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Krescendo

1/5
Photograph: Dominic Perri

Finocchio Flower Power pizza at Krescendo

2/5
Photograph: Dominic Perri

Pasta con le sardeat Krescendo

3/5
Photograph: Dominic Perri

Cassata at Krescendo

4/5
Photograph: Dominic Perri
Krescendo
5/5
Photograph: Dominic Perri
Krescendo
Boerum Hill

Being a celebrity chef, for better or worse, means great expectations for every project you do, whether you’re David Chang dipping into highbrow food publishing or Guy Fieri fronting a Times Square junk box. Punky blond dessert whiz Elizabeth Falkner saw her celeb stock rocket on The Next Iron Chef, where she twice came close to winning. And though she held her own in savory main-course showdowns under kitchen stadium’s bright lights, it’s a surprise that she didn’t capitalize on her madcap sweets reputation for her big New York debut. Instead of importing eccentric treats from her (now shuttered) San Francisco bakery Citizen Cake—the flaming “s’more-a-palooza,” say, or “tiramishushi”—she’s opened a pretty generic Brooklyn pizzeria.

Given the city’s pizza glut, Krescendo might have opened as quietly as an Off Broadway clunker, if not for the big West Coast star in the kitchen. Though her blistered Neapolitan-style rounds feature excellent crispy crust, her pizzas are rarely on par with New York’s best—standard-bearers like Motorino and Kesté. The Margherita “Extra,” finished with mealy cherry tomatoes, is a bit too soggy with tomato puree. The Californication, a busy white pie, features an overabundance of Golden State flavors—bitter arugula pesto, spicy shishito peppers, goat cheese and honey. And while the Finocchio Flower Power, topped in a rich gutsy mix of heavy cream, crumbled sausage, sharp provolone and braised fennel, earned Falkner a first place trophy in Naples’ Caputo Cup last spring, one winning pie is hardly the makings of a new pizza star nor compensation for a restaurant with many shortcomings.

Krescendo’s unadorned Brooklyn dining room looks like a run-of-the-mill neighborhood tavern with exposed brick and dark bistro tables. Service is genial but not very attentive—you might wait 40 minutes for starters while the chef hobnobs out of the kitchen with guests.

Those appetizers, by the way, are a pretty sad bunch. There are gray meatballs, dense as a cat’s chew toy, in a tart phosphorescent tomato sauce. An underdressed kale salad tastes healthy in the worst way, despite the hunks of candied pancetta hidden among its thick woody leaves. Flaky poached cod anchors another bland dish, with low-sodium white beans, black olives and celery. Only the fregola a la sarde—one of a handful of pastas—has much punch, the saffron-tinged Sardinian couscous tossed with a symphonic mix of potent sardines and anchovies, capers and currants.

Desserts, even the understated selection of chilled and frozen sweets, showcase, clearly, where Falkner’s real talents lie. A deconstructed cassata, rich with tangy ricotta cream, pistachio sponge cake and Campari-soaked cherries, is complex and delicious. And a free-form tartufo, with cold gianduja semifreddo, dripping caramel sauce and perfumey tangerine dust, proved gorgeously gooey. These reformulated Italian classics are as spirited as everything here ought to be. While a move from pastry to pizza isn’t a radical shift, certainly, for such a versatile chef, there’s much more to running a great New York pizzeria these days than simply nailing the dough.

Vitals

Eat this: Finocchio Flower Power pizza, fregola a la sarde, cassata, tartufo

Drink this: The top-notch cocktails by Darren Crawford, formerly of San Francisco’s Bourbon & Branch, include the Meli Amara, a sort of spiced apple Manhattan with Applejack and Barolo Chinato ($12). The can centric beer list includes the full range of Sixpoint tallboys ($6 apiece).

Conversation piece: Falkner learned to make pizza last year at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco. That restaurant’s Brooklyn-born manager (and part owner), Nancy Puglisi, is a Krescendo co-owner too.

By Jay Cheshes

Venue name: Krescendo
Address: 364 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn
11217
Cross street: between Bond and Hoyt Sts
Venue phone: 718-330-0888
Website: http://krescendobrooklyn.com
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 5:30-10:30pm, Sun noon-10pm
Transport: Subway: A, C, G to Hoyt–Schermerhorn
Price: Average pizza pie: $15. AmEx, Disc, MC, V

Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|6
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Phil

Krescendo is the restaurant with the RED facade... not the RED ROOF!!!!

Ina

I don't think that Jay ate here. He doesn't have the common courtesy to learn how to spell the items on the menu. Maybe he just looked at the website and decided to write a review. Shame on you for being so spiteful and, I agree with Andy - very mean spirited. I have, on the other hand eaten here on several occasions and the food does not disappoint.

Patricia

Mr Cheshes had made me more of a cynic when it comes to reviews... The food at Krescendo is on par with any upscal Manhattan eatery. There is an embarrassment of choices when you are handed the menu. We decided to sit at the bar because the place was packed (and honestly I was starving). This is a place where you order your food, then look to see what the person next to you is eating and think "I should have gotten that", your first bite into the food (that I ordered) is to die for (and I hate coining phrases that are so overdone!) We ordered the meatballs and I have to say that THERE IS someone who makes meatballs better that grandma... then we had the pasta and bolognese - you could tell that the pasta is fresh. I asked for some bread to scoop up the last bit of bolognese and an perfect little ball of happiness covered in olive oil and sea salt is brought to me. I was too full to have dessert, but you only live once, so we got the tartufo. Jay Cheshes - do yourself a favor and stop reviewing food. You are an embarrassment to real critics.

maria

I have been to Krescendo several times, only to try everything on the menu. I think that you have to go into a restaurant with an open mind. Each pie has a uniquw flavor and if you are accoustomed to a regualr Margherita )which you can get here) Then your best bet is to go to any ole pizza joint... but if you are looking for complexity in food and flavor combinations that you would not think of combining yourself then you must go here. I reluctantly tried the Clam Pie, and quickly decided that the Flower Power is now my second favorite. I am not sure what this reviewer what expecting - but on any given night this place is packed. My boss is looking to have a private party here... hoping that they will close the place for us. Make your own decision - and taste the food for yourself. You will not be disappointed

Steven

I'm not sure where this guy ate. We had dinner at Krescendo last night and every bite was amazing. We started with the burrata and crustini appetizer, which had both steller flavors and great texture. We also has one of the pasta dishes and the meatball pizza. Both were perfect. I've never heard of this guy Jay Cheshes before, but I don't think I'll take my lead from him on where to eat.