As this was a spur of the moment decision to eat there (I was actually longing for the Spicy Noodles at Momofuko Noodle Bar, they were not open for dinner yet, but that is another article for another day) I decided to try one of the pizze to see how their oven, dough, ingredients and reputation stacked up. Unknown to all of the readers of this blog is the fact that I developed and ran a high-end pizzeria in Guatemala City, Guatemala called Jake’s Tomato Pies from 1999-2001 so I am very particular about pizza and even moreso about the dough.
According to a NY Times article on 9/9/09 The oven at Motorino is an “Acunto, a $15,000 wood-burning oven hand-crafted in Naples. Unlike most professional ovens, which are made of clay and assembled in pieces, the Acunto is brick and is shipped whole. It’s smaller than a Fiat 500, but not by much.” According to Motorino owner Mathieu Palombino ““This is probably the best brick oven made in Italy.” It came with the space when he bought Una Pizza Napolitana from Anthony Mangieri the owner.
The pizze I decided upon was the Brussel Sprout ($15) which came topped with Brussel sprout leaves, smoked pancetta, Mozzarella di Bufala, garlic and pecorino cheese.
The crust was just salty enough, perfectly crisped in the oven and moist to the bite. The combination of the brussel sprouts, smoked pancetta and the combination of Pecorino & Mozzarella di Bufala was a revelation with every bite. As I was working my way through the pie, I received a text from a friend in the East Village and was requested to bring some pizze over to their place, so I ordered a Sopressata Picante ($16) topped with Mozzarella di Bufala, Spicy Sopressata, Garlic, Chili and Oregano to go along with a side of the Oven Roasted Broccolini ($8) with Garlic, Chili and Pecorino cheese. The quality of the meat and the sauce topping it were top notch. The broccolini were slightly al dente and well seasoned without being too spicy.
Motorino also serves their Pizze “a libretto” which, according to Eater is “a Neapolitan way of folding the12-inch pie in paper for easy street eating.” It has not been requested much yet but I was told by my waiter that it is a great way to try their pizze.
I have to say that the staff is very attentive, knowledgeable about the products they sell, able to offer great suggestions (without being pushy) and generally seem to enjoy working at Motorinio. I think on the next trip, I am going to round up a few friends and check out the full Antipasti list as well as the Tiramisu which is made in house. I was told that some more offerings are in the works but that they are hampered in what they can do by the small East Village space as opposed to the larger Brooklyn space.
I had a chance to briefly meet and speak with Chef/Owner Mathieu Palombino who comes from a fine dining background. He was chef de cuisine at BLT Fish when it was given three stars in The New York Times by Frank Bruni in 2005 (from NY Times Article 9/9/09).
The staff told me that the crowds really start descending on Motorino after 7 PM, so if you want to check out the food without out all of the crowds get there early. I think Mr Palombino has brought a great new addition to the East Village even if it is around the corner from Luzzo’s and a couple of blocks away from Artichoke Basilles Pizza. The styles of the pizza in all three places is different, so I think (and hope) that they can all thrive and be successful. I have eaten at all three and they all bring a special touch to their pizzas.
Motorino does not deliver but does do pickup orders.
Motorino East Village Pizza
349 East 12th St.
Sun – Thur: 5pm-12am
Fri & Sat : 5pm- 1am
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