"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" - Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Motorino - The Use of Superlatives

The Use of Superlatives

   Superlatives are more often a product of emotion than reason. A rational person does not engage in absolutes without caveats. And with them, what are we really saying? Best not to fall into the habit of using superlatives. Le raison avant la passion.

La perfezione della pizza.

   It is easy to be drawn into rating familiar things like pizzas, hamburgers, martinis... A year ago Ed Levine’s and Adam Kuban ran around the country in an effort to determine the (superlative deleted) pizza in America. Creative competitions generate interest but with so many variables, their results are meaningless.

Business was brisk.

   Bar Eater's Blog, friend and wine consultant, Jackie used (the superlative) when she told us about Motorino East Village last year. And each time we go, we say this has got to be the, (superlative deleted) pizza in New York. (Speaking as a New Yorker, that may mean the world). We are always blown away. Last year Patti took our friend Carlo, a very discriminating Milanese gentleman, to eat at Motorino. Sig. Carlo takes cucina very seriously. While he is much too refined a man to use superlatives in polite conversation, it is safe to say, he was favorably impressed. Chef/Owner Mathieu Palombino is the man behind the notorious pizza. Sam Shifton used (the superlative) in his New York Times review, but gave Motorino only one star.   I know how hard this is, for anyone, let alone an artist, but ratings aren't real. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case the pie. Last Sunday night Patti & I finally made it to the original Motorino in Brooklyn.

The Meal

Watermelon radish with sweet onion, plum tomatos and basil in vinaigrette.

   Simple and fantastic, it was a seasonal special. I confess this is the first time we have tasted a watermelon radish; it won't be the last. Matthew's brilliance in balance is very much in evidence here.

The meatballs.

   Searching for great Italian meatballs in New York has all the intrigue of a truffle hunt. With strong competitors tucked away in many less traveled parts of town. Patti is the Bar Eater's meatball aficionado. She liked Motorino's, but holds her highest praise for others. It might be a fun to do a Bar Eater - Meatball Crawl, someday. 

The subtle, perfection of this pizza stirs profound feelings.

    I do not exaggerate. While, tomato, mozzarella di bufala and basil lend their unadulterated magic, ultimately the sorcery is in the crust. Mathieu Palombino has created something of perfection. The doing, but not over doing, of every detail. Something rarely achieved in cooking, let alone life. This quality is consistent. We have never been disappointed and feel safe in saying so.

Photo by Alexandra

Patti & I after dinner, dropping the "superlative bomb."

The Room

   The Williamsburg space is way more comfortable than the East Village location. Warm and inviting, it has a neighborhood feel. It was worth the trip to Brooklyn, (which isn't really that far), to sit at a bar in such agreeable surroundings.

 The  bar, adequate but unremarkable.  

   Motorino is a Pizzeria with a bar and we are glad they have one. But, what can I say? Bar Eaters prefer a more robust bar experience. Our bartender, Alexandra was very sweet and hard working, but too young and inexperienced to master a real bar. Motorino has a reasonable selection of wines, but you don't come here for the wine. Pick something serviceable and get on with ordering your pizza.

Motorino, Brooklyn

There is a point when something moves beyond really, really good, to something that feels like... best

Ok, there I said it.

Motorino on Urbanspoon


  1. and why is this the first i have heard of motorino? we must gather here on our next nyc trip and see what lupe has to say....being he was in milan for 3 years.

    you had me at the first non-superlative my friend. you are an incredible writer and i cannot wait until the day you require a west coast crew.

  2. Brilliant blogging - step aside Sam Sifton!