Basil Brick Oven Pizza (28-17 Astoria Blvd.)
Astoria has been home to some wonderfully delicious Italian American pizzas--and for many, those admittedly delicious standbys are exactly what you are seeking (don't get me wrong--I love, love, love me some Rizzo's and Sac's Place). But the world of true artisan pies has seemed exclusive to Brooklyn, the Village, Arthur Avenue, and Eataly... with few exceptions. To think that I not longer have to trek to Kesté or Motorino for a gourmet pie is like a culinary Christmas present.
These aren't thin-n-crispy pizzas. They aren't sicilian. One pie won't feed a family. It really won't even feed two. But if excellent, authentic, Italian pie baked in the northern Italian tradition is something that makes you salivate, then you need to immediately head over to newly opened Basil Brick Oven Pizza just a block from the Astoria Blvd. stop on the N/Q.
The oven, kept piping hot (850-900˚ F) brings these individual-sized rounds to bubbling glory in mere seconds. And while I have learned that a margherita is always my favorite (the ingredients are so fresh, you really don't need much else to confuse your senses), Basil offers a mindblowing selection of over 25 varieties, including speck & brie, gorgonzola & pear, mussels & garlic, or asparagus & egg.
If there are little charred bubbles, your pizza is not burnt. It's a standard marking on this style of pizza, cooked at such extreme temperatures. The crust is crisp on the edge and then fluffy inside... the tomato & basil insanely fresh (watch as Chef Danielle cuts the herbs to-order from a little garden right by the pizza oven).
A limited selection of antipasti, panini, and pastas are also available to round out the meal. We sampled the Fettuccini al Antonio, and were absolutely thrilled. Al dente pasta tossed in what could best be described as a pesto bolognese--tender ground beef, fresh basil, a touch of cream, sauteed mushrooms, Parmigiano Reggiano, and truffle oil. It was savory, decadent, and simply delicious.
The pana cotta, polka dotted with vanilla bean specks, was exceptional, skirted in juicy fresh sliced pear with dollops of whipped cream and a dusting of confectioner's sugar. All of the desserts (including a Nutella stuffed pizza with strawberries), as well as the dishes, are made in-house by Chef Danielle, who brings his family recipes from Piemonte, Italy.
The space is small, but immaculate... the seating limited to not many more than twenty or so. And when the neighborhood discovers what a true gem they have, there will easily be a line down the block. But for now, take advantage while you can. Delivery is even available, though I recommend trying these masterful pies in person, fresh from the oven, as they are intended.