Sunday, November 2, 2014

Toasting a winning diet with a gooey slice of you know what

Brooklyn's thin-crust pizza -- this one is half pepperoni, half anchovy -- is best when ordered well-done, blistering the underside of the pie and infusing the crust with the unmistakable taste of the coal that fires the restaurant's oven, below.


The full name of Brooklyn's has changed a little since the coal-oven pizzeria first opened in Hackensack more than 21 years ago, but the thin-crust pies taste as great as always.

For the past four years or so, Brooklyn's has been off my dining-out list while I followed a no-bread, no-pizza diet that resulted in a 40-pound weight loss.

But on Saturday night at Brooklyn's, I celebrated the success of that diet and my upcoming birthday with a salad, a glass of red wine and a single slice of anchovy pizza from a small pie with a deliciously blistered crust.

A big tub of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese is ready as the pizza maker or pizzaiolo works frantically to keep up with demand when the restaurant fills up with families and other customers.

Brooklyn's Salad, which comes with marinated mushrooms and two rolls made from pizza dough ($4.95), is big enough to share.

Brooklyn's Caesar Salad is $3.50.

Friends shared a Pepper Salad, which also comes with marinated mushrooms, olives and pizza rolls ($5.50).

From 'Carmen' to Brooklyn's

If I had known we were going to eat at Brooklyn's, I would have chosen an Italian opera.

I met friends at the multiplex movie theater in Clifton Commons on Saturday for a live broadcast of Bizet's "Carmen," a tragedy sung in French, from the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan.

The 3-hour-and-40-minute production included a sensuous pas de deux before the singing started and again after intermission.

My friends had tried Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza in Clifton a couple of times, but it didn't compare to Brooklyn's, which, they reminded me, I had recommended to them many years ago.

After the opera, we agreed to meet at the Brooklyn's in Hackensack, and when I walked in with my wife, we were told we could sit anywhere. Our friends arrived a few minutes later.

By the time we left a little after 6 p.m., the quonset-hut restaurant was packed and people were waiting for tables in the vestibule.

Serenaded by Sinatra

Even after an absence of several years, everything was instantly familiar:

Red-checked tablecloths, Sinatra on the sound system, the servers bringing your pizza before you finish your antipasto or salads, the scramble to make room on your table and the cash-only policy.

But the wonderful taste of that single slice of well-done anchovy pizza was worth the wait.

I ordered a small, 14-inch pie, half pepperoni for my wife, half anchovy for me, and we took home three of the six slices ($13.75).

Our friends chose a large, 18-inch, eight-slice pie with extra sauce on one half, and they took four slices home ($18).

A large Brooklyn's pizza with extra sauce on one half.

This sign is one of the first things you see when you enter Brooklyn's. No reservations or delivery, either. None of this, or its location next to a large cemetery, seems to discourage loyal customers.

The restaurant not long after we arrived and before it filled up on Saturday evening.

One downside of the no-credit-card policy is a hand-written check that is difficult to read. My $4 glass of wine is listed under the food total. Our friends got a separate check. 

Brooklyn's Coal Brick Oven Pizza, 161 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack; 201-342-2727. Also called Brooklyn's Coal Burning Brick Oven Pizzeria. Small parking lot.

Web site: Great pizza with lots of attitude

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