The G Train
The G train is the only New York City subway line that does not go into Manhattan. There are 21 stops, 19 of which are in Brooklyn. Court Square in Long Island City, Queens is the northernmost stop. From Long Island City, the G train runs underground through Brooklyn neighborhoods including Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Boerum Hill, before going above ground through Caroll Gardens, Gowanus, and Park Slope, finally terminating at Church Avenue.
Although the G train is rarely used by tourists or commuters, some of the most popular pizzerias in NYC are along the section between Greenpoint and Park Slope. This list focuses mostly Neapolitan-style eateries but also includes a traditional New York slice joint as well as a taste of the Midwest in the heart of Brooklyn.
A similar version of this post first appeared on USA Today 10Best.
Enoteca on Court
Speedy Romeo Brooklyn
The only traditional New York slice joint in this list, Smiling Pizza has that classic pizza parlor from your childhood feel. Little has changed here (except maybe the prices) in the decades since they first opened on the corner of 9th Street and 7th Avenue in Park Slope. You’ll see a dozen of their (mostly round) brick oven sliced pies displayed behind the pizza counter which is just a few short steps from the arch-shaped entrance from 7th Avenue. Their Sicilian and Grandma pies are both square and a hit with locals. Although they deliver and get plenty of take-out business, you owe it to yourself to enjoy your pizza in one of their classic red booths and take in the atmosphere. The part brick, part checkerboard walls, are adorned with cute little trinkets with sayings like, “I only eat pizza on days that end with a Y.” It also doesn’t hurt that they are just a few steps from the subway and open from 10 AM to as late as 2:45 AM daily.
Nearest G train station: 7 Av
Pizza Moto sits under the Gowanus Expressway on the border between Red Hook and Carroll Gardens. They offer ten different pies, ranging from the basic Marinara (vegan) and Margherita to the breakfast-themed Eggs in Hell. The sauce is on the tangier side while their dough is chewy, with the inevitable char spots and bubbles on the outer crust. Their coal oven dates back to the mid-1850s, and now burns wood thanks to some reengineering. For something a bit on the zanier side, try the regionally-themed Vermonter or the ‘Jerzey Pork Store.
Nearest G train station: Smith-9th St
Possibly the hardest table to get in Brooklyn, this cash-only, BYOB, compact Carroll Gardens institution attracts everyone from locals to pizza aficionados who want to see what all the fuss is about to celebrities like Jay-Z and Beyonce. You’ll increase your chances of getting a table if you get in line at least an hour before they open. On a typical night, by the time the first patrons get through the door (at 5:45), the line is already wrapped around the nearest intersection at Henry and Carroll. The place fills up fast, and when hopeful diners get to the door, they are given a call time and told by the hostess to be nearby at their designated time and that seating is limited to one hour. Those who don’t want to wait for hours either get in the take out line or simply go somewhere else.
Once you get inside this former candy store turned brick oven pizzeria, you’ll get to see former stone mason turned pizzaiolo, Mark Iacono and his team prepare the most sought after pies in Brooklyn. The menu is written in chalk and more than any other place in this list, Lucali keeps it simple. Just small or large calzones and pies with thin crust from dough custom flattened with Lucali’s signature wine bottle, which you may have seen on the pizza episode of Ugly Delicious. Extra sauce is $5.
Nearest G train station: Carroll St
Enoteca on Court
This Carroll Gardens wine bar (enoteca means “wine repository” in Italian) is owned run by a Johnson & Wales-trained chef and offers 17 different brick oven pies. Traditionalists will feel right at home here as you won’t find any pies with quirky names topped with kale, kimchi, pineapple, etc. Instead, most are named after parts of Sicily as well as parts of the boot itself. The crust is thin and on the crunchier side, while the homemade sauce has a more subtle flavor.
Nearest G train station: Carroll St
Italian for “under the home,” Sottocasa is nestled beneath a classic Brooklyn brownstone along the busy Atlantic Avenue thoroughfare. Since 2011, they’ve been serving red and white wood-fired pies in Boerum Hill. They recently opened a location in Harlem as well. Milan native and part-owner, Luca Arrigoni originally moved to New York as an aspiring actor but ended up making a life detour while working for a year under Keste owner and fellow pizzaiolo, Roberto Caporuscio. Rather than use the popular Neapolitan moniker, the Milanese Arrigoni prefers to think of his pies (which bear a striking resemblance to those at Keste) as Italian pizza in New York. You won’t find any kale or vegan cheese on any of the two dozen pies at Sottocasa. Their dough is light and chewy while the sauce is on the thinner side, with a hint (but not an excessive amount) of garlic. Inside, this charming neighborhood pizzeria, you’ll see some of (co-owner) Mariarosa Pennacchio’s square photographs on the walls, which you can also see on her Instagram account.
Nearest G train station: Hoyt-Schermerhorn
Emily serves wood-fired, New Haven-style pies in a cozy setting on the south end of Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill. The pizza section of their menu is cleverly divided into four sections: red, white, pink, and green. The pink pies are topped with vodka sauce, while the greens use a tomatillo (also known as Mexican husk tomato) sauce. Tables fill up fast, so don’t be put off if you are told that there are only bar seats available. Traditionalists can order the Luca (which is a traditional Neapolitan pie) or The Classic (with sauce, hand-made mozzarella, and oregano).
Their flavorful sauce and chewy crust are what make Emily worth the journey from Manhattan, Queens, or other parts of Brooklyn. If you want to enjoy the sauce without being distracted by other fancy ingredients (like honey, kimchi, pickled jalapeno, pineapple, etc.), try the Red Planet pie, which has double the sauce. They also serve small plates and the $28 Emmy Burger.
Nearest G train station: Clinton-Washington Avenues (but the Clinton-Washington Ave C stop is closer)
Housed in a former auto body repair shop on the border between Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy, Speedy Romeo serves 12″ hardwood-fired Neapolitan-style pies along with a full menu of appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts. This Saint Louis-influenced Brooklyn institution gets its name from a champion racehorse and offers a Midwestern twist on Italy’s most famous culinary export. The crust is slightly crunchier than most of the other places in this list. If you’ve never had pizza in Missouri, try the Saint Louie, which is topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, pepperoni, Italian sausage, pickled chilies, and provel cheese from Saint Louis. Provel is a mix of cheddar and swiss. It has a low melting point, resulting in a semi-buttery texture. Their other import from the midwest is the K.C. Royale, which is topped with bechamel sauce, clams, pancetta, fontina, lemon, and kale (special for post-2000 transplants?). If you want to try pizza with bechamel sauce but can do without the kale, try the White Album. Despite the name, it’s not a double (no accompanying Honey Pie, but it may taste better on your Birthday!).
Nearest G train station: Classon Av
Williamsburg may have more pizza options than Arthur Avenue, but Forcella manages to offer a different twist on Italy’s greatest culinary gift to the world: montanara, or fried pizza. They also offer a dozen different wood-fired Neapolitan pies (both red and white) as well as delectable, doughy desserts like Angioletti alla Nutella (deep fried pizza dough strips) and their 12″ Nutella pie. Inside, the walls are lined with artsy food pics as well as images of the old world. Patrons are treated to an unobstructed view of pizzaiolos preparing Neapolitan pies, which come out in under two minutes. If you want to put your forcella (the Italian word for fork) to use, they have appetizers, pasta dishes, salads, and other desserts. If you’re only going to try one non-pizza dish, make it the truffle fries.
Nearest G train station: Metropolitan Av (or take the L train to Lorimer Street)
Check out my list of places to eat pizza along the L train here.
With nearly 50 different pies as well as salads, soups, and desserts, Paulie Gee’s is the most popular no-slice pizzeria in Greenpoint. Unless you get in the line which tends to start before they open at 5:00, you’ll likely find yourself waiting anywhere between 15 minutes and two hours for a table. They have more than a dozen different vegan pies with quirky names like Red, White, and Greenpeace, Vegan Grapeful Dead, In Ricotta Da Vegan, and Chop’t ‘Til You Drop. Owner and namesake, Paulie Giannone is so insistent on his wood-fired pies being enjoyed fresh out of the oven that they no longer offer takeout. The closest thing you’ll find to a traditional margherita is the Regina, which has the red, white, and green of the Italian flag and is also garnished with pecorino romano.
Nearest G train station: Greenpoint Av
Greenpoint may be known as Little Poland, but thanks to places like Fornino (which opened a location on Manhattan Ave. in 2013), you can now find as many pizza options here as you can in Belmont or Howard Beach. Fornino offers antipasti, beer, wine, calzones, and three generations of pizza in a welcoming setting. Inside, an ornate, varicolored hand-blown glass chandelier designed by owner and chef, Michael Ayoub hangs from the ceiling while the red brick walls are adorned with various paintings.
The first generation of wood-fired pies are traditional Neapolitan style, while the second generation ventures out to other parts of Italy. Finally, the third includes quirky Ayoub inventions like the Al Roker (yes, named after the Queens-born journalist and cousin of Lenny Kravitz) and the $35 (for an individual) Tartuffo. They also have vegan cheese. Outdoor seating is available during the warmer months.
Nearest G train station: Greenpoint Av
Have you tried any of these places? If so, what did you think? If you have other suggestions in Brooklyn, feel free to leave a comment below!