Roberta's is full of paradoxes.
A laid-back pizza joint that also houses a high-brow reservation-only tasting room (Blanca); a pie laden with savory cheeses and meats yet drizzled with fresh wildflower honey (the Bee Sting); and, quite possibly, the best pizza in New York—in Brooklyn (Bushwick) as opposed to Manhattan. But more on that later.
If you've been in New York for longer than a month, you've heard the Roberta's hype. Here at Forkit, we're always endeavoring to do some culinary mythbusting, but we're happy to report that Roberta's lives up to every bit of the praise heaped upon it.
Walk into the restaurant and you're greeted with a slightly dim ambiance with warm hardwoods and long, communal picnic-style tables where hip 20- and 30-somethings take reprieves from their millennial woes to stuff delicious, piping hot pizza into their face. The lines can get long, but the typical wait is considerably less than the estimate—in none of our many visits to Roberta's have we waited longer than half an hour. Naturally, this may increase the larger your party is, though if you're trying to have the true Roberta's experience, the ideal number is two, so you can snag two pies and then mix and match slices.
The importance of beverage is not to be understated, and nothing pairs better with top-notch pizza than beer. Grab an Other Half IPA on draft, brewed in nearby Carroll Gardens, or keep it simple with a Pabst Blue Ribbon—the surrounding patrons will appreciate the choice. The smoked ribs are top-notch; the garlic knots are a good intro. But let's be honest: when you come to Roberta's, you should be on a single-minded mission. Your precious time and stomach real estate need to be devoted to the pies.
So you've settled in at your table, the drinks have arrived, and it's time to make decisions. Rest assured that you cannot go wrong: Roberta's crust, another one of the restaurant's beautiful paradoxes, is wood-fired to contain a slight char, yet still maintains a light and fluffy texture inside. Its meats, cheeses, vegetables and sauces are as fresh as it gets. We've had every pie on the menu, and can say definitively that each has served to expand our love for the restaurant in a different way. That being said, here are our top three:
3. The Beastmaster
New York pizza purists would say that the true experience should be a simple undertaking: sauce, cheese, and maybe a single topping—pepperoni, mushrooms, or the like. The Beastmaster throws this traditional school of thought to the wind. You'll find the aforementioned cheeses and sauce paired with gorgonzola, pork sausage, caramelized onions, capers, and jalapenos. Best served with a crisp IPA or two—this one's got some kick to it.
2. The Famous Original
This one's more of what a pizza purist would have in mind, with tomato, mozzarella, and the lesser-known caciocavallo cheese, which is similar in flavor to an aged provolone. The minimal toppings bring out Roberta's signature crust elements and invite extensive flavor analysis—though honestly, nobody has time for that. If you're in the market for a more traditionally topped New York pie, this is the one for you.
1. The Bee Sting
This pizza comes with almost as much hype as Roberta's itself. And, like the restaurant as a whole, it does nothing but exceed its already-impeccable reputation. In spite of that, it's not always listed on the menu, so make sure you ask for it by name. Here it is: All of the best elements of a Roberta's pie, from crust to sauce, generously loaded with mozarrella and thick wedges of soppressatta cheeses and spicy thick-cut pepperoni. But the piece de resistance? A drizzle of wildflower honey that, when paired with the savory aspects of the cheeses and meats, creates a contradictory explosion of flavor in your mouth that demands another bite as soon as you've swallowed your last. The addictive nature of this pizza is borderline worrisome, but that won't keep us from returning to order it again and again. You've simply never had anything like it.
After you've polished off your pies—and trust us, you will have no slices left to take home—give it a moment to digest, and perhaps discuss your neighbor's own pizza experience. That's the beauty of Roberta's: It brings people together.
Moral of the story: even if you pride yourself on going against the status quo, follow the masses to Roberta's.