Lucali is one of those nearly impossible restaurants to get into, famous for great pizza. I couldn’t believe we got into the Brooklyn location, and it lived up to the hype.
Lucali is home to this signature Chevy that never moves.
What Is Lucali’s?
Brooklyn-born and bred, Mark Iacono opened Lucali’s in the former site of his favorite childhood Carroll Gardens candy store. Working in the construction trade with no formal culinary experience, he didn’t want to see a neighborhood landmark go away. He signed a lease six days later and spent the next two and a half years building out the restaurant himself after his day job.
There are no menus save for the black a-board on the sidewalk outside. There are just two basic items on the menu: pizza, and calzones. The standard pie is a Margherita with generous fresh basil sprigs at the corners for personal application to taste for $32 (approximately 16-18″ diameter though variable and imperfect by design.) Lucali offers a few toppings for an additional cost: lightly marinated artichoke hearts ($8), pepperoni ($5), shallots, onion, garlic, hot pepper, sweet pepper, or mushroom ($3.)
Calzones are offered in large ($29) or small ($19) with a side of tomato sauce for $4, hot pepper sauce ($7.) A unique (and the only) side is a bowl of “Roni” Pepperoni Chips ($7) – they were absolutely satisfying.
The restaurant has just a handful of tables inside and a couple on the street, it also offers take-away for those who can’t get a table.
How Did I Get Into Lucali (Brooklyn?)
I cheated. Plain and simple, a supplier for my travel agency from a luxury cruise line, Uniworld, is from Brooklyn and knows the Iacono family. He called Mark personally (!) and secured a table on the day for our party of four adults, and my two children.
Not everyone “has a guy” to get them a table at Lucali so how does one secure a table without an impossible connection? They wait. We overheard one person that showed up at 3 pm (they open at 5.) She was seventh in line for her party of four and went in approximately three hours after she arrived. We observed another person waiting about 90 minutes for a to-go pie.
Does It Compare To The Hype?
I’m a pizza fanatic. I once worked in a local chain pizza restaurant as a manager, but we weren’t putting out the artisan quality I have come to love. I have tried and critically rated some of the best pizza on offer in Pittsburgh and elsewhere around the country.
This is the best I’ve had – anywhere.
It beats other New York haunts like John’s of Bleecker, or the purported original L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele that inspired the eat portion of Eat, Pray, Love.
Lucali is the favorite of world-famous chef, David Chang, Beyonce and Jay-Z, and other luminaries. In fact, the last time my contact ate there, David Beckham was in, brought a pie out to his driver while he dined in, and Ed Sheeran walked through the doors.
Mr. Iacono’s Lucali has been the subject of a number of documentaries about his expert execution and focused approach.
But dining next to celebrities doesn’t mean anything if the pie isn’t stellar. Lucali’s was crispy but not overcooked, fresh, simple, and flavorful. Dave Portnoy ranked it a 9.3 – equal to just three others in his hundreds of reviews and tied for first. It lives up to the hype, without doubt.
Brooklyn, New York Location
Address: 575 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Phone: (718) 858-4086
Hours: 5-11 pm; closed Tuesdays
The pair of Lucali pizzas we shared were utter perfection. While I was grateful to have a connection getting me a table inside, I would gladly wait for take-away as long as it takes the next time I have the chance, it was that good.
What do you think? Have you tried Lucali? What’s your favorite New York pie?