I live a couple of blocks from Sottocasa but would have never noticed it, hidden away as it is underground between two staircases. I was looking for it, though, because one of my favorite Brooklyn pizza chefs, the owner of Emily, trained here for years and still talks about what great pizza it is. The owner of Sottocasa trained at NYC favorite Kestè, so it’s a Russian nesting doll of great pizzaiole around here.
I’ve considered delivery from Sottocasa before, but they have this policy of only delivering one pizza at a time to preserve the integrity of the crust for each customer. While I really appreciate the idea, when I get a hankering for pizza, it must be satiated immediately. I’m glad I waited to eat at the restaurant, though, because it’s an adorable candle-lit spot with a glass-enclosed backyard covered in breezy cloth and twinkling lights.
The night I visited with a friend, the dining room was already full by 7 p.m., and the backyard filled up quickly after that. We started with the Tagliere, a spread of Italian cheeses and cured meats. The cheeses ranged from hard and mild to soft and blue to oh-so-creamy sweet, while the meats were varying levels of spicy and funky. It was served with an entire focaccia crust, and crust is sort of the point at Sottocasa, so you’re welcome.
We wanted to try one of the red sauce pizzas, so we chose the Laura with tomatoes, mozzarella, mascarpone, speck, and rosemary. These are personal pizzas (with a leftover slice for later if you can control yourself), but with the appetizer, two slices each was the perfect portion. The wood-fired crust was that blend of crispy and chewy that New York pizza strives for, with that little bit of char you expect from authentic Italian pie. It wasn’t quite as airy as the crust at Emily, but I haven’t found any that is. The toppings were fantastic, really fresh and flavorful, and I loved the way the edges of the speck (a kind of cured ham) singed in the oven and added some smokiness. I love, love basil on pizza, but the rosemary was a great herb alternative, and the sweet mascarpone cheese added depth to all of the rich savory flavors. There was enough sauce but not too much to make the pizza soggy, and it was very light and slightly sweet.
The service was provided by Italians who seemed to have varied interest in visiting their tables, so don’t go to Sottocasa if you’re in a hurry, but do go to Sottocasa for a delicious, straight-from-Naples. The Boerum Hill neighborhood is lucky to have such authentic pizza, and the rest of Brooklyn is lucky that Boerum Hill is so easy to get to.
– Katie Ett, donuts4dinner.com