I’m lucky to work in an office that frequently has free food. When a team or department–no matter which one–has a big meeting, there are almost always cookies or sandwiches left over. Even better than that, because my office is on the small side, there are times when enough food is ordered for everyone in the office, so a four person meeting can lead to everyone getting free lunch for the day. Don’t even get me started when there’s an office-wide meeting. It has gotten to the point that I now make sure I always have tupperware containers at my cubicle just in case the opportunity arises. We recently implemented a Bagel Breakfast once a month, and after the first go of it, there was an astounding amount of surplus bagels, cream cheese, and fruit. You know what they did the next time around? No, they didn’t order less. They made sure to get to-go containers from the bagel place along with the order so everyone could take some home. Free food makes everything better.
Aside from when it’s catered, food will randomly show up. Sometimes there are cookies someone made the day before, sometimes it’s a cake leftover from a birthday celebration, and sometimes it’s leftovers from a work lunch. I know that sounds a little weird. I don’t mean that someone leaves their half-eaten burger and fries. It’s that a team will have a working lunch and order pizza and then if there is any left, they’ll leave it out for anyone to have. Free pizza REALLY makes everything better.
I, of course, also jump at the chance at a free slice, so count me in to hop to at the sight of a pizza box. Because of this, I began to notice that the pizza was always coming from the same place–Motorino. After eating bites of it here and there at work and noticing that it was nicer than the average delivery pizza, I decided that I should probably actually step foot into the restaurant one day and have a full meal, rather than just experience it through the occasional scraps. I mean what I had was always delicious, so what would it be like fresh? And with a little bit of ambience? To Motorino!
Motorino has three locations in New York, one in Hong Kong, one in the Philippines, and one in Singapore.I went to the East Village location, which was quite cozy. In 2008, the restaurant won a Time Out New York Eat Our Award for “Best Artisan Pie.” In 2009, Mario Batali judged it as the number 1 pizza joint in New York in a Grub Street article. In a 2010 New York Times article, Sam Sifton called it the best pizza (“for the moment, anyway”).
Motorino is one of those places where each person usually orders a pizza all to his or herself. One pie will fill you up, if not leave you stuffed, and they all cost around $15 to $20. After reading rave reviews on Yelp, I went with the popular brussels sprouts pizza, while my friend ordered the Prosciutto di Parma one. Mine came with slightly charred pieces of brussels sprouts, a type of mozzarella called fior di latte, garlic, pecorino, smoked pancetta, and olive oil. For a lot of people, what separates a pizza they like from one they don’t is how the crust is treated. Here it’s on the chewy side with bits of char.
For the most part, I’m completely satisfied with my choice at a restaurant. Then there are those rare times when the waiter distributes all the food and you see what someone else is having and you’re immediately like, “Dangit!” That happened to me here. At least I know deep in my heart that I would’ve ordered what my friend was having if it wasn’t for everything I read about the Brussels sprouts one. Don’t get me wrong, both were yummy, but if I had to pick between sprouts and prosciutto…come on. At least I got pancetta…and a slice of her pizza.
For specials, Motorino offers a prix fixe lunch, Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 4 PM where you get a salad and one of four pizzas for $12. Definitely a good deal! They also offer a special brunch pizza on the weekends for $14.
Let me end on a tale of free office food gone wrong. After spotting a box of Motorino pizza, I took a peek and saw that there was one slice left. Normally this is fantastic news, but in this case, there was a bite taken out of it so not only was my hope crushed but I was also grossed out too. Who would leave that there? To make matters weirder, the next time I walked by the pizza box, which was a couple hours later, I saw that ANOTHER bite had been taken out of the same slice. Who was this culprit taking bites as they walked about the office, too lazy to just take the whole slice in one go? Or worse, was it more than one person? I will never know!
Brussels sprout pizza, prosciutto di parma pizza
349 E 12th St
New York, NY 10003