Kenzie and I have a fantastic tradition for our birthdays. We take the other out to dinner. We also have another tradition of sorts. We love visiting new pizza places (new = at least one of us has not been there before). For my birthday dinner, Kenzie took me to Motorino in the East Village. We started with a bottle of, as described on the menu, “the perfect pizza wine,” the Grangnano, Cantine Federiciane, Naples, Italy. Served cold, this semi-sparkling, light bottle of plum red was, in fact, the perfect companion to our meal.
We skipped the appetizers and got right to the good stuff. We ordered the Cremini & Sweet Sausage Pizza, minus the sausage, as well as the Margherita with an addition of Brussels sprouts and olives. I am not usually a big fan of a white pizza because it tends to lack a bit of flavor and can sometimes be a tad dry. The cremini mushroom pie with fior de latte, garlic, thyme, pecorino, and gaeta olives proved me wrong. The interplay between the ingredients made for earthy and fragrant bites. The thyme really pulled out the sweetness of the garlic and the sharpness from the pecorino.
The Margherita was a traditional Neapolitan with a twist due to the interesting toppings. The crispy Brussels sprout leaves along with the olives added texture and depth to a classic pie. Most importantly, the crust for both pies was consistently chewy and airy, making you feel full at the end of the meal without feeling a sense of heaviness at the pit of your stomach.
After our pizzas, we continued our never-ending conversation with a leisurely walk to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. It is a fairly new addition to the East Village and partly due to the warm weather, there always seems to be a line. Kenzie, a frequent visitor and thus a pro at ordering, suggested one of her favorites on the menu: the Monday Sundae. I had no idea what I was in for. This is the ultimate for an ice-cream/chocolate/dessert lover. It all starts with a waffle cone which is lined with nutella, then filled with chocolate/vanilla twist soft serve ice cream and topped with whipped cream, a generous dulche de leche drizzle, and a sprinkle of sea salt. W-O-W, beyond wow. That about sums it up. This is a must try. Also, a note to the wise: Eat this on a slightly empty stomach because it is impossible to finish after a meal.
Recap: small, casual pizza place; good food and service; great wine; good for small groups or a meal for two; vegetarian friendly
Food tally: The Perfect Pizza Wine, $32 (bottle); Cremini & Sweet Sausage Pizza, $17; Margherita+toppings, $15+$6. Total w/o tip = $70. Monday Sundae, $6.50, worth every penny
Score: 4/5 for Motorino; 5/5 for the Monday Sunday at Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Address: Motorino – 349 East 12th Street, between 1st and 2nd Ave.; Big Gay Ice Cream Shop – 125 East 7th Street, between 1st Ave. and Avenue A, NYC; www.motorinopizza.com; www.biggayicecream.com