite part was how he wrestled with having a slice of our left overs. You see, he has a pizza slice log on his phone to track how many slices he eats in a week. He gives pizza tours daily (Scott’s Pizza Tours) after all, and without that log he would not be able to walk! He took the slice anyway even though he was already over his weekly slice limit! Not only that, where is he hanging out in his free time? Roberta’s — love it!!
This should have ended here. We enjoyed another beer and some good conversation with Scott and his friends in the outside bar of Roberta’s. This should be part 2 and 3 of our mini pizza quest. We started hours ago and had been eating great pizza and now had a few drinks in us.
It wasn’t. We said our good byes and walked a little slower out the door this time heading back to the city to visit Keste Pizzeria on Bleecker Street. Dave hadn’t been and this looked like our only chance. As we left we saw that our offering of Di Fara slices still sat on the mail box. We smiled and walked down the street thinking back on the two pizza stops we made in the last few hours. We felt like time had stopped in Di Fara’s Pizza World and we transcended space and time visiting Roberta’s world.
This had been quite a day already.
But, it wasn’t over. In fact, it wouldn’t really be over for some time, not until after we got back from our next stop – Keste Pizzeria. I was just getting to my hotel room and I got a text. It turns out that our offering had finally found it’s proper home! See final photo, below — ahh, Portlandia….
Pizza Quest Info
Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.
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