Revisiting the restaurant that put Bushwick on the map


When Virgin Holidays asked us to revisit one of the most popular pizzerias in Brooklyn for their new Trending Travel Guide to iconic hotspots, we took it as an opportunity to see whether the most popular spot in Bushwick–Roberta’s–held up to its hype after all these years.

Below is an excerpt. Is Roberta’s still a favorite of yours? Let us know in the comments.

When Roberta’s first opened, it seemed like the kind of lark that might not last. A few dudes— Chris Parachini, Brandon Hoy, and Carlo Mirarchi— built out much of the wood-fired pizzeria by hand, and opened even without working gas (they used butane burners for the first year.) But along with perfectly charred, soft, chewy pies with charming names like Beastmaster, they also managed to do fried chicken and fresh greens surprisingly well for a bunch of hipsters.

Nearly a decade later, it’s still worth the pilgrimage. Aside from some veggie-forward options on the menu—former chef de cuisine Nick Barker is to thank for an ever-so-slight shift to a lighter, California style of cooking—there have been no fancy updates to the restaurant, which you enter through a stickered, graffitied red vestibule.

Immediately to your left is the wood oven that turns out their famous pies, and beyond that a dining room whose most elaborate décor might be the Christmas lights strung along the walls. If you can, sit in the courtyard where you can see inside the studio of Heritage Radio. The culinary-focused station resides within a shipping container that is also home to a garden atop its roof. A substantially larger rooftop garden a few miles away supplies even more of the restaurant’s produce in the summer months.

It’s all seemingly slapdash—a shipping container here, some string lights there—but the enduring appeal of Roberta’s is that amidst this unfussy setting, there is real thought behind the quality of the food, and for that matter, the beer and wine, too. Roberta’s is likely the only pizzeria in the city where you can find “Orange” wine by the glass, or sour gose on draft.

Once you pick your poison, start with the hardest to pronounce items on the menu. The ‘Nduja (neh-jew-ah) is like a fiery red puddle of spicy pork sausage. If you don’t like to play with fire, stay away, or order it along with the house-made stracciatella, better known as the delicious inside of burrata, as a creamy antidote to the sausage’s heat. Both are served with hunk of buttery, grilled bâtard, one of the many breads you can order next door from Roberta’s bakery, along with its popular sticky buns.

Read more on the Virgin site.

Photo by Nicole Davis

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