The wait is finally over. It has been nearly four months since I first noticed construction two blocks from my apartment in a relatively quiet Brooklyn neighborhood. It’s not that we don’t have pizza nearby — there are at least two slice shops within a three-block radius. But this new spot holds incredible potential to be a neighborhood anchor for those who want more than a quick slice.
When I finally get a chance to visit the newly opened restaurant tonight, I’ll find out if I’m going to help send the owner’s kids through college or if I’m going to have to avoid that corner on my walk home from work. I far prefer the prior option. So, as a customer and your “Man on the Street,” what do I look for in a new pizzeria? As a highly anticipated new restaurant in a neighborhood that truly needs one, I assume this place is going to have a pretty serious wait.
Since I can’t spend too much time staring at other peoples’ food without getting kicked out or punched in the face, it shifts the bulk of my attention to the staff. I imagine the space itself is going to be well designed, as are most restaurants opening in “up-andcoming” Brooklyn neighborhoods, but I’m much more curious about how servers interact with customers and each other. Even if the space is hideous, I strongly believe a bad visual vibe can be defeated by a warm and happy staff that makes me feel welcome. Once I’m sitting down, I wonder what the menu’s going to look like.
I know they have a wood-burning oven (I can smell it from my apartment!), but I don’t know if they’ll be doing traditional Neapolitan or something completely unique. Even beyond the pizza scope, I’m hoping for some other menu items I can turn to when I’ve exceeded my weekly pizza tolerance. I’d love to see some good appetizers I can share with a large table and maybe even a pasta dish or two. Some of my closest friends are vegetarians so I’m crossing my fingers for some meatless selections. I always feel terrible when there’s one vegetarian selection on the menu and my friends have to eat the same thing every time we go. But variety only goes so far before there are compromises in the kitchen of a small restaurant, so I hope for quality and value above all else.
There are some convenience factors on my wish list as well. I only live two blocks away so it would be amazing if this new place does take-out so I can get my fix when I’m craving my favorite dish without waiting for a table. On the other hand, there will definitely be times I want to escape my cramped living space for a drink or snack, so hopefully this place will have a bar. I’m not asking for the world here, just a few reasonable requests that will result in the perfect solution on those hungry nights when I don’t want to travel across town. If my wishes are granted, my kitchen may start to wonder where I’ve gone.
Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.