The most important brand in the pizza universe right now isn’t Pizza Hut or Dominos or the company making those inflatable pizza rafts. It is, without a doubt, Roberta’s. What they’ve managed to create is downright astonishing. It’s now an internationally renowned brand that’s spawned copycats and imitators all across the globe.
Roberta’s put Bushwick on the map, literally. Before Roberta’s moved in, no one was hanging out in the warehouses surrounding the Boar’s Head bologna factory, let alone considering calling this place home. Without trying to, Roberta’s changed everything. They started a movement. They made Bushwick cool and put in on the national radar. Admit it, your first trip to Bushwick was for a Bee Sting or Axl Rosenberg pizza. Ours was too, and we remember if fondly.
Since our first trip to this hobo/hippie/hipster pizza metropolis over six years ago, much has changed, and yet everything is exactly the same. The food continues to be outstanding. Not only are the imaginative pizzas that perfect balance of puffy, chewy, and charred, but the pastas, the vegetables, the meats, the beer selection, it all just seems to get better and better. Roberta’s is a restaurant for serious food people who don’t take their food so seriously.
What started as reasonably sized warehouse with a little outdoor area has now turned into a compound that occupies an entire city block. Roberta’s now has a garden, an event space, a radio station (that was always there, actually), a tasting menu only restaurant with two Michelin stars (Blanca), a bakery which serves as their hub for all things takeout and delivery, and there are wild rumors of an arcade that serves disco fries, a bowling alley, and an archery range with a alpaca petting zoo coming soon. It’ll be like Blue Hill Stone Barns for kids in cutoff jean shorts and dirty Vans. * editors note: don’t believe any of the rumors we just made up.
Part of the reason Roberta’s is such a special place is because they haven’t done anything else yet. Instead of opening up new restaurants, they just keep expanding upon the original. Roberta’s is that indie rock band that makes an insane debut album, blows up, and instead of releasing new records, keeps putting out bonus tracks and remixes of the original album. Why? Either because the band is in a perpetual state of turmoil (fact), or they are content with what they have. Regardless, we’re cool with it.
Soon enough, Roberta’s may tastefully Papa John’s this thing and when they do, the world will be waiting with open arms. Until then, you should make the trip to Bushwick.
A classic Roberta’s starter, they cure a mean duck bacon. Order it, and all the other cured meats. Also, get their bread and butter while you’re at it. They make their own butter (obviously), and it may actually be worth the $7.
A simple salad of crisp romaine lettuce with candied walnuts and pecorino. There’s not much to it, but somehow, it’s the most perfect romaine salad you’ll ever.
If ever there was a reason to trek to Bushwick for lunch, it’s for the Roberta’s cheeseburger. This is a great hamburger, the kind that oozes meat juice all over your hands. Also, something about the fact that it’s hard to get makes it taste better in a way.
The pastas change constantly, but rest assured that whatever you get will deliver the goods. We went recently and ate a pasta with clams and garlic that was excellent, and also a garganelli with veal that was out of this world. Pictured above, the orecchiette with pig’s head ragu. If it’s on the menu, order it.
Bee Sting Pizza
This is the one pizza you absolutely must order when dining for the first time at Roberta’s. It’s sweet, smokey, spicy, and cheesy all at the same time with tomato, mozzarella, sopressata, chili, and honey. Get some.
White and Green Pizza
A delicious pizza with mozzarella, arugula, lemon and parmigiano. A pizza piled high with greens means it’s healthy, right?
Cowabunga Dude Pizza
A nod to The Simpsons and a pizza from the gods, the Cowabunga Dude is loaded with a little something for everyone: tomato, caciocavallo, parmigiano, pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives and red onion.
Axl Rosenberg Pizza
One of the best pies we’ve eaten anywhere. Tomato, mozzarella, double garlic, mushrooms, jalapeños, and sopressata picante all combine for what tastes like the best supreme pizza ever. Those jalapeños make it. An absolute must order, even if you’re scared of spicy.
Because you need a pizza with pork sausage, onions, capers, and jalapeño on it, in addition to tomato, mozzarella, gorgonzola. THIS IS SO GOOD. That is all.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the pizza, but don’t sleep on the calzone.
Roberta’s does good brunch, too. There are plenty of simple, yet very deliciously executed egg dishes, and of course, breakfast pizza.
Save room. The chocolate chip cookies are excellent, as are the sticky buns.
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