Slavering outer-borough Chowhounders have recently been storming the unmarked gates of Carroll Gardens's newest brick-oven pizzeria, a rustic establishment being compared on that contentious, cultlike Website to such sacred pizza cows as Di Fara's. It's not only the posters who've evoked that mythic name chef-owner Mark Iacono has as well. "My favorite pizza is Di Fara," says Iacono, who looks a little like a Pope of Greenwich Villageera Eric Roberts. "The recipe is pretty much the same. Difference is, mine is made in a brick oven." His pie is also imbued with a feisty smokiness, courtesy of a wood fire, and has a flavorful crust that's comparatively soft and puffy, closer to classic coal-oven practitioners like Totonno's and Grimaldi's than Di Fara's. "I call it old-school-Brooklyn style," he says. "That's what I'm going for."
The Carroll Gardens native says he's still tweaking his dough recipe and trying to acclimate himself to the beehive oven, so for the past couple of weeks, he's been feeding the curious neighbors brave enough to venture a meal in a place without a name (Iacono says he'll probably call it Lucali's Pizza) or a phone number, never mind a liquor license all of which should arrive around the time of the so-called "official opening" in early November. (Old-timers will remember the location as Louie's candy shop, a venerable hangout where Iacono spent much of his childhood gulping down egg creams.) For now, guinea pigs are amply rewarded with tender, tasty pies, anointed with a tangily sweet tomato sauce and milky puddles of imported buffalo mozzarella and its domestic equivalent and sprinkled with grated Grana Padano. Toppings are basic and can also be added to the menu's only other item: a baked calzone, oozing with fresh ricotta and nicely charred at the edges. Speaking of char, it also shows up a lot on the bottom of some of Iacono's pies, thanks to a pesky hot spot he's yet to master. These pies require patience. If yours goes awry, Iacono will toss it and start anew. But that's the price of pizza perfection, a goal that few pizzaioli aspire to, and one the New York pizza-loving community should wholeheartedly support.
575 Henry St., nr. 1st Pl., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; no phone yet.
Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld