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Suitable For: Dinner With Hip Distant Relatives From Overseas Who Are Coming To NYC For The First Time And Messaged You On Facebook
Someone you're related to in ways you don't totally understand (something about a grandmother's cousin) is here from Oslo or Sao Paulo, and because you're a good person, you're going to show them the city for a night. These people are probably staying at an AirBnB in Bushwick already, but even if they're not, give them the Brooklyn they've heard so much about and take them to Roberta's.
You could make the argument that your goodbye dinner should be a place you’re familiar with. Maybe even a spot that everyone knows about, a classic NYC institution. If that’s how you’re feeling, you could always try an old steakhouse like Peter Luger or an Italian spot like Bamonte’s - but we’d rather keep it casual. Do Roberta’s instead. It’s laid-back enough that one of your friends can get wine-drunk and start crying, and you can reminisce about every other time you’ve eaten this pizza.
When Roberta’s opened, it was the first thing to successfully convince hoards of people to hang out (and eventually live) in Bushwick. Today, it’s still the most compelling restaurant in the neighborhood. The pizza is as outstanding as ever, but the Roberta’s reach has now expanded to include a garden, separate takeout operation, event space - the list goes on. At the end of the day, basically everyone can agree: Roberta’s is something special. Come at brunch if you’re looking to (partially) avoid the waits.
We can’t really think of a time of day when Roberta’s isn’t crowded (especially when it’s nice outside - they have one of the largest and best patio setups in the whole city). So it’s very possible you’ll have enough time to go get a tattoo of their Bee Sting pizza before you can actually eat it. It’s just part of the experience.
Roberta’s is a pain in the butt to go to for dinner, because there’s always a wait. We aren’t saying it’s slow at brunch, but it’s a little more manageable, and if you get there on the earlier side you should be fine. Obviously, you’ll be getting pizza here (it’s some of the best in the whole city), but you can always supplement with eggs or the burger.
At some point in its lifetime, Roberta’s really could have easily become the butt of a joke. A Bushwick restaurant run by stoners, with a radio station and an “urban garden,” that Manhattanites and tourists love to obsess over and which regularly has two hour waits? Come on. Instead, it’s become an icon. That’s in large part because the pizza is consistently incredibly good (as is the rest of the food). No matter what, we always have a great time at Roberta’s.
Late-night, you’ll probably feel out of place here with your kids. It’s Bushwick, and people are going to be getting rowdy. Then again, you probably aren’t going out late at night with your kids. That wouldn’t be a very good precedent, and it could mess with some sleep cycles. So stop by for lunch or an early dinner. Roberta’s isn’t as busy then, but the pizza is just as good.
You probably have a lot of associations with Roberta’s: the first time you went to Bushwick for a restaurant, your favorite lunch if you work in Midtown, the Whole Foods frozen food section, and Frances McDormand. That last one might be specific to us - Frances once sat next to us, but the point is - when people think Roberta’s, they think about a whole lot of other stuff. When it comes down to it though, all of that other stuff is just a distraction from the most important thing: the pizza. It’s chewy and fluffy and what we think longingly about when we eat almost every other Neapolitan pizza. But Roberta’s doesn’t just belong on this list because of its crust - the toppings are just as good.
Roberta’s won’t take a reservation unless you’re a party of 10-16, but if that’s the size of your team, consider yourself lucky. They do a prix fixe “Lunch Pizza Party” for $40-$55 per person, as well as dinner parties with packages starting at $75 per person. The catch is that the latest reservation time they’ll accept (weekdays only) is 6:30pm. But that’s fine. You should be allowed to leave work early for this anyway, and you’ll be out in time to hit some Bushwick bars.
A trip to Roberta’s is all about the environment, and sampling the entire menu. The vegetables are always amazing and the meats and seafood tend to be exceptional as well. Waits can be long, but if you come in a small group, you can usually grab a first-come-first-served seat in the back garden or at the bar, where they serve the full menu. Needless to say, you can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas, but the Bee Sting with soppressata, chili, and honey is a must-order.
If There’s A Wait, Drink At: The Narrows.
One of the highlights of dinner at Blanca - a very expensive tasting menu spot attached to Roberta’s - is a charred, fluffy sphere of bread. In reality, it’s just Roberta’s pizza dough in a different shape, and you could be eating it tonight if you order pies from this Bushwick institution.
Roberta’s has nearly twice as much picnic table seating on their giant patio as they do in the actual restaurant. The outdoor space has its own bar and the atmosphere feels like a park where everyone eats the same, excellent Neapolitan-style pizza.
Pizza delivery and takeout available - call to order.
Robertas has a large, fenced-in patio that also happens to be tiki themed. So if you want to eat a good Neapolitan pizza at a picnic table surrounded by plants, this East Williamsburg spot is a great option. You can make a reservation online.
We want Roberta’s all the time, but an off-time brunch may be the smartest move. The waits tend to be less intense, and in addition to the heavenly (breakfast) pizza, you also get a chance to sample what this kitchen can do with eggs.