The garage located behind Variety Coffee Roastery has been bulldozed, making room for Bushwick’s newest and most adorable pizzeria, Ops. It is now open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner, from 5 p.m. until midnight.
The cozy pizzeria is co-owned by locals Michael Fadem, Marie Tribouilloy, and Gavin Compton. Fadem, the connection between the other two owners, worked with Compton at Variety (also a Compton enterprise), and met Tribouilloy while working at Fort Greene’s locally sourced Italian eatery Roman’s.
Bushwick Daily sat down with Fadem to get the inside scoop, or shall we say slice, on Ops. Fadem says that the response to the new spot has been great since it opened this past weekend, despite the dreary weather.
“[Sunday night] was funny, because we were really busy until the debate started,” smiled Fadem. Ops doesn’t have a TV for screenings, but patrons certainly won’t miss it. The interior evokes a cozy cabin in the woods and is made picturesque by its wood- and gas-fired pizza oven, a scrap wood ceiling, antique lamps, tile flooring, and of course, a mouthwatering aroma of pizza wafting through the whole place.
Compton was offered the space in late 2015 by Variety’s landlord and promptly contacted Fadem, who invited Tribouilloy to join them for the new venture. “I’ve been wanting to open this place [Ops BK] for a long time, and Gavin knew that…so he called me and was like ‘I know you want to do this thing, what if we did it together—’ and I said yes!” Fadem recounts.
The building was erected just this past year. Fadem says that “the landlord built a brick box” and that him, Tribouilloy, and Compton essentially created the ambience from scratch. It’s thus impressive that Ops embodies the rustic charm its owners always envisioned.
“Marie’s idea was to paint this white wash on it [the brick wall] to make it look a little cooler, and Marie and I talked about the design for months. We wanted a tile floor, we wanted a wood ceiling, Gavin has a friend down in Alabama who gets wood from old buildings and he sends it up here.”
Ops’ elegant, classic fare will satisfy pizza aficionados and anyone in search of an ambient dining experience. It’s great addition to the restaurant scene near the DeKalb Avenue station on the L train, where some of the other offerings include Heavy Woods and Mesa Azteca.
Fadem, who worked at Roman’s for several years, is a self-educated pizzaiolo who is committed to being a distinctive presence in Bushwick’s hopping pizza scene. Roberta’s, Norbert’s, Archie’s, both of the neighborhood’s Tony’s, Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, Union Pizza Works, Pizza Party and Sal’s Pizzeria all make delicious pies. Soon, Portland pizzeria Sizzle Pie and an Artichoke Basille will join the fray as well.
The thing that sets Ops BK apart from other pizzerias in the area is its sourdough crust. This pizza base is made with a wild yeast, which requires daily feedings and a temperature-controlled environment that Fadem has worked hard to perfect.
It’s not all about the toppings, he explains: “I wanted to make pizza that has more flavor in the actual crust, because most of what pizza is, is bread, and I felt there was a lack of that in New York.”
Fermenting flour and water naturally instead of using store-bought yeast takes time and space, which are precious in the city’s restaurant industry, but the Ops team thinks it’s well worth it.
Fadem and Tribouilloy, who masterminds Op’s salad, cheese plate, antipasti, and dessert offerings, are both particularly proud of the vegetable offerings at Ops. “Because I put meat on the pizza and it’s a heavy and filling thing, it’s great to be able to really balance it with vegetables,” says Fadem, noting how hard it is to find a New York restaurant with solid veggie offerings.
Produce at Ops BK is entirely organic, and it is locally sourced from farmers’ co-ops and can be traced back to many smaller farms from Upstate New York (Finger Lakes Farms), Pennsylvania (Lancaster Farm Fresh), and New Jersey (Zone-7).
The flour is locally milled as well, at certified organic farming operations Nitty Gritty Grain Company of Vermont and Farmer Ground Flour in Upstate New York.
Everything we sampled was delicious! The tomato sauce on the margherita pizza ($16) was mild and complemented the house-made mozzarella and fresh basil, the aromatic flavor of the eggplant caponata (with olives, capers, rosemary, garlic, olive oil) paired beautifully with the sourdough bread, and the small salad ($10) packed a healthy crunch with its escarole, green beans, and beets.
The rich, earthy flavor of the marinated mushrooms on the white Iron Age pizza ($18) melded with the pie’s parmesan and housemade mozzarella in a savory match made in pizza heaven.
The beverage options at Ops are similarly excellent. Currently, all of Ops’ wines hail from Europe, but in the future, management hopes to stock wines from more local operations.
Fadem says that they are currently playing around with the cocktail menu, which features drinks in the $10-13 range, while shaking up some classics.
As for beer: for $6 a serving, customers can choose from four local, distinctive brews: a Kolsch from Kings County Brewing Company, a Sour from Greenpoint Brewery, an IPA from Vermont’s Lost Nation Brewery in Vermont, and a Saison from Chicago’s Off Color Brewery.
Since gratuity is included in prices at Ops, their pizza price points are higher than average for the area; Ops is one of many New York City restaurants to try this approach, and hopes that it will ensure that staff is well compensated.
For now, Ops is only open in the evening from Wednesday through Sunday. In the future, the week and hours will expand to include more weekdays and lunch.
Sit down, relax, and enjoy some pizza at Ops, Bushwick!
A rustic and cozy wood-fired pizzeria serving sour dough crust pizza.
346 Himrod Street, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Wed-Sun: 5 p.m. until midnight. Extended hours coming soon!