Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review: Ramagi Brick Oven Pizza, Brooklyn

UPDATE: Ramagi closed in 2016 and a new pizza restaurant - Streetsweeper - has replaced it. 

On a trip to the lower reaches of Brooklyn (Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst), we decided to include a pizza stop. Since there really are few (if any) worthy pizza places in Bay Ridge, Dyker, or Bensonhurst, I checked online for some worthy pizza. I ruled out three excellent places - Totonno's, L&B, and DiFara (click any of them for the PQ review) because I wanted to try something new.
Three pizzas in four days!

I found a nice list of Brooklyn's 10 Best Under-the-Radar Pizzas at, and we settled on Ramagi Brick Oven Pizza in "rapidly gentrifying Prospect Lefferts Gardens." This was an interesting experiment, because in the same week we'd visited two pizza joints in comeback neighborhoods. First, we had B.O.P. Pizza in Fell's Point, a Baltimore neighborhood that gentrified successfully and completely many years ago. Then we traveled to Philly's Fishtown, still very much in transition but drawing swarms of hipsters, to sample the awesome pizza at Pizza Brain.

Prospect Leffert Gardens looks yet very rough; I didn't see much "rapid gentrification" and in fact this lovely storefront looks very much out of place in this hardscrabble neighborhood (with a Papa John's location across the street). And beyond the scooters parked in front, not much hipster activity such as a bow tie, vintage clothing, or even an Urban Outfitters location.
Traditional pie with sausage

The inside was small and cozy with bare brick walls. The staff was friendly with us and a small stream of customers. There are some appetizers (calamari, caprese, garlic knots, wings) and a few salads in addition to the pizzas. 

The have a margherita with fresh mozzarella for $19, a pie with baked ziti on it, and several other varieties. We opted for the "traditional" pie with tomato sauce and conventional mozzarella. It's only thirteen bucks! We added some cost and some flavor with a sausage topping.

The pie arrived quickly. It had a classic look, and it really delivered. The crust was similar to the pizza we had at Pizza Brain; delicately crisp outside, al dente chewy inside, and sturdy enough to support the toppings. The sauce and cheese were conventional, but not ordinary. The creamy mozzarella was the perfect complement to the tangy sauce, but it was the experience as a whole that made this pie sing. The generous chunks of real Italian sausage were perfect for this pie.

Somewhat belatedly, I'm getting a feel for why folks wax rhapsodic about a "New York slice."  I've eaten plenty of bad New York style pie, but this pie was wonderful. Now if we can only persuade New Yorkers to stop folding slices and turning them into pizza sangawitches, we'll be making real progress.
Happier when fed

It's splitting hairs to put precise labels on every pie, but Pizza Brain makes the quintessential American Pie; this is its New York cousin and another winner. Crust gets a 9, cheese and sauce a 9, sausage a 9, service and ambiance a 9. Destination pizza and certainly deserves to be ON your radar.

594 Rogers Ave
(between Hawthorne St & Winthrop St) 
BrooklynNY 11225

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