Today I took a trip out to Bensonhurt, Brooklyn to finally experience Spumoni Gardens, where many claim the best Sicilian slice is served. Ludovico Barbati (L&B) started Spumoni in 1939, purportedly out of a horse drawn carriage like the one seen on their logo.
Without a doubt, Spumoni Gardens has one of the more unusual dining and ordering layouts I've experienced in New York. There's a sit-down restaurant line, take out ordering line, Italian ice order line, and pizza line. After standing in the wrong line (twice), I was really feeling like an out-of-towner amidst locals shouting shorthand orders (now I know how it feels to be a tourist at Pat's in Philly).
Holy hell, that's 30 uncooked pizzas. This gives you a feeling for how fast they go. L&B is a big family eatery, many people ordering full pies to go. They offer "round or square" (plain or Sicilian) but the slice, half sheet, or full pie with the option of a few toppings. I ordered slice of each.
First off, neither of my slices were reheated and were tepid at best. Is it really so much to ask for you to reheat a room temp slice in one of your 20 ovens? Slightly insulting as far as pizza service goes.
The plain slice: meh. Maybe the temp affected my judgement, but it just semeed soggy and dull. It looks great though, right?
The cornicione was decent; a nice combo of chewy and crispy. However, the sauce, cheese and undercrust were uninspiring. No big deal, Spumoni Gardens is famous for their squares anyway.
Maybe not the most photogenic slice, but pretty tasty. Comprised of a slightly sweet sauce, a thin layer of cheese, and an almost fried-like lip of crust.
Not too greasy, the slice's strongpoint is the bottom-most layer of crust.
It starts as crispy on the bottom, then starts to blend into a firm but chewy layer before transitioning into the more fluffy, bready crust one comes to think of in a Sicilian slice.
Overall, and I'll probably catch some hell for this, L&B Spumoni Gardens was tasty, but a little overrated in my book. I'm willing to bet there is some variation in quality and taste between individual slices and ordering a pie to go fresh out of the oven, but that's no excuse for inconsistency. Currently, my favorite square is at Artichoke, but I've yet to try the highly regarded Di Fara or Veloce.
On my way out I ordered a second square, this time requesting a reheat, and was met with a brief resentful glance.
Sorry, I like my slices hot. Still worth the trip.