To be clear, Brooklyn doesn’t need any more pizza parlors. When residents rattle off wishlists for their particular neighborhoods—a grocery store, a dog park, a laundromat, an authentic taco spot—a place to grab a cheap slice in a pinch is never, ever among them. Which is why, when restaurateurs dare to tackle NYC’s single most iconic foodstuff, they’re adamant about adding their own personal stamp, in the form of hyper-regional toppings (The Saint Louie at Speedy Romeo), notable alterna- menu items (the Emmy Burger at Emily), and top-of-the-line Stefano Ferrara ovens (Greenpoint’s own Paulie Gee’s).
That’s also why it’s peculiar to find the new Bedford Avenue outpost of Joe’s Pizza well illuminated by camera flashes, to the grim-faced bemusement of staff, their aprons generously slicked with orange grease. Indeed, the counter-only corner spot is hardly ready for its Instagram close-up, already littered with crust crumbs and bottle caps, oil-speckled napkins and ant trails of dried red pepper. And as far as the slices are concerned, you’d be hard pressed to pick one out of a lineup; being that they’re utterly archetypal, mid-sized wedges of dough, sauce and cheese.
But for those well versed in NYC pizza history, there’s plenty to separate Joe’s from say, the similarly unassuming Anna Maria, which sits almost directly across the street. After all, the beloved eatery has been a Greenwich Village staple since 1975, due to their not always compatible commitment to keeping quality high and costs low. And now that Williamsburg boasts their only outer borough expansion, North Brooklyn finally has a piece of the pie when it comes to noteworthy pizza destinations, joining the ranks of Coney Island (Totonno’s), Midwood (Di Fara), Dumbo (Juliana’s/Grimaldi’s), and Gravesend (L&B).
As long as you’re not wolfing one down at 2am, when all alcohol-absorbing slices are created equal, you’ll notice all the little details at Joe’s that really do make up the difference. Appetizing enough to eat on its own, despite being baked in a gas (rather than coal or wood-burning) oven, the crust perfectly toes the line between being doughy-malleable and cracker-rigid, facilitating that classic on-the-go fold, with just a slight sag at the tip. A thin layer of tangy, low-moisture mozz never threatens to slide off in a single steaming puddle, but obediently hugs the slick of sweet, bright sauce underneath—an exercise in pure, unadulterated balance and restraint, requiring nothing in the way of superfluous toppings, or even a dusting of garlic powder.
And the best part is that they still only cost $2.75, adhering directly to the storied slice/subway fare algorithm. A small price, indeed, to pay for a timeless taste of NYC.
216 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg