Opened in 1906, Monte's is Brooklyn's oldest Italian restaurant, and when you try a slice of their Neopolitan-style pizza cooked in their wood-burning oven, you'll understand why.
I had heard that Monte's had some great pizza. What I did not hear, and what I was woefully unprepared for, was the sheer size of it. When I say I have never seen a larger pie, I mean no one has ever seen a larger pie. The pizzas offered on the menu come in two sizes, 12" and "Metro." When I first see the prices of the 12" pies ranging from $13-$19, I assume this is a pizza fit for one person, and when, understandably, the prices for this ambiguous Metro size range from $22-$29, I assume perhaps 2 people could share this pizza nicely.
Have you heard what Oscar Wilde said about assumption? The devlishly clever writer was right, that "when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me."
These pizzas are gargantuan. A Metro can easily feed 3 men and 4-5 women with average appetites, and for someone who prides herself on her appetite, I'm embarrassed to admit that after an elegant appetizer of gloriously fresh Burrata and Proscuitto with arugula and a drizzle of olive oil, I was only able to finish two slices of the Truffle pizza. But with a puffy, crispy, ever so slightly chewy crust, topped with mozzarella, egg, pancetta, and the lightest addition of earthy, white truffle oil, it was heaven.
Also approaching this perfect pizza state were the Proscuitto and Arugula pizza with mozzarella and shaved parmesan for a creamy and nutty finish, and the Salsiccia pizza with tomato, mozzarella, red onion, and lightly spiced, exceptionally hearty sausage.
Unfortunately where the pizza excels, the pasta falters. The Bucatini Amatriciana with shallots, guanciale, and pecorino suffered from too little salt and too much heavy tomato sauce that didn't seem to innvoate to the same degree Monte's pizzas did. The housemade spinach Gnocchi with a walnut-gorgonzola cheese and tomato sauce was also dreadfully dense, and lacked enough texture to make it bearable for more than a few bites.
Monte's is truly about being blown away by the scale and authenticity of its pizzas provided by a friendly, yet no-nonsense staff in a classic, neighborhood space. Even though it wasn't what I expected (including the surprise that they only accept cash and American Express cards), Monte's turned out to be exactly what I wanted from a local, warm, extraordinarily filling dinner in Brooklyn.
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