So after all the geschwaetz on this board about Roberta's and Paulie Gees, and having a daughter in Brooklyn, I have been trying to get in to try both places.
Hit Paulie Gees this past fall with some guests and finally made it to Roberta's on Sunday. What follows is my mini review/comparison.
We arrived at Roberta's at 3 o'clock on a Sunday, which in and of itself was problematic for them. Apparently they have all different kinds of menus, brunch, lunch dinner and what not and get confused about what to serve you, more on this later. Anyway they said 30-40 minutes and we were welcome to get a drink at one of the two bars. Turned out one of the bars was out in the garden under a tent after walking through what looked like a construction site. Very loud hip hop music everywhere making conversation almost impossible. The crowd was tight lipped and surly. We grabbed a beer and went back to hang out at the indoor bar.
Got seated about 20 minutes later with a really snarky waitress named Cassandra. Did not give us the specials, told us we had to order in a hurry as brunch menu was ending soon. Told her we didn't want lunch. Tried to order a sausage plate antipasto. After some confusion on her part we were informed that the "salumeri" plate was not available until after 5pm (this is listed on the menu as the "meat" plate). When we were pressed a little we were informed that this needed to be prepped. I mean how hard is it to slice a salami???? So we just ended up with a brussel sprouts salad and a couple of pizzas, the famed Speckenwolf and the Bee Sting. After we were served we noticed the people next to us enjoying a large plate of really good looking brisket. They indicated it was an off menu special, and the only way they knew about it was they saw someone else having it. Another big thumbs down for the server.
By contrast at Paulie Gees the vibe was really friendly. We went there with a couple of friends from Sweden and had a great time. Got there right at 5pm on a Sunday when they opened. Service was excellent, music was lower, and it seemed like there were a lot more family groups there. Vibe was still a little funky, but not as sterile. We were also able to order at will and did not feel hurried. Again we had a salad with bacon and escarole and pizza choices: the Spectacle, the Arugula and the Delboy (hot honey). It didn't hurt that they had Bluepoint Toasted lager on tap, which is a personal favorite. Finally, at the end of the meal, Paulie Gee himself came up to us, introduced himself and asked how everything was.
Although you may have guessed this by now, there was also no comparison on the pizza. Roberta's famed Speckenwolf was dry and the crust was a little soggy. Could have used a shot of EVO or something. By comparison, both my daughter and I agreed, the pizzas at Paulie Gees were much better. Just the right balance of crisp and moist, great crust, and overall more flavor. The Delboy with the hot honey at Paulie Gees was amazing, and I am not a big fan of honey on pizzas. About the only thing that was better at Roberta's were the shaved brussel sprouts in a light vinagrette with a soft boiled egg. That's a salad I will try to make at home.
If the food at Roberta's had been better I would have been willing to over look the other sins. But the way I see things they have started to develop a little bit of a reputation and along with that an attitude. Too busy for their own good. Since both of these places are a little bit out of the way, I won't be returning to Roberta's anytime soon, but would return to Paulie Gees in a heartbeat.