You know how Olive Garden had that saying, “When you’re here, you’re family?” Well, it could work just as well as Claudine’s slogan.
To be frank, my friend and I were actually try to eat at Lucali’s the evening we dined here. It was a Friday night, so I should’ve expected how long the wait was going to be there (I think it was like 1 to 2 hours??). We were starving so we decided to pass on the wait and just start walking around the neighborhood to find something else.
We happened upon Claudine’s, which fit what we were craving after our failed attempt at Lucali’s–Italian/pizza. The restaurant is casual and we were greeted very warmly by the waitress. In no time at all we were served a little basket of crusty bread slices with some chili oil for dipping…or in my case sopping because dang, it was delectable. Chili oil is already a step up from regular olive oil in my book when I’m served bread at a restaurant, but there was something about Claudine’s concoction that made it even more above average. I could tell this was going to be a good meal.
My friend and I were having an unreasonable amount of difficulty deciding what to order. Share one pizza and an appetizer? One pizza and two appetizers? Two pizzas? Two pizzas and an appetizer? So many options! Our waitress was very patient with us and tried to help as much as possible by describing the different sizes of things, which dishes were more filling, and which were her favorites. Sometime when you ask a waiter what they recommend they can be hesitant or uninterested, but I felt like ours really wanted to make sure we had the best meal possible and she didn’t act like we were wasting her time.
We decided on the insalata de mare salad (or seafood salad) to start and then the Cesare pizza (fontina cheese, arugula, speck, parmesan cheese, and truffle oil) and Rustica pizza (sundried tomatoes, artichokes, gorgonzola cheese, and chicken). This was my first time having seafood salad, and I have to say that I’m a big fan. It’s a cold dish of calamari, shrimp, octopus, and celery with a dressing of olive oil and lemon. Delicious and light, it was a great precursor to the pizzas on the way.
As always, I can never decide between if I want a white pizza or a pizza with tomato sauce, so lucky me in that my friend also wanted both. I had a slice of one then a slice of another and went back and forth until everything was finito. Maybe the Cesare inched out the Rustica just a tad for me? My friend thought the opposite. Either way, they were both quite tasty and filling. Without getting into pizza specifics and intricacies, this just shouted “family-made” pizza–totally unfussy and just right.
Now that I’ve eaten at Claudine’s, I think it should be seen as destination itself, not just one when you can’t get into Lucali’s. The environment is relaxed and friendly and the food is homey in the best way possible. So, come and feel like family at Claudine’s.
Insalata di mare salad, cesare pizza, rustica pizza
311 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11231