RECOMMENDED: Complete New York pizza guide
354 Van Brunt St at Sullivan St, Red Hook, Brooklyn (718-313-0169)
There are no theatrics or authenticity worship at Anselmo’s. In fact, without this Red Hook pizzeria’s coal oven—auspiciously discovered while owner Roger Fischer was renovating the space—the pies might be generic. But after just one to two minutes inside that brick beast, loaded with white-hot briquettes and cranked, per pizzaiolo Anselmo Garcia’s specifications, to a blistering 820--900 degrees, the thin-crusted rounds are transformed into blackened beauties that could easily jump in the ring with that other coal-fired standby, Grimaldi’s.
Naturally, the crust does most of the talking here. Garcia’s dough isn’t given to bubbles, but the oven’s searing temperature yields a gorgeously charred base. Anselmo’s is a top-your-own affair, with just two departures from its corner-pizzeria cousins: buffalo mozzarella and grana padano, both available as optional add-ons. The standard mozzarella, sourced from old-school dairy Michael Aiello in Carroll Gardens, is diced, resulting in a uniform veil of cheese rather than the molten puddles preferred by artisanal joints. The rest of the unpretentious toppings—we liked hot peppers and sausage from Pastosa on Staten Island—bring a welcome everyman vibe to the table.