Lucali owner Mark Iacano is credited with opening one of the best pizzerias in Brooklyn, even if his wood-fired pies are some of the toughest to get ahold of. The no-reservation restaurant starts accepting names for dinner at 5 p.m., but by 4:45 p.m. most days there’s already a block-long queue down Henry Street. Once inside, a series of exacting cash-only, timed-seating, bring-your-own-wine-but-only-one-bottle policies await.
Why do New Yorkers continue to subject themselves to this? Because those who have endured the lines know that a meal at Lucali is almost always worth the wait.
Fifteen years after opening his Carroll Gardens pizzeria, Iacano has followed up with Baby Luc’s, located at 387 Court Street, on the corner of First Place, a casual slice shop in the same neighborhood, where he’s still drawing block-long lines but with fewer rules. Over the last two weeks, the restaurant has been opening its doors at 5 p.m., and most days is only able to stay open for two hours before selling out. Like at Lucali two blocks over, “there’s already a line down the block” by the time the restaurant starts serving pizza, he says.
Iacano is kicking things off with four pizzas to start: Plain, pepperoni, sausage and pepper, and ricotta with broccoli rabe, which notably, are all square ($3.50 to $4 each). “This is going to be more like a traditional New York square slice,” he says. The pies are meant to crisp up in a gas oven, drawing inspiration from the Sicilian pizzas made by acclaimed baker Adam Leonti.
The pizzeria is going for a classic, slice shop feel with tile floors and a few high-top tables for eating while standing. At one end of the dining room, a signed issue of Sports Illustrated from 1974 features Julius Erving mid-dunk. Yet, at the same time that the slice shop honors the past, Iacano is letting go of some policies that have come to define dining at Lucali for the last decade.
Baby Luc’s accepts credit card payments, and Iacano was able to nail down a liquor license — something that’s long-eluded him at Lucali — ahead of the opening. A short drinks list includes pre-batched negroni cocktails, made with either mezcal or gin, and draft beer from Carroll Gardens brewery Other Half. A wine list is on the way.
Baby’s Luc’s seemed to arrive out of nowhere earlier this month, perhaps for everyone but Iacano, who says the plans have been more than a decade in the making. “I always wanted to have a slice shop,” he says. Lucali was originally intended to be a casual slice shop, but those plans were ultimately derailed because the space couldn’t accommodate a gas oven.
He opened Baby Luc’s in partnership with chef Aminu Tedla and restaurateur Cobi Levy, who is also behind Manhattan restaurants Lola Taverna and Little Prince in Manhattan. As the team settles in over the next month, they plan to expand the restaurant’s menu and hours. The slice shop will soon be open from roughly 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and later on weekends, according to Iacano. In addition to square slices, dishes like chicken parm sandwiches, meatball heroes, and baseball-sized arincini will eventually join the menu.
Until then, the best way to get a taste of Iacano’s latest is by taking a card out of Lucali’s book and lining up early. The slice shop is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 5 p.m. until it sells out.