Pete Zaaz

Imagine this: pizza smothered in crème fraîche, thinly sliced potatoes, green onions and, of course, bacon.  Sounds like a dream, I know. But it's real! I promise. And you can find this, and several other types of non-traditional pizzas at Pete Zaaz in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I am of course always excited about new and good food within walking distance of my apartment, and Pete Zaaz certainly does not disappoint. I have now been there a few times and the baked potato pizza is a clear winner so far, but pretty much everything I have tried has been great. Many of their pies have rather outlandish combinations (like the current "Pretzel Parm" with garlic béchamel, smoked gouda, and fried chicken) but they absolutely work. On our last visit, we also tried the Reuben Stromboli, a smart take on the Reuben sandwich with corned beef, spicy mustard, and sauerkraut stuffed inside a stromboli.

Though they don't have a wood-fired oven, each pizza is made to order and still ends up nicely charred in their convection oven. The other great part about Pete Zaaz is their garden in the back -- since the interior is rather narrow and has limited seating, the back provides a lovely and more open setting to enjoy your pizza. And it's BYOB -- so really, what more do you need? Word is that they are going to start having movie nights during the summer as well, which would really just put it over the top. And I'll let you in on a little secret: instead of grated parmesan or red pepper flakes to add to your pizza, Pete Zaaz has instead created its own spice blend, consisting of a few herbs, spices, and -- crushed Cheeze-its. Genius.


On a side note -- I am FLOORED by all of the wonderful comments on my previous post on my grandmother's rhubarb pie recipe. THANK YOU all for your incredibly kind words -- I love sharing recipes with all of you, and it has been so lovely to "meet" new people and discover new blogs.

Restaurants: Bar Corvo

Since moving to Crown Heights in November, I have gotten a few "huhs" as responses when asked where I live in Brooklyn. However, if you haven't visited Crown Heights lately, I would highly recommend a visit. More affordable than Park Slope and Prospect Heights, and fairly bursting with new businesses, Franklin Avenue seems to be hopping at all hours of the day. Even though I have only lived there for a few months, I have already enjoyed being able to walk to great restaurants and coffee shops in  the neighborhood (a feature sorely missing from my last apartment). The newest of these is Bar Corvo, which, if you are familiar with Brooklyn geography, is technically in Prospect Heights as it sits on Washington Avenue.

Situated in an old building that has housed many a restaurant, Bar Corvo has integrated older aspects of its design, including original wallpaper and glimpses of the many-layered painted brick walls, as part of its decor. The food is northern Italian, perfect for A. and I (who studied abroad in Bologna). We went late on a Friday night, and there was still a wait at 9 pm, which, in this area of Brooklyn is not the most common. I enjoyed a spritz  of prosecco and aperol (my favorite drink while in Italy, and hard to find here) while we waited in the narrow bar area. The long dining room is divided into two sections -- the first includes the bar and pasta bar, with 15 or so seats lined up alongside, and the back is comprised of a large communal table and smaller individual tables. It looks like there is also a garden, but since temperatures in NYC have dropped back down to the 50's, we didn't venture back there.

We had a pretty hard time deciding what to order (do we get a pasta and a main course? Or two appetizers and a pasta??), but in the end we opted for the semolina gnocchi with wild boar ragù, the pork chop with polenta and kale, and a side of the house-made foccaccia. Not the lightest of meals, but certainly delicious. The gnocchi were light and airy, nicely complimented by the complex and earthy ragù. The polenta was perfectly creamy, offsetting the horseradish-covered pork chop very well. My favorite, however, was the foccaccia. Never one to pass up a bread basket (I could never do the Atkins diet), this foccaccia was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, simply seasoned with fresh rosemary and fleur de sel -- which A. is now obsessed with. Since we ate there last week, he has actually said the following to me several times: "Do you know what would be perfect with this? That fleur de sel!" -- whether he was talking about pesto (post to come shortly) or vegetables. It was excellent.

Being rather full, we decided to skip dessert, but I look forward to coming back (especially in summer) to sit on the back patio and enjoy a glass of prosecco. A little slice of Italy, only a few blocks from my apartment -- doesn't get much better than that.