Sake Gumi
I think I've found it: the best pizza joint in New York. Ok, ok, maybe that is too definitive a statement, and I'm not trying to claim that I've had ALL pizza in NY (I have yet to trek to the middle of Brooklyn for Di Fara), but The House of Pizza & Calzone is a huge deal. HUGE!

Troy and Kumiko took me to this little place for the first time when we couldn't figure out what to do for dinner. The House is nestled between Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, a good 10 blocks from the subway-- it's a no-frills, super old school pizzeria that has been around since 1952. Through the years, it has been handed over to new owners only three times (don't quote me, but that's what I recall), and I doubt that it's strayed too far from its Sicilian roots.

And these roots go deep. In the devout Catholic tradition, they won't serve ham on Fridays (you won't find me there on that day). The Southern Italian accents have morphed into a Brooklyn twang, but no joke, this place somehow reminded me of the pizza places I walked into in Sicily. It's casual, brightly lit, neighborhoody-- all it needs is a framed hologram of Jesus on the wall. There are just a few tables in the back, and a small counter, but I imagine that most order togo. Paul, the owner behind the counter is a really friendly big guy who knew the cops who walked in by first name. That sort of place- like Cheers, but a pizza joint. Above is Paul's hand in the picture, holding up what is destined to be deliciousness.

Alright, the pizza. A bit pricey, but ridiculously good-- the pies range from $14-19, and have silly names in ode to the homeland like "DaVinci" and "Forza Azzuri" (named for Italia's World Cup championship last year). Between the 3 of us, we got the "Primadonna" which is topped with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and basil, which was more than enough.

Essentially, this is a Pizza Margherita with prosciutto. The crust is super thin, the prosciutto not too salty, the cheese fresh, and the fresh basil of course just makes everything tastier. Truly good pizza, without anything fancy added- just simple and fresh. It all melted in my mouth one slice at a time.

I think it was these Arancini balls that reminded me most of my travels through Sicily-- these are truly a Sicilian staple. Over there, you have these things for snacks in the middle of the day, or as your meal for dinner. Whenever is a good time for these deep-fried balls of rice and cheese. These guys were only rice, ricotta and mozarella-- but usually, you can find them with ground beef and a tomato sauce rice too. Mouth watering.

And last, but not least...

Do you see this? Do you have any idea what this is? I'll tell you: it's a donut filled with ricotta and ham. They call it a calzone-- and while usually calzones are baked in the oven along with pizzas, this place actually deep fries it!!! It's a beautifully designed heart-attack in a pocket, that happens to be one of the best thing I've eaten ever. The sweet ricotta delightfully bursts and oozes through your teeth, countering the perfectly cured, thinly sliced ham; the dough is just as a doughnut should be, a tiny bit crispy on the outside, fluffy within. The entire experience is finished off with a long piece of mozarrella stretched out from calzone to mouth. And at $4, it's truly a bargain meal-- it's the size of a football for god's sake! Cherish each moment!

On the cover of their take-out menu, they state that they are the "Home of the Original Deep-Fried Calzone". I love that- I mean, have you ever heard of anyone else deep frying their calzone? It's a title well-deserved. And don't you worry, you can walk it all off on your way back to the subway stop.


House of Pizza & Calzone
132 Union Street
Red Hook, Brooklyn
(718) 624-9107

Monday - Thursday: 11am - 9 pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am - 10pm
Sunday 11:30am - 7:30pm

- Calzone