A new pizza spot has opened on the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Fulton Street, Roll and Go Pizza. And already, in Bed-Stuy, it seems to have become a destination of choice.
On an early Friday afternoon, inside of its brightly lit windows gathered a large crowd of people of all ages and backgrounds-- some in suits, others who were quite possibly homeless and hordes of high-schoolers all trying to push their way to the register and place their orders.
The big deal? Pizza for $1. The last time I bought pizza for $1 in Brooklyn was when the Notorious B.I.G. still lived on St. James Place. It also does not hurt that Roll and Go’s entrance is at the mouth of the Nostrand Avenue subway exit, blessing the restaurant with waves of new customers every two minutes.
Plus, pizza’s not the only cheap thing on the menu. Roll and Go also serves beef and turkey hot dogs for $1.50 or two hot dogs and a soda for $2.99, a full breakfast (2 eggs any style, home fries, toast and coffee) for $2.99 or three pancakes for $2.
Roll and Go is the first of its kind in Brooklyn (there are two more stores like it in Manhattan), and it opened in early December, said Henry Padilla, Roll and Go’s co-owner.
“Business has been good; it’s alright, I guess,” he said with a shrug and then turned abruptly back around to finish rolling the dough for his next pizza pie.
“It’s good,” said Abu Sufian, 17. “The service is good. My favorite is the pepperoni pizza and the lemonade.”
One customer named Mattias who ordered a regular $1 slice, said the pizza was “just okay.”
“In my home it’s much better,” he said. “But I’m from Italy, and it’s better there. I just come here sometimes if I’m hungry.”
“It’s alright; it could be better,” said Ryan, 30. “I come here because I can get two slices for a $2. I go up the block, and I can only get one pizza for that price. It’s all about the price. It’s definitely economics.”
Then, at the register, a fight between two customers broke out. Apparently, someone pushed someone else, unsavory words were exchanged, mothers pulled their children away.
I was going to order pizza, but decided the fight was my cue to leave.
So I crossed the street and walked northward to 528 Nostrand, a few paces to Bona II, and there it was: a sign outside that read, “2 slices of pizza and a soda for $4.50.” At Roll and Go, two slices and a soda was $2.75.
How did Bona II’s owners feel about their new-fangled neighbors, a pizza spot twice its own size with specials at almost half the price?
“What pizza spot?” said Vinnie Moreni, Bona’s owner. “That’s not real pizza. The cheese, the sauce, their crust is not like ours. There’s a big difference.”
Everything about Bona II is traditional New York-- the look of the store, the owners and the pizza. In fact, according to Moreni, the store has been in the neighborhood since 1968, and they pride themselves with knowing their customers by name.
“That place hasn’t affected our business at all,” said Moreni. “In fact, business has gotten better!”
I ordered a specialty slice with beef pepperoni (yes, they have beef pepperoni!), a slice of Sicilian pizza and an order of mozzarella cheese sticks. All of that came to… $11! Although they cut me a deal and charged me only $10, that same order would cost $6.50 at Roll and Go.
Hmmm, was this the smartest fiscal move? Then I took a bite of the slice with beef pepperoni and abandoned any doubts. Bona II's pizza was warm, delicious and tasty, definitely worth the price.
Still, I hadn’t yet tried Roll and Go, and you definitely can’t knock $1 pizza when you’re broke and hungry!
“Hey Miss, by the way, what’s your name?” Moreni asked me. I told him. “Come back again, okay?”
Good pizza. No crowds? No fights? I think I will go back-- broke or not. Because sometimes, you get what you pay for.