Saturday, July 4, 2009

The 2.5 Hour Wait

I understand that this is a recession and that people don't want to spend a lot on food.  I get it.  And I understand how "cool" it is to know about the "best pizza in Brooklyn."  Fine, whatever.  But here's what I don't get: the streets of Carroll Gardens are completely abandoned, since everyone's left for the holiday weekend.  Why, then, is the woman at Lucali quoting a 2.5 hour wait at 6:15 the night before the Fourth of July?

Because, dear readers, it is now "cool" to spend $24 on an admittedly very good pizza (my dining companion last night: "this is as good as it gets.").  Yes, the pizza is delicious, thin, larger than the pies at Roberta's or Franny's or Co.  But toppings--even basil--cost extra.  And they're cash only.  And then there's the wait. 

We had been at Clover Club first for some swizzles and pate (very good stuff, fyi), because Lucali isn't supposed to open until 6:30.  Well, that was a flat-out lie.  Lucali takes phone reservations and seats VIPs willy-nilly anyway.  You can bet your bottom dollar Jay-Z ain't waiting three hours for a table.  No way, no how.  When we rolled up at 6:15, the dining room was full and there was already a 2.5 hour wait.  I put my name on the list and gave the frustrated host my phone number and then ambled over to Prime Meats for a soft pretzel and some rum punch, served from a scalloped crystal punch bowl in tiny handled punch cups.  The pretzel came with an addictive honey mustard.  I'm told the other snacks are equally delicious.  Next time.  

I did get to eat at Lucali, but by then I was tired and a little woozy with punch.  Our large pie was sufficiently crunchy but the service was worse than bad.  A redeeming feature of Lucali is that you bring your own wine, so you won't blow your budget on crappy Chianti.  And the atmosphere--candle-lit, aromatic, and centered around the guy stretching dough and shaving buffala mozzarella in the back--is more than pleasant.  You could eat pizzas here all day, if they'd let you (and they wouldn't; once the table is finally yours, it's order in, patrons out).  

The best bet for a Lucali pie is takeout--you can pick up your pie 30 minutes after order time, which seems like the time-saver of the century.  And I guess it beats Grimaldi's, which we drove past and which boasted a line stretching three or four city blocks.  All in the name of good pizza.  Maybe that's the necessary sacrifice we make to look cool in these empty-wallet days of 2009.  

Clover Club
210 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Prime Meats
465 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

575 Henry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

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