The reason I know this to be the best slice of Brooklyn Pizza you never heard of is because
a) I’m a native Brooklynite and know my way around a slice,
b) you never heard of Bensonhurst (other than its the neighborhood where John Travolta struts his stuff as Tony Manero in the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever; that, and birthplace of the Three Stooges,)
but most importantly, c) Google Places asked us to lead two foodie partybus tours. Novembers’ tour was the highly enjoyable #GoogleUniqueEats Washington Heights Foodie Tour, and December was the #GooglePizzaBus in Brooklyn.
In order to hunt out the best pizzerias to which I could bring a busload of Google Place users, my best bud Will and I biked around southwest Brooklyn and right into John’s humble pizza joint three months ago. We sat down for one slice, ended up with four each, and I’ve been craving the Carbonara ever since.
Valentino’s itself dates from 1976, but John Fruente, a Carroll Gardens boy, South Brooklyn native, took over ownership 6 years ago. He makes all the pies by hand and uses (of course) only fresh ingredients. No fancy brick oven, no coal or wood fired stove. Simply gas fired and good ingredients make his pizza the top notch.
He wouldn’t share too many of his secrets with me, but there is a certain kind of massaging magic that John does to his dough which results in the lightest, airiest, thinnest bread that then gets judiciously covered in sauce, cheese and toppings.
The Carbonara – a wonderful three cheese cream sauce, bacon and fresh parsley – is unbelievably refreshing and filling. I could eat an entire pie of the stuff and still ride my bicycle back to North Brooklyn to go dancing all night.
The rest of the #GooglePizzaBus tour was a trip – we had herb-infused olive oil drizzled on our regular slice at Luigi’s, another gem of a pizza joint in South Slope. Luigi’s had a brief time to shine in 30 seconds of the Adam Sandler comedy Big Daddy – its when Adam picks his surrogate son up and plops him on the counter for a slice.
We tried prosciutto sticks from Tasty Pastry in Dyker Heights, we salivated over fresh mozz from Lioni Latticini, also in Dyker, and no trip to southwest BK is complete without a sliver of a Sicilian slice from L&B Spumoni (and a spoonful of their namesake Italian ices as well.)
But ask the 20 pizzafreaks on the partybus – absolutely nothing compared to Valentino’s Pizza. Which is why, as we unveil a new Brooklyn Pizza Tour & Italian-American Adventure on our website, we’re more than happy to make John the posterboy. Fire up the oven John, we’ve got hungry tourists coming your way!
And anyway, who better to trust on the subject of Brooklyn pizza, than this guy . . .!?!
By Matt Levy