Fort Hamilton Parkway pizza perfection.

Hi, gang!  Hope Thanksgiving passed with a minimum of stress and a maximum of gluttony – no better day to sit on the couch and avoid all activity.

One of my activities over the long weekend involved a trip of sorts down memory lane – my first return visit to Windsor Terrace/Kensington since moving out in June.  Make no mistake – there’s very little I miss about the place.  It’s altogether too much like a dense suburb – two family houses with plastic siding abound, and, rather than integrating, pockets of conservative Irish-Italian families alternate blocks with immigrant communities and the recent influx of new hipsters and families.

One of the things I DO miss was this weekend’s destination, though: Little Tonino’s Pizza, located at the corner of Greenwood Av. and E. 5th St, near the Fort Hamilton Parkway F-stop, and across the street and dividing park from the rumbling Prospect Expressway.  (Word to the wise – take the exit at the front of the train going outbound, or you’ll exit on the wrong side of the expressway.)  According to my former landlord, it’s been a neighborhood staple since her childhood, which I conservatively estimate means 40 years ago.  It was a staple for this neighborhood newcomer, too: Tonino’s was one of two decent places that would deliver to our E. 3rd St. home during my 6-month tenure there – the new Windsor Café was under construction – and I ate enough pizza during that time that I haven’t had but a slice or two since.

That’s not to say I was unhappy to OD on Tonino’s – their pizza is probably the best I’ve ever had.  The plain pie is, at $8, also the best pizza deal I’ve yet found.  Combining a dense but chewy crust with a mild, thick sauce and the finest-quality mozzarella available (seriously – the owner once told me that it costs nearly twice as much as the cheapest alternative, but that nothing else would do, quality-wise), the pizza is a delight to consume.  Depending on who makes it (and whether the standard ‘squirt of oil’ is omitted or retained), it can also be practically grease-free.

My favorite, though, is the Little Tonino’s special pie ($14), which resembles somewhat the Grandma’s pie you may have tried elsewhere.  With a ton of fresh mozzarella, garlic, basil, plum tomatoes, and the afore-mentioned crust to die for, the Tonino’s special is great pizza.  Again, I’m curious as to why the oil squirt is necessary, as I’m fairly certain that it’s only necessary to keep pies made for slice consumption moist; even drained, the pizza is delicious, particularly hot from the oven.  Both pizzas are available in ‘baby’ versions ($4 for the plain, $5 for the special), if you’re dining solo and want fresh-baked rather than slices.

I’ve had mixed success with Tonino’s other food options, which I hear is usually the case at a pizzeria of renown.  I can recall having a memorable first potato and egg (omelette) hero here, in the variety that includes onions and mozzarella – a bargain at $5.50 and a gut bomb big enough to be shared.  I think the meatballs were frozen – if so, feel free to avoid.  I’ve also tried the thickly vodka-sauced pasta that occasionally graces the steam table.  I say it’s mediocre, but it’s zipped up a bit by the inclusion of lots of garlic and strips of prosciutto.  Try the same sauce in the gnocchi alla nona instead, which are probably also right from the freezer, but at least would be boiled fresh (both $9, and also big enough to share).

Brooklynites may recognize the rice balls in the front case – these softball-sized borough specialties are deep fried, but usually are served reheated and topped (“deluxe”) with cheese and red sauce.  They make an ok meal in themselves – I’m curious as to how fresh (frozen, perhaps?) they are, though, and I’d love to someday try one right out of the fryer.  The garlic knots are usually oily and gross; the zeppoles (fried dough coated in powdered sugar) are much better, though still greasy.

Yes, Little Tonino’s is far out of the way of most pizza fans, but it’s worth a special trip, and I’ll even give you a suggestion for an itinerary: when it’s nice out, take a pie to go and head across the pedestrian bridge to Prospect Park – it’s about four blocks from the other side of the freeway.  Pizza in the park = pure bliss.

1 Comment

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One response to “Fort Hamilton Parkway pizza perfection.

  1. kwon

    Oh Man! I just moved to Kensington because I needed some space for my budget. Any other good food in the area?

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