It took roughly 1 year, an hour in line, and another 3 hour wait, but we did it. We ate at Lucali. And it was awesome.
If you’re a pizza aficionado like me, odds are you’ve heard of Lucali. Tucked away on Henry St. in Carrol Gardens, Lucali is one of the most renowned pizza joints in New York City. No, but really. Don’t just take it from me…The Pizza Show loves it; Fodor’s raves about it; and Beyoncé and Jay Z used to order from the spot on a daily basis.
It’s got a ridiculously simple menu, consisting of literally two options: a large pie and a calzone. You can customize each with handful of toppings/ mix-ins. Simple, but sophisticated, if you ask me. But before you show up in Brooklyn to scratch another spot off your NYC pizza bucket list (you guys all have those too, right? Oh, just me…?), make sure you keep reading because I’m breaking down the entire Lucali experience so you can go in with your eyes wide open! In the words of Rob Schneider in ‘The Water Boy’, ‘YOU CAN DO EEET.’
Know before you go:
Eating at Lucali is not an easy or quick endeavor. The line and wait could be enough to turn off even the biggest pizza lover. If you want to snag a table, you’ll have to wait in line to put your name down. The hostess recommended lining up at around 3:45 PM, although we arrived at around 4:15. Yikes. Even if you were the first person in line, you’re not eating for a while since they don’t start seating people until after 6 PM. Ben and I tried eating at Lucali last summer having spent the entire afternoon in Brooklyn. We showed up at around 6 PM, and being that there wasn’t a crowd outside, we figured we were in the clear. WRONG. So very wrong. They couldn’t seat us until after 10 PM. A huge disappointment for two people on quite the pizza pilgrimage on foot from Dumbo.This time around, we committed to the process. I met Ben in line outside of the restaurant, and by 4:15, the line was wrapped around the block, so right off the bat you’re making a massive time commitment on a precious weekend. They started taking names a little after 5, and by the time we made it up to the hostess we were told we’d be seated after 9 PM. AFTER. 9. P.M. In case you didn’t realize, lady, THERE’S A WHOLE LOT OF TIME LEFT IN THE EVENING AFTER 9. Regardless, we accepted our fate and we headed back to the LES for the three hour wait. If you plan on heading to Lucali, your rule of thumb should be that a spot in line near the Bodega pretty much guarantees a table at 9 PM or later. The hostess will also remind you that it’s BYOB and you can only bring one glass of wine per table (I would hope larger parties can bring more because that’s just not fair…)
The food situation…
And so, we endured. And it was time consuming. And it was kind of a pain in the ass. And I was kind of hangry by the end of the wait. Yet it was worth it. It was worth Every. Damn. Bite. Ben and I split both a pie with garlic and a calzone with pepperoni. Both were literally to die for. The pizza, which we CRUSHED, was cheesy and slightly soft, but far from messy. The massive fresh basil leaves on top were also perfection and made the pie a real home run for me. They totally brought the flavor together. The calzone is interesting because it comes with a place of extra sauce and fresh cheese to add on top. It’s so freakin fluffy and tasty that it would be a sin to skip it!Despite the fact that you can see the pizza chefs making the pies (and rolling the dough out with wine bottles…) I have no idea how they make this incredibly simple pizza so damn good and jam packed with flavor. It’s crazy! No frills. Just basic pizza and straight satisfaction. And did I mention the atmosphere? It’s super rustic and intimate. An added bonus!
Lucali was definitely two thumbs up for me. I would highly suggest putting in the effort and making the trip at least once if you’re a New Yorker. You definitely won’t regret it, and that’s especially so when the first piece of pizza hits your tongue. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t find stellar pizza on the Island though! For those who just aren’t up to it, I would suggest trying Rubirosa instead.Have you been to Lucali? What was your experience like?