ADDRESS: 61 S Fair Oaks Avenue #110, Pasadena, CA 91105
The search for Italian deli sandwiches was what eventually led me and my friend Michele to stop into Brooklyn Square in Old Town Pasadena. After looking through a number of different places on Yelp, this spot was able to set itself apart with its food photos. The sandwiches looked absolutely stacked with ingredients, and it was exactly what we were looking for.
Even though it was the pictures of the deli sandwiches were what drew us in initially, the pizza ended up looking pretty solid, too. Slices were very strategically placed right next to the cash register to entice you, similar to the NY-style pizzerias that I used to go to back home. Just like the sandwiches, the menu was jam-packed with options to choose from for your food. 16 different sandwiches, 12 different pizzas, that’s not including their appetizers, salads, or calzones. But if the sandwich and pizza options weren’t calling your name, they also had the build-your-own option to go with as well.
I knew that I’d be remiss if I went to a place serving NY-style pizza and did not try any, so Michele and I decided to both get a sandwich and then split two slices of pizza. It ended up being a lot of food, and I think that our eyes were probably bigger than our stomachs, but it was definitely worth it in the end. It took us a little bit to decide on what to get, but I ended up going with the Knickerbocker Sandwich, and we split slices of the Spicy Pepperoni and Honey Deniro.
The main seating area of the restaurant was located on an elevated deck when you first walked into the place, along with some more tables near the cash register counter. In total, the dining area could probably accommodate around 40 people or so, with a mixture of 2- and 4-tops. The walking space could get a bit more narrow between the tables, but I thought they were still spaced out pretty well. Given the type of food too, you would probably not take too long eating at the tables, so the turnover would provide availability for new people coming in.
Our two slices of pizza arrived to the table first, and the aroma was already enough to make my stomach growl. The kitchen staff was attentive enough to already have both slices pre-cut for sharing purposes, so that was a nice touch. I decided to go with the Spicy Pepperoni slice first, with the spicy marinara sauce giving each bite a nice kick. The crust was done pretty well, with a nice balance between a crisp pan-side but still slightly doughy in the middle. The mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, red peppers, and basil, along with the Parmesan sprinkle, all worked together really well, with the savory, spicy, and subtle sweet flavors coming through.
It was then onwards to the Honey Deniro, with the mountains of ricotta cheese plopped onto the top of each slice. That was coupled with honey, crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. This was definitely a more cheese-forward slice, with the sweetness from the honey working out pretty well with the ricotta and mozzarella. Flavor-wise though, I think that I preferred the Spicy Pepperoni over the Honey Deniro, with the extra layers of flavors that the Spicy Pepperoni had due to some of the other ingredients. They were, however, both still really solid slices of pizza; I especially enjoyed the crust of the pizza having that good textural balance.
After the pizza slice “appetizers,” it was time to move onto the sandwiches. The Knickerbocker, packed with fried chicken, Cajun turkey slices, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, jalapeños, pickles, cucumbers, avocado, honey mustard, and Cajun mayo, looked to have a good blend between the meats and veggies in between the two pieces of sourdough. There was certainly a lot going on with each bite, but I did like how the freshness of the veggies helped to make the sandwich not feel as heavy. The sweet, spicy, and tart elements from the honey mustard and Cajun mayo definitely helped to complement things with the rest of the sandwich.
Michele let me try the other half of her Italian Bada Bing sandwich, which certainly seemed to channel the flavors of an Italian sub. Mortadella, hot capicola, pepperoni, and salami were matched up with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, yellow mustard, mayo, and Italian dressing. There was definitely a lot going on with each bite, but I did feel that the flavors you got from the Italian meats came through and worked out really nicely with the freshness from the veggies.
Our sandwich journey brought us to Brooklyn Square, and I definitely walked away knowing that there was a little tunnel to NYC located in Pasadena that I could stop by in the future. I liked how there were such a variety of different options to choose from, both for the sandwiches as well as the pizza. All of the ingredients tasted really fresh and the sandwiches were really packed to the brim, true to the photos that we had seen. For getting my deli sandwich fix in the Pasadena area, this spot is at the top of my list so far.
Let’s now take a look at the Brooklyn Square Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Spicy Pepperoni **
Spicy marinara, pepperoni, red peppers, mozzarella, basil.
** Honey Deniro **
Fresh ricotta cheese, honey, mozzarella, crushed tomatoes, basil.
** Knickerbocker **
Fried chicken, Cajun turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, jalapeños, pickles, cucumber, avocado, honey mustard, and Cajun mayo, served on sourdough. Pictured without American cheese.
** Italian Bada Bing **
Mortadella, hot capicola, pepperoni, salami, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, yellow mustard, mayo, and Italian dressing, on a hero roll. Pictured without provolone cheese.
And finally, here are my rankings for Brooklyn Square:
Food: 5 / 5
The choice variety for sandwiches and pizza are solid, and the ingredients all taste really fresh. There are really good flavor combinations for the food that I ended up trying that left me satisfied.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
Even though the seating area might have felt a bit more on the compressed side, I did like how the floor-to-ceiling windows really brought in a lot of natural light from outside and brightened up the entire space.
Service: 4.25 / 5
The staff was friendly when we were up at the counter placing our order, and our food came out of the kitchen relatively quickly after we ordered.
Price: 4.5 / 5
Even though each of our sandwiches was around $16 and each slice of pizza was just over $5, I still felt like the quality of the food provided some good value for what you paid for.
18 / 20
Categories: California, Restaurants
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