Sottocasa: Pie (Oven) in the Sky

Boerum Hill gets itself a new Neapolitan pizzeria

It's not every day you see a 4,000-pound oven flying three stories above Boerum Hill. But that's how Luca Arrigoni had to install the stove at Sottocasa, his new Brooklyn pizzeria.

The wood-fired beast had to be crane-lifted over the building and lowered into the backyard because the old floors of the brownstone space on Atlantic Avenue couldn't handle the weight. Walls were then built out around the hearth so that the pizzaiolo could whip up the types of Neapolitan pies he learned to make while working at Kesté; in Greenwich Village.

Families gravitate to the sparsely decorated, whitewashed brick room, along with couples celebrating date night and groups of friends downing prosecco and divvying up slices. Solo diners linger over the newspaper in the afternoon when the sun streams in through the windows and bounces off the tight clusters of tables. Indeed, you'll find everyone in the neighborhood. You won't discover life-changing pizza or much you can't nosh on elsewhere, but the chefs here prize high-quality ingredients, resulting in the type of tasty, cozy spot you're more than happy to have around the corner. (And yes, they also deliver.)

You may dine on the chef's wife.
Liz Barclay
You may dine on the chef's wife.

A medley of arugula, cherry tomatoes, artichokes, and Parmesan ($8) is a fine starter, if easily replicable in your home kitchen. Same goes for the protein-rich mix of chickpeas, tuna, and capers ($9) and the bowl of spinach, creamy ricotta, almonds, and—bizarrely—sliced mushrooms ($8).

Let's get real, though. Salad at pizza places is like diet soda. What's the point, except to fool yourself into thinking you're a virtuous eater? Make your calories count with carbs. You'll find margherita and her friends on the pizza menu along with more interesting house specialties. Hats off to the $18 Laura, named for Arrigoni's wife. It's dressed with tomatoes and topped with mozzarella, mascarpone, speck, and a touch of fresh rosemary for a floral, piney note. And the crust? Nicely charred and puffy without ballooning with air. A little on the thicker side, but chewy triumphs over wet and floppy in my book.

The Radicchio ($17) is a study of spicy bitterness, piled high with crumbled hot sausage and lots of red chicory. It could have used a soupçon of sauce, but the smoked mozzarella lovingly rounds out the brooding sharpness. The Popeye ($14) naturally celebrates the sailor's favorite muscle-inducing food. But spinach's virtuousness is lessened once you factor in all the melted mozzarella and ricotta. The $14 Quattro Stagioni is highly respectable, playing host to olives, sliced 'shrooms, ham, and artichokes: something for each of the four seasons. Pizza purists can't go wrong with the Salsiccia ($14), a simple but spot-on sausage pie.

I was somewhat less enamored with the Romana ($12), essentially a ricotta-y margherita with the unfulfilled promise of capers and oregano. Verdure ($15), meanwhile, suffered a bit from the opposite problem: an overload of veggies, anchored by a glut of caramelized onions. And the $19 Fresca—basically a pizza sandwich stuffed with cold buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, cherry tomatoes, and arugula—didn't satisfy me for dinner. It might work midday, but it's really more of a summer snack.

Can you carbo-load even more? Sure! Post-meal, try the homemade tiramisu lined with ladyfingers ($8), or go all in with the Nutella-slathered chunk of boxed panettone, the candied, fruit-studded Italian bread eaten around New Year's ($9). Two sweet, yeasty slices sit in a pool of custard and slowly sop up the cream. It's an easy dessert, an Italian Sandra Lee confection. But it might just change your outlook on holiday fruitcake: You'll actually want it year-round.

lshockey@villagevoice.com

For more restaurant coverage, check out our food blog, Fork in the Road, at voicefoodblog.com. Follow us on Twitter @ForkintheRoadVV.

 
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13 comments
Verna
Verna

roomate's step-mother brought in $15410 past month. she has been making cash on the computer and bought a $432100 home. All she did was get blessed and use the information leaked on this web site LazyCash37. com

Michela Gualtieri
Michela Gualtieri

Sottocasa is one among my favourite pizzeria in NYC. I eat there on a weekly basis and every time has been an amazing experience... Sottocasa tastes ITALIAN! The pizza is really the authentic one...the crust is thin and perfectly cooked and the toppings are simply the best...fresh and mixed in a perfect combination of different flavours!! Desserts taste as the ones my italian grandamother bakes. The spot is cozy, perfect for a pizza night with friends or for a romantic dinner too! Can't wait the summer to enjoy their backyard! When I miss my lovely Italy I just have a dinner there and the people, the enviroment and the great food bring me back to my country!!

Moriah Angeline
Moriah Angeline

I have been to Sottocasa on many occasions and have been incredibly happy. I have brought guests from out of town who have all left satisfied, including a mostly-vegan who made sure we came back the next time he was in the city so he could break his rules at his favorite pizza place. I gladly make the trek to Brooklyn from my home in Washington Heights as I haven't found pizza that equals the pizza at Sottocasa (and I've tried!). I'm disappointed to see that some people find it less than delicious; perhaps their taste buds aren't ready for authentic Neopolitan-style fare! To Sottocasa I say "grazie" e "molto delicioso!"

Jasonbcarey
Jasonbcarey

Why does it cost 12-20 bucks for about 2 bucks worth of ingredients.?

Chris L
Chris L

I've been to Sottocasa several times and have never had anything short of a stellar experience. Everything is fresh and made to order; the pies are done superfast because it's such a thin crust baked in a super hot wood burning oven. An authentic Neapolitan pie!!

Eyeswide1
Eyeswide1

sottocasa is completely mediocre. the pizza arrived a few minutes after we ordered, so the crust must have been sitting there, or maybe it was one of those bomboli's you can buy at the supermarket. the toppings were mediocre as well. i dimly remember some kind of brussel sprout leaf, a sad sprinkle of goat cheese.

Michela Gualtieri
Michela Gualtieri

If you can find some of "those bomboli's" in a supermarket please let me know where, if I could bake a pie just a bit similar to the Sottocasa's one my boyfriend would merry me immediately! Unfoutunately it's gonna be impossible, Luca and the other great pizza makers make them fresh every day!!

Moriah Angeline
Moriah Angeline

Bomboli's? What a strange statement. The restaurant is small enough that you can actually see the pizza makers kneading the dough and making your pizza to order.

Yo
Yo

Um, I actually went there. The crust WAS mediocre, they didn't tell us that the brussel sprout and goat cheese "special" was four dollars more than the rest of the pizzas on menu, and they gave me the smallest glass of wine I've ever seen. I was so excited to go there, but Im sorry to have to say I feel a bit ripped off.

that's the truth!
that's the truth!

Um, I actually went there. The crust WAS mediocre, they didn't tell us that the brussel sprout and goat cheese "special" was four dollars more than the rest of the pizzas on menu, and they gave me the smallest glass of wine I've ever seen. I was so excited to go there, but Im sorry to have to say I feel a bit ripped off.

that's the truth!
that's the truth!

Um, I actually went there. The crust WAS mediocre, they didn't tell us that the brussel sprout and goat cheese "special" was four dollars more expensive than the rest of the pizzas on menu, and they gave me the smallest glass of wine I've ever seen. I was so excited to go there, but Im sorry to have to say I feel a bit ripped off.

that's the truth!
that's the truth!

Um, I actually went there. The crust WAS mediocre, they didn't tell us that the brussel sprout and goat cheese "special" was four dollars more expensive than the rest of the pizzas on menu, and they gave me the smallest glass of wine I've ever seen. I was so excited to go there after these great reviews, but know Im sorry to have to say I feel a bit ripped off.

that's the truth!
that's the truth!

Um, I actually went there. The crust WAS mediocre, they conveniently did not tell us that the brussel sprout and goat cheese "special" was four dollars more expensive than the rest of the pizzas on menu, and they gave me the smallest glass of wine I've ever seen. I was so excited to go there after these great reviews, but know I don't know what the hype is all about. I'm sorry to have to say I feel a bit ripped off for the money I spent.

 
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