Normally, I don’t fangirl over pizza. But when I discovered Roberta’s pizza in Whole Foods (thankyou), I kind of did a little happy dance in the freezer aisle.
There this beauty was.
Beautifully charred, bright red from a wipe of marinara sauce, and crowned with thickly-sliced, circles of fresh mozzarella.
Roberta’s pizza isn’t Amy’s or Newman’s Own.
It’s wood-fired; it’s far more interesting.
“It’s the Brooklyn pizza BEYONCE, and JAY-Z eats,” I gushed, turning to James in the freezer aisle.
And it’s the pizza, +4,000 people on Google say is the place to go if you’re ever in Brooklyn.
A little research shows, Roberta’s has a short history for the amount of fanfare.
Having sprung up in the year 2008, the wood-fired pizzeria– founded by the owner of two Michelin-starred Blanca, Carlo Mirarchi, along with Brandon Hoy– is considered iconic in the hip, gentrified neighborhood of Bushwick.
It was only fitting the pizza was now sold through Goldbelly too (Can Lucali’s pizza be next?).
And now, they’ve branched into Whole Foods stores further along the East coast.
Who can stop their ascension?
Needless to say, I wouldn’t have to pay $69 for two Margherita pies on Goldbelly or travel to NYC; for the struggling millennial in me, that was comforting.
For $10.99 a pie, and a 450-degree oven, my sunny afternoon was made eventful with Roberta’s Margherita pizza, a legendary staple in NYC.
So when I finally got the pizza home, took off the wrapping, finished it… what were my final thoughts?
Let’s start with first impressions.
The oven chimed; I cradled it out of the oven. I slid it onto a pizza board, slicing into the crust; you’ll get about four good slices out of this one.
I took a wide-mouthed bite.
“This might be the best pizza I ever taste.”
From the oven, I knew the smell of tomato — acidic as it was bright — would be too much of a bite to take.
It was a thin spread but still pungent in smell.
The tangy spread that gives acid reflux an invitation after a catnap.
The crust was delicious, pure in taste, but didn’t crisp and heat right on the first go.
Thankfully, we bought two pies and experimented with a longer cook time on the second go-around — much better.
Consider cranking your oven up 25 degrees higher, if you’ve known it not to maintain a consistent temperature.
What Roberta’s accomplished perfectly though, with this freezer aisle variation, was a crust reminiscent of its wood-fired origins, an audible crunch, and a toothsome chew.
Too, there was the smoke of it all, that still remained wafted into the dough, heightened by the char.
There was a lot of “right.”
The purity of the cheese– I could taste the sweet milkiness of the mozzarella– and the dough, the brightness, and the smell of fresh tomato sauce and a crust and chew hard to accomplish with a freezer aisle pizza.
With all those elements, still, overall, the pizza left much to be desired.
But who could hold freezer-aisle pizza to such a high standard?
No matter the origin, or how applauded Roberta’s is in NYC, Roberta’s pizza sold at Whole Foods– vacuum-sealed, with robust marinara, fresh leaves of basil, reformed high-quality dough, housemade mozzarella– is still freezer-aisle pizza.
For the price, the profile was too simplistic, too bland.
I can’t think of another two words more clear.
Roberta’s is still a pizza I’d like to try again, perhaps where I can leave with the stench of the wood-fired pizza on my clothes and add a few more toppings.