When head chef (and co-owner with wife Emily) Matt Hyland moved to New York to attend the Institute of Culinary Education, he eventually ended up apprenticing at Sottocasa, a local wood-fired pizza spot on Atlantic Avenue. After a year, he and his wife decided to start their own venture in nearby Clinton Hill.
Emily is a kind of restaurant you walk into and immediately know you’re in a place where good things happen. It’s a small space with tons of character. Everyone who works here is lovely, from the bartender, to the servers, to the owner, Emily, who you’ll most certainly meet. Emily is a family affair. She runs the show, while her husband, Matt, cooks. The music is on point too – Juan MacLean into Cut Copy into War On Drugs? Yes please. And then there’s the glorious, dreamy, crispy, crunchy, heavenly thin-crusted, lightly burnt, honey-kissed yeasty goodness otherwise known as Emily’s pizza.
Emily serves great pizza, great chicken wings and great burgers. The menu starts strong: the Brussels sprouts, fried and frizzled, are tossed in Worcestershire sauce with diced green apples, chili, and black sesame seeds, and the pig ears, served over winter greens, are crispy and savory. There are 13 pizzas, divided into the red and white: the Classic, a straightforward combo of pureed New Jersey tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, is simple and delicious; the über-meaty RM3!, with pepperoni, sausage, and prosciutto, is particularly hearty. The white pies are also worth sampling: The Q, with mozzarella, Fontina, Pecorino, and ricotta, is a must-order. The crust is bubbly, but can border on charred, and the toppings are all plentiful and fresh. If you’ve got room, there are four pasta options, all made fresh from the Sfoglini Pasta Shop, and some decadent dessert options, including a s’mores calzone stuffed with marshmallows and chocolate, then sprinkled with graham-cracker crumbs.
Just as popular as the pizza is the house burger, served with dry-aged beef on a fluffy pretzel bun. Believe the hype and get one. Made with grass-fed, dry-aged beef, Emmy sauce, caramelized onion and Grafton cheddar served on a Tom Cat pretzel bun, it’s worth ordering even if you’re also having pizza. Eat this burger and life will be better. Actually, eat at Emily and life will be better.
The wine list bounces around from California to Italy and has some refreshingly affordable options. Emily offer four wines on tap and a page of bottles to go with their pies. With choices such as Turley zinfandel and Le Ragnaie Rosso di Montalcino, you could argue that this isn’t your typical pizza joint—this winter, sides included ambitious dishes like a play on the classic Caesar with raw kohlrabi ribbons, and miso-maple-glazed butternut squash over creamy steel cut oats.