Brooklyn is an awfully big island. Even after all of the times I’ve been there, I still don’t have a good sense of where things are. My alter-blogger Music City Mike ventured to its Gowanus section earlier this year for some live music at the Bell House. In need of a rest stop after parking the car, I thought I hit pay dirt when I spotted a large sign painted on the side of a building that said “Table 87: Home of the Coal Oven Slice.”
Followers of this space know that despite being a New York-style slice devotee, I have found satisfaction in coal-fired pizza. While usually made in Margherita-style, if made right with good fresh ingredients, it can be a delicious treat. But, the thing about coal oven pizza joints is that I have never seen one sell it by the slice. My first reaction when seeing Table 87’s sign was “Why didn’t I think of this first!”
You can imagine my disappointment when I found that Table 87 was still under construction. So I made a note to stop back later in the year when I would be back at the Bell House. The time came, and I am excited to report that Table 87 Coal Oven Pizzeria makes a coal slice that is right up there with the best that Brooklyn has to offer.
On a beautiful late summer’s eve, there was considerable activity around Table 87 when I arrived. The few outside tables along the corner were occupied. Their front room has an elegant bistro look with a walk-up counter prominently displaying a working pie of plain cheese coal slices. While a hostess was taking names for tables in the back room, I cozied up to the counter ordering a single slice ($4.00). I got it rather quickly, and stationed myself at a comfy spot up against the front window.
On looks alone this colorful slice started racking up Snob points. It soon became love after first bite. Although reheated off the counter, it was not served especially hot, but was at a comfortable eating temperature. Their slice did seem thinner than the coal slices I’ve had extracted from whole pies. It was perhaps more akin in shape and size to its New York-style cousin.
The traditional Margherita blotchy cheese and sparse tomato sauce were covered by three bright green basil leaves that added a refreshing and flavorful touch. The crust was cooked to a slight char, but had more of a chewy feel than a crispy one. As for the coal flavor, it was tasty but perhaps not as strong as some others I have had. A nice dash of fresh olive oil topped off this light and tasty slice. It was sadly gone before I knew it–a special few minutes that I won’t forget. It was so deliciously good!
In chatting with the help, they mentioned that they knew of no other place that offered coal oven slices. I did notice that Table 87’s web site currently points only to their other location on Atlantic Avenue (also in Brooklyn). They also said that their pie would soon be also available at the Whole Foods Market down the street in Gowanus.
Four bucks for a slice may seem steep, but I recommend giving this one a try if you ever find yourself in Gowanus. Table 87 becomes the latest addition to the Pizza Snob Hall of Fame!
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***** Sets the Standard
Table 87 Coal Oven Pizzeria
473 3rd Ave. (at 10th Street)
Gowanus Brooklyn, NY 11215