Houdini Pizza Laboratory, on the edge of Ridgewood, is just a few blocks from Houdini’s grave. Owners Pilar Rigon and Max Bartoli emulate the passion of the famed magician with their deeply researched pizzas.
Great, Affordable Pizza
Their goal: quality food that’s affordable, the simpler the better. Walk in through the back of this 1880s brewery turned factory turned artist’s studios and you’ll feel at home immediately. The high barrel vaulted brick ceiling and poured concrete wood-burning brick oven contribute to the comfortable environment.
There’s no barrier between the kitchen and the seating, just as there will be no barrier between the bar and the floor, once the liquor license comes in. Meanwhile, start with a rocket salad—simple: Grape tomatoes, baby arugula, and apple cider tarragon vinaigrette with a touch of salt. Pilar’s favorite, and mine too, is the Habanera, homemade mozzarella, tomato sauce, habanero and spicy cured pork loin ($14). Drizzle chili oil over it and savor the sweet-spicy medley. The Houdini green is another delicious option—zucchini, eggplant, shallots, Savoy cabbage, and robiola cheese ($14). For dessert try an espresso with panna cotta and berry sauce ($7).
Italians in America – Pilar & Max
What separates Houdini from competitors is its style. Instead of the gooey Neapolitan style, or the adventurous toppings so frequently dashed together, the flavors here honor traditional Italian cuisine while the crust is crunchy and thin (Pilar almost slapped me for saying that it reminds me of New York style pizza).
Max and his chef researched for months to create a light-crust pizza that won’t make you feel like you’ve eaten a pound of bread. Every pie comes from the mother dough, or la madre, with the same low amount of yeast.
On top of deep research, Max has a personal relationship with all of his vendors, which is how he can maintain the food’s integrity and consistency. High in flavor, the result expresses the thought and joy that goes into eating well.
Patio will be a hit in the summer
Pilar and Max thank the neighborhood for their continued support over the past two years, especially as they prepare the patio to be a beer garden!
Houdini is at 1536 Decatur St., off the Halsey L, and is open Tuesday through Sunday 5-11 pm.