Monday, January 5, 2009

Co. versus Motorino Head-to-Head

Co Line Saturday Night
We've been following the progress at Jim Lahey's new pizza venture, Co., via Slice for some time now. They opened last Friday and the early reports have been quite good. So Blondie hatched a plan. Hit up both Motorino and Co. One night, two pizza joints? Lawman and I were up for the challenge...

Given all the buzz that Co. has been getting we figured it would be best to start there. We had thought that Co would be open at 4pm, but alas, when Blondie arrived they were closed and said they weren't opening until 5pm. So we did a little shopping and came back closer to 5. A line had already formed, but all things considered it wasn't terrible. At least this wasn't Milkbar.

Saturday Night Line at Co

The first folks started filing in at 5:12pm and we were among the first seated. We quickly selected the Margherita Pie and the Ham and Cheese. The wait for the pizza wasn't too long, but there are definitely some kinks to be worked out. Between the waiters and the kitchen I think there was some sort of breakdown in communication in terms of what the table numbers were. As a result the waiter kept bringing us pizzas...that weren't ours. We turned down three pizzas while waiting for our own. I know. I know. What were we thinking?

When our pizzas did arrive they were quite good...

Ham and Cheese Pizza

The ham and cheese was our hands down favorite. Often times when prosciutto makes an appearance on pizza you lose the melt in your mouth goodness of the meat because all the moisture disappears from the cooking. At Co. they put the prosciutto on right at the end.

Ham and Cheese Upskirt

Now that's what I'm talking about. And I'm always pro-gruyère. The crust was light and chewy. And the addition of caraway seeds was a nice bonus.

Slice of Ham and Cheese

The Margherita Pie didn't kill me. Blondie was more of a fan than I was. Don't get me wrong, it was good--better than a lot of places--but I'm from New Haven. Pizza is serious business to me.

Co Margherita Pie

I hold it to a high standard and frankly the sauce was a little flat. It just tasted like crushed tomato to me. I like my sauce with a little tang.

Co Margarita Upskirt

Overall good pizza and definitely a welcome addition to the nabe. I wouldn't make a return visit for the Margherita, but I'd love to come back and try some of their other pies. Their special pie with brussels sprouts, béchamel, cantal, buffalo mozzarella, shaved chestnuts, and smoked bacon sounds kind of awesome.

Speaking of brussels sprouts, we did end up having them on a little place called Motorino in Williamsburg. Now Blondie's been trying to get to Motorino since it first opened, but for one reason or another her desire for their Neapolitan pie has been denied. This time the L train's service interruptions threatened to spoil our fun. I could spend 3 paragraphs telling you what happened, but it's the L train. It took 1 hour to get from 8th Ave in Manhattan to Graham Ave in Brooklyn. Use your imagination.

When we arrived at Motorino there was a 45 minute wait for a table. But hark! Three seats were available at the bar. Bring on the pie.

We clearly had to try the Margherita DOC. And for good measure we ordered the Seasonal Artichoke Pie, I mean, it's seasonal. How could we not? And after seeing brussels sprouts also made the pizza topping cut here as well, it seemed a sign that we needed some brussels in our lives or at least our bellies.

The pies came out fairly quickly and I have to say that Motorino lives up to the praise. The crust for all three pizzas, while a bit denser than Co.'s, was pleasantly chewy.

Their Margherita was tops for me and Lawman--top pie at Motorino and top pie of the night.

Motorino Margherita DOC

Now this is a sauce I can get behind. Bright, fresh, tomato-y. Delicious. Just the right balance of sauce and cheese for a Margherita pie.

Motorino Margherita Upskirt

The brussel sprouts pizza was a close second for us and Blondie's top pie pick. The brussel sprouts themselves didn't overwhelm and the speck worked well with the parm and fior di latte. I liked the texture of the little charred brussel sprout leaves. This is definitely something I'm going to try at home.

Brussels Sprout Speck Pizza

Blondie and Lawman were also big fans of the Artichoke pie. I have to say I found the smoked pancetta a bit salty and distracting from an otherwise excellent pie.

Artichoke  Pancetta Pizza

I don't often get out to Williamsburg. Would you ride the G train if you didn't have to? Really? But I can confidentally say Motorino is worth the trip. In the Co. vs. Motorino head-to-head, Motorino wins!


230 Ninth Avenue
at West 24th Street
New York NY 10001
(212) 243-1105

319 Graham Avenue
at Devoe Street
Brooklyn NY 11211


Anonymous said...

The ham and cheese pizza looks really good. That line at Co. is no joke if you show up at 6:30. I had to leave, it was way too crowded.

Paulie Gee said...

My son and I showed up at Co. on Saturday at about 6:30PM, spied the crowd in the vestibule and hopped back in my car (ceding a nice on the street spot) and headed to Motorino. Thanks to a bit of luck (all groups of four and one opened table for two) we were digging into one of those brussel sprouts and speck masterpieces before we would have sat down at Co. I still haven't sampled Jim Lahey's pies, but they couldn't possibly be any better than the woodfired beauties that Mathieu Palumbino's churning out at Graham and Devoe.


Paulie Gee

Anonymous said...

hey, thats the back of my head in the second pic.. oo, i'm handsome..
seriously though, great pizza, tasty chicken liver toast, not so sure I'd pay $5 for bread and/or olive oil again though.
Hennepin beer choice is such a plus (I'm still dumbfounded why they have Blue Moon on tap, its crap).
Best plus is that we live steps away, looking forward to seeing how this place evolves.

Anonymous said...

I live 2 blocks away from Co. and I have to say I was disgusted when I looked through the window and saw Blue Moon and Stella Artois (among other InBev products) on tap. There's no way they would work so hard to serve quality pizza and not want to serve quality beverages. Jim Lahey knows better. In my opinion, he was paid by their beer distrubutor (and probably given free beer) to have those on-tap for at least 6 months to a year. Maybe longer, depends on how big that pay-to-play check was. Realistically, it's a business and since it's taken them so long to get Co. up and running, they probably needed those incentives. I don't know if they have better beers by the bottle but hopefully they will. I can only imagine how horrendous the wine list is.

Anonymous said...

Ha, I went to Co. last night and they had the same issues with table numbers. Eventually our waiter let us keep an extra pizza bianca, so, score. As for the beer, while I'd never order either, you can do worse at a pizza joint, even a particularly aspirational one, than Blue Moon and Stella. Hennepin's only $6 and brewed in New York (owned by Belgians, but Duvel, not InBev). Peak Organic is still independent, I think. It's fine.

Siobhan said...

We're hoping that Co. is able to iron out their issues mainly service and beer choices. We will be back.

And Motorino may have changed my mind about Williamsburg. I can live amongst hipsters if it means awesome pizza can be delivered.

TeeIsenhour said...

went to Co last night. service was very good for us although it did take 45 mins for a table of 4. as pointed out above, hennepin on tap is genius and it blows my mind more places in NYC don't have this yet.

as far as the pizzas go I think the article is spot on. the ham and cheese was fantastic. the margherita was fine but i would try the other, more unique things. we tried the pie with sausage, mushrooms, onions, and some chili spices which was very good. i will definitely go back for the ham and cheese at the very least.

i look forward to trying motorino

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Thanks for the reports. I have heard similar reports from friends about Co.