It’s debatable as to what’s more debatable in New York: the Presidential election or the neighborhood’s best slice of pizza. Maybe blood hasn’t been spilled, but a lot of tomato sauce has been thrown over this passionate subject.
Last week, we asked our readers to take part in a vote for the slice they believe should represent our neighborhood to go up against Fort Greene in a good ol’ fashioned pizza throwdown. The vote flip-flopped throughout the week, but we now have a winner. Table 87 (473 3rd Avenue at 10th Street) garnered 28% of the almost 1,600 votes which were cast. So congrats to them!
The slice-eaters have spoken.
Table 87 opened its first shop at 87 Atlantic Avenue (near Hicks Street) in Brooklyn Heights about four years ago. Owner Tommy Cucco opened a second spot at 473 3rd Avenue (at 10th Street) in Gowanus about two years later. And since they won our reader’s vote, they certainly merit our attention. So the least we could do is eat, right?
Cucco has previously owned several restaurants throughout Brooklyn, including Bensonhurst’s Casa Calamari. But we wanted to turn his interests towards our treasured food.
“I really admire the coal oven style of pizza,” Cucco told us. “But one thing I noticed is that you couldn’t order a slice of it. You always had to buy the whole pie.”
While there’s a sizable dining rooming at Table 87, you don’t need to sit down to enjoy your pizza. The front area allows you to order slices and/or sit at a bar. And at this time of year, the restaurant boasts outdoor tables on the 10th Street side of the corner.
When we stopped by for lunch on Sunday afternoon, the crowd represented a lot of different Brooklyns. The Park Slope family was sitting in the corner, the two friendly guys talking with us about The Warriors movie came up from Bensonhurst, and an older couple sat behind us.
While Table 87’s menu includes sandwiches, paninis, salads, and calzones, the whole place was ordering pizza.
We ordered a 20″ Coal Oven Margherita Pizza ($25) to sample, which comes topped with fresh basil. They also provide fresh red peppers and roasted garlic for you to slather on if you’d like. But we just wanted to taste your basic Table 87 slice.
How in the world does one judge pizza? While there’s no written-in-stone way to do so, the basic tenets for me include crust, cheese, sauce, and overall impression. Sometimes I like to add “crust-to-cheese ratio” and “sauce-to-cheese ratio.” Ok, perhaps there is a little science involved in all of this.
Table 87 knows what they’re doing. I’m a big fan of their crunchy crust — it sticks together so the slice doesn’t crumble in your hands. There was an equal cheese-to-sauce ratio, which happens to be my thing. And this was a greasy-free slice — the cheese did no slipping or sliding.
Now here’s another important measurement: how does pizza hold up cold? We took home four slices of the 20″ pie which we couldn’t finish at the restaurant. Well, let’s just say it didn’t last long in the fridge. 10 hours later, the cheese hadn’t given in to coagulation, and the sauce remained robust.
So what’s next for Table 87? Cucco tells us that in addition to the Coney Island and Industry City pop-ups that have opened this summer, they’ll be opening a store at Industry City later this year.
Cucco has also brought his slice business into the frozen pizza market. After appearing on the show Shark Tank, he scored an investment by QVC’s founder Lori Grenier. The flash-freezed slices are carried at Whole Foods, Fresh Direct, and many other places.
With all of the entrepreneurial discussion, the Brooklyn customer may ask if the quality of their restaurant has been compromised with all that pizzazz.
No, it hasn’t. The experience being at Table 87 is friendly, comfortable, and tasty. We’re glad they’re representing us against Fort Greene.
Later this week, Table 87 goes up against Speedy Romeo in a blind taste test. And next week, we’ll let you know who won.
The Dining Rundown: Table 87 (Gowanus)
Where: 473 3rd Avenue at 10th Street
Hours: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11:30pm-10pm; Fridays-Saturdays, 11:30pm-12am; Sundays,11:30pm-10pm. Closed Mondays.
Kid Friendly? Yes. Kids are a common siting, and they have high chairs. And lots of kids like pizza.