Early Look: Motorino Fires Up the Williamsburg Pizza Scene Once Again


On a Monday evening, while most of the restaurant world experiences its quietest day, the glow of Motorino’s oven never fades. Dough is pounded, stretched, and shuffled into the flames, the pizza irresistible to the legions of fans who’ve turned up to welcome Mathieu Palombino’s spot back to the neighborhood after a long, strange trip.

Back in August of 2011, Palombino was forced pack up his oven mitts and close the doors of his original incarnation of Motorino on Graham Avenue due to irreparable structural damage and an order of the Department of Buildings. Motorino’s East Village location was just a few stops away on the L train, but ownership vowed to re-open in its original Brooklyn neighborhood. After projects including Palombino’s Bowery Diner and the opening of a Hong Kong Motorino outpost earlier this year, the crew was ready to make good on its promise and pave the way for a triumphant return to Brooklyn.

Step through the doors and you’ll notice the new pizzeria is significantly larger than its Manhattan sister. Exposed brick, a tin ceiling, and white marble tops provide the canvas for such decorations as pizza peels, plants, and a statue of the holy mother. The open windows allow light in; the spot is soundproofed to enable intimate conversations between couples and groups of friends. Families with small children will like the crayons as much as the pizza; solo diners and people looking for a quick bite will appreciate the bar and tables up front that overlook the busy street scene outside.

Many of the options on the menu will look familiar including the margherita and cherry stone clam. But Palombino also debuted new location-specific items like the porchetta calzone, chicken wings, and a frittatina–a fried cake made with macaroni and stuffed with prosciutto and provolone. The new offerings reflect his willingness to experiment and expand upon a proven formula, and the exceptionally quick and friendly staff are ready to accommodate whatever the decision with borderline militaristic efficiency.

Motorino is open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Beer, wine, cocktails, and delivery are expected to debut within the upcoming weeks.