Dining Out: Legendary Patsy’s Pizzeria lives up to its name in Bay Ridge
Bay Ridge has a new high end and historic pizzeria.
This past November, Patsy’s Pizzeria opened its doors to the neighborhood much to the delight of the community, which has been extremely receptive to not only the pizza, the eatery’s staple, but also to the robust selection of entrees, appetizers and fine wine.
Managing partner and Bay Ridge native Charlie Cavallo discussed the growing success of one of the oldest pizzerias in America. “We originally opened one on 450 Dean Street about three years ago, right across the street from the Barclays Center, which has been a great success,” he said.
Patsy’s Pizzeria, Cavallo explained, was first opened in New York City in 1933 by newlywed immigrants Pasquale “Patsy” and Carmella Lancieri. The eatery quickly established itself as a legendary, southern Italian, old-fashioned neighborhood staple, aptly becoming a late night spot for celebrities, athletes and everyday patrons alike.
Subsequently, an employee of Patsy’s Pizzeria (whose name also happened to be “Patsy”) opened his own Patsy’s under the Brooklyn Bridge — a restaurant that later became the famed Grimaldi’s, after his surname.
With the eatery’s rich history in mind, Cavallo was asked to join the team — which currently consists of Joe, Jackie and Rose Juliano, Angella Burgess and himself — at the end of last summer, a time when he was honing his second decade in the restaurant industry.
“I was working at a high end Italian restaurant chain in Manhattan at the time,” he said of when he received the phone call that changed everything. “They said ‘We’re opening a Patsy’s in Bay Ridge and we want you on board.'”
The decision was a no-brainer for Cavallo, who has as much history in Bay Ridge as Patsy’s has in its name.
“I went to Xaverian High School and St. Finbar grammar school,” he said. “I’ve been working in New Jersey for 22 years and also in Manhattan so to be right in Bay Ridge is a blessing. It’s life changing.”
The space, which had been vacant for some time, was kitchen ready and in great shape. Once the deal was official, the modifications for the modernized yet cozy venue began.
“We changed the bar tops, added a coal fire oven right in the dining room so everyone can see, we changed the backsplashes,” he said, noting also the wine racks built atop the seating. “We wanted to soften it up a bit.”
As for the food — we get it.
We pregamed our massively delicious meal with little neck raw clams ($8 for six) and blue point raw oysters ($14 for six), each of which were as fresh and savory as they were appealing to look at. (Cavallo said the seafood was “the freshest of the fresh,” and it didn’t disappoint.)
Next, we sampled a sizable portion of the Lobster Fra Diavolo Shrimp (a special, available for $25) , a perfectly cooked pasta topped with lobster, shrimp and clams. Each ingredient was not only fresh, but loaded with flavor, the seafood especially as it was doused in a slightly spicy sauce packing just the right punch.
We followed what we already thought to be a top contender with the Pappardelle Wild Boar Ragu ($20), a dish that quickly gave our starters a run for their money. This exceptional pasta dish is slow cooked with fresh thyme, shallots and tomato. The meat from boneless wild boar shoulder was tender, juicy and rich with flavor. The sauce, which also had a hint of spice, was the cherry on top.
The entrees were next. We each sampled the Veal Milanese ($24) and the Wild Pacific Pan Roasted Salmon ($24).
The veal dish consists of a breaded veal cutlet with arugula blanketed with a creamy Gorgonzola. It was thinly sliced and the perfect combination of tender and crunchy. Each bite had us coming back for more — no matter how full we felt. The salmon dish was just as fantastic. The star of the show was cooked to perfection and included a sidekick of creamy pesto sauce that somehow made it even more delicious.
Then it was time for the pizzas, the menu item that the original Patsy’s made its name on. It was easy to forget how full we were when two 16-inch pizza pies — one Original Coal Oven Pizza with pepperoni ($21 including toppings) and one Alla Vodka ($22) — made their way to our table. The classic was absolutely sensational. Served on an amazing thin crust with the right amount of tomato sauce and mozzarella, we couldn’t stop at just one slice. The other pie, topped with vodka sauce and perfectly portioned dollops of ricotta, was just as out of this world.
Last came dessert which, of course, we left room for. We were served a little bit of everything — from Patsy’s cheesecake, cannoli and tiramisu (all $8 on the menu, and all made in-house by Patsy’s chef, who also happens to be a pastry chef) to its Panna Cotta ($7), all top quality and worth the wait ’til the end of the meal.
Thus far, Bay Ridge is loving the new business — and so is Cavallo. “After all those years working elsewhere, we said, ‘Hey, it would be nice to have our own friends and family come here and be with us in Bay Ridge and have some fun.’ We’ve all worked hard our whole lives,” he said, adding that Patsy’s has already made great connections with neighboring businesses like Cebu, Chadwick’s and Kettle Black — to name a few. “This was a nice challenge to come to our own neighborhood and it was just the right timing. Bay Ridge is a spot where they can use a boost and a name like Patsy’s Pizzeria — and all the businesses help each other out. It’s a true joy to be in this area.”
Lunch and dinner specials aside, Patsy’s offers kids’ parties where they can learn to make their own pizzas, as well as holiday specials like Valentine’s Day and the Big Game. Happy Hour, which is from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, offers jaw-dropping deals on drinks and dishes such as wings, sausage, meatballs, Patsy’s own “Dirty Chips” (a gorgonzola topped house-made potato chip), and more.
Especially exciting right now, Cavallo boasted, is Patsy’s brand new brunch menu. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, Patsy’s patrons can do “Brunch for Two,” an unbeatable deal that — at just $34 for two — comes with a choice of any antipasto, a salad to share, and a choice of any pizza (including two brunch-specific pies: the Eggs Benedict and the Chicken & Waffles).
Most of all, Cavallo is happy to help bring something unique to the neighborhood. “I feel like there hasn’t been anything new and exciting in a while,” he said. “It’s nice to see people have slice of pizza and glass of wine at the same time in Brooklyn. It’s amazing.”
8814 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Monday, Wednesday, Sunday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Thursday: 11 a.m.-12 a.m.
Friday, Saturday: 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
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