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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Italian Brooklyn Cheap Eats Great

There are certain career transitions that make perfect sense. A lawyer may become a judge, an athlete may transition to become a sports commentator, an actor may end up a star on a rehab reality show, a successful chef may become a Food Network star, a judge of a reality series, a brand ambassador, or all of the above. But the case of chef Mathieu Palombino, a native of Belgium (from an Italian neighborhood in Mouscron) who has spent most of his culinary years cooking high-end French food under Chef Laurent Tourondel at Cello and then BLT Fish, is a curious one. Rather than continue down the path as expected, to perhaps open a namesake French restaurant, or some sort of jewel box in Manhattan, he chose to decamp to Williamsburg and open, well, a neighborhood pizza place. Come again? Yes, a pizza place. In Williamsburg. And it’s not even off the Bedford Avenue stop. It’s on Graham and Devoe, a sleepy corner that’s far removed from the hustle and flow of the most popular L train stop.

But to Palombino, it all makes perfect sense. He lives nearby with his wife and 15 month old son, and he’s got a serious passion for pizza, one sparked at a young age by a Southern Italian father who took his young boy on pizza-eating pilgrimages to Italy. That early Italian inspiration, coupled with a wife who craved pizza and ate it three times a day when she was pregnant, lead him to return to the pies of his youth.

In preparation for the opening, Palmobino moved to Italy to learn the art of authentic Neapolitan pizzeria, and study with local pizza makers to learn the centuries-old craft. He returned to Brooklyn, found a corner store with a glass façade, and original pressed tin ceilings and installed a Renato wood-burning oven, an L-shaped bar, and began to let the dough rise inside his very own pizza shop, a sweet place he called Motorino, after the Italian scooter.

He opened the doors with a simple menu of charcuteries and cheeses, fresh salads, antipasti (many of which are roasted in the wood-oven like artichokes, squash with sage, and Brussels sprouts) and, of course, hand-tossed pizzas. From day one, the pizza police (Ed Levine, Adam Kuban) have been showering him with praise previously reserved for the likes of DeFarra and Lucali. I hopped the G train, and was on my way.

My first visit with my friend Court, a pizza lover who favors Una Pizza Napoletana, was on a cold Sunday evening. ... [more, click below]

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