There are few things as satanic as New York City in March. While some of the Northern Hemisphere gets to enjoy ankle socks and baby ducks following their moms through fields of daffodils, we get endless slush. Every year, the strong persevere (everyone else moves to LA) - and that’s partly because of happy restaurants like Montesacro in Williamsburg. It’s the only spot in North Brooklyn where you can have an “outdoor” pizza party with seven of your friends in the dead of winter.
Montesacro’s greenhouse dining room has enough natural light to inspire an emergency photosynthesis meet-up and enough ficuses to seduce a Nat Geo location scout. Any month of the year, you can look up and play I Spy with Laguardia-bound planes and light-polluted stars through the glass roof. Come when it’s flurrying, and you’ll get to enjoy Roman-style pizza in what feels like a snowglobe. Even in the summer and on weekends, there are usually tables available for a last-minute dinner before a night out in Williamsburg.
Montesacro’s backyard is optimal, but the Italian food isn’t quite as standout. Their specialty (and the best thing here) is the bubbly, oval-shaped pinsa. These charred flatbreads all cost around $20, and we suggest ordering a few to share with a group. The crust is more reminiscent of focaccia than what you’d get at a slice shop, and the dough forms characteristically uneven peaks and valleys - like a graph tracking fanny pack sales over time. The pinsa are baked so expertly that the crust makes up for the somewhat forgettable toppings.
If you stray from the pinsa, you’ll have a below-average experience. And that would be a shame since you do your taxes on time, and seem pretty kind. We’ve eaten inconsistent and rubbery pastas, tepid cauliflower, and a perfectly fine bavette steak that came with a side of undercooked potatoes. So, with the same conviction as a bright-eyed public defender in her first criminal court case, stick with the pinsa.
Keep Montesacro in mind when it’s cold, you have icy morning shower hair, and a cab splashes you with puddle water the color of espresso. There won’t be baby ducks or daffodils, but you’ll be able to push off moving to LA for at least another year.
Good old fashioned pizza parties necessitate a salad or two. Our salad of choice at Montesacro is the one with kale, brussels sprouts, and big shavings of parmesan.
The stracciatella on the maranella pinsa is bathrobe-level silky. Spread it across the crust like sauce so that it mixes with the bitter broccoli rabe, olive oil drizzle, and spicy pork sausage, and you’ll understand why this is our favorite pinsa on the menu.
Unlike airlines or dance team bullies, margherita pizzas have never done anything to upset us. They’re supportive, simple, and consistent. And this one is an exemplar of its species - it’s got minimal tomato sauce and some nice pockets of pure mozzarella.
If you want to try something a little less traditional, make it the garbatella pinsa. It’s the only pinsa we’ve had at Montesacro that’s served pre-cut, and each slice comes with a glob of really good olive-oil cured tuna. Just be mindful that there’s a lot of caper mayo going on here, so prepare to feel like you’ve eaten a rich tuna sandwich for dinner.
Of the pastas, this is the one we feel best about. It’s pretty conventional cacio e pepe, but that doesn’t mean you won’t take a bite and then get protective over the cheesy, tubular noodles.
This pasta, however, is not your friend. The garlic is overcooked to the point of bitterness, and there are almost no clams to be found in the chewy pasta.
Another entree to ignore like an ex-coworker in the Trader Joe’s line. This bavette comes hacked into big pieces, with potatoes so undercooked that you will question their true spud identities.