Pizzanalysis: Nonno’s

There is no such thing is “the best” pizza in Bay Ridge—this is Brooklyn, for chrissakes. Our worst pizza is five-star dining in most of the world. We here at Hey Ridge seek not to judge but fully appreciate each and every slice Bay Ridge has to offer. We hope our analysis leads you to the pizza of your dreams.

Slice: Nonno’s Classic

Walking into Nonno’s Pizza (8816 Third Avenue), I’m greeted by a pizzaman with a huge grin. “You’re in luck!” he says. “This just came out of the oven!” As someone who has, over the course of my lifetime, eaten enough pizza to sustain a baby elephant for a solid 18 months, I take most pizza-hyperbole with a grain of garlic salt. But this guy was right. I was lucky. Whereas most classic NYC slices get their characteristic flavor, and improve, from a period of cooling before reheating (I’m looking at you, Pizza Wagon), a fresh Nonno’s slice was a revelation. Based on this information, I have reason to believe they make an excellent delivery pie.

(note: yes, there is a huge difference between delivery pizza and grabbing a slice. I have outlined the differences in my 476-page Pizza Manifesto. As I’ve yet to receive any interest from publishers, a unified pizza theory will be discussed here on Hey Ridge for the next few years.)

Cooking Style:
Well done. For real, look at the caramelization on that cheese! This is the stuff pizza dreams are made of. If I order a pie from here and it comes with some of that burnt cheese stuck to the box, I am going to marry the guy who made it.

Grease Level: medium-low. A blot test required two napkins to remove excess oil from the slice, which was the lowest of all the pizzas that were tested that day. (Yes, this pizzanalysis stuff is hard work.)

Sauce: This is where Nonno’s shines. Traditionally, a New York slice keeps it simple on the sauce front, using either a canned, premade pizza sauce that has a large amount of moisture removed (this prevents the crust from becoming soggy), or a simple layer of high quality tomatoes that have been ground on a food mill. Or they use low quality tomatoes. That’s how sad pizza happens.

Nonno’s sauce tastes like an anomaly in the pizza landscape, and it’s not only refreshing—it’s amazing. The sauce has the basic flavors of a well-seasoned marinara, rich with sweet garlic. As I mentioned, pizza sauce needs to be denser than your average tomato sauce. The result in Nonno’s case is a deeply complex caramelized tomato flavor, which makes the pizza taste a hell of a lot fancier than something you bought for $2.50 to eat at the bus stop. This sort of attention to detail is in no way necessary to make an incredible slice. But the fact Nonno’s takes the extra steps to make a superior sauce is worthy of ebullient praise.

Crust: Nonno’s makes a semisoft crust, with almost no chew or crispness. The outside crust is smaller than most, which is excellent if you’re the type you likes more sauce and less bread.  The bottom crust was thin, yet held up well, with minimal droop, when lifted.

Overall: Nonno’s slice is a slice of balances. While the crust, sauce and cheese were all remarkable on their own, together they melded in a way that not one part stood out more than the others. More proof that teamwork pays off!

Good For: People who like:

  • Softer crusts that are not tough, chewy or crispy
  • Strong garlic flavor
  • Well-cooked, caramelized (and in spots, nearly burnt) cheese
  • Pizza that doesn’t require extra seasoning

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