Chef Matthew Etchemendy wanted to sit down at the nostalgic pizzerias of his youth, but 30 years after his childhood, none seemed to exist in Brooklyn. So, he opened Ace’s Pizza.
“I love the idea of a pizza restaurant like I grew up with as an ’80s baby,” Etchemendy said. “Like when Pizza Hut was a restaurant, my parents would take me, it was such a good vibe, ordering pies and pitches or soda to the table. It was so great back then.”
In Fall 2019, Etchemendy, who previously owned Headless Horseman and Ichabod’s in Union Square, signed a lease at 637 Driggs Ave. He’d been playing around with doughs and pizzas in the kitchen at his former restaurant, and was ready to make the full-time jump into pizza.
And just when we all needed pizza and a shared pitcher of soda the most, “everything stopped” for several months. Etchemendy reconvened with his team and contractors in July to complete the restaurant build out, waiting on city permits and restrictions before he could finally open for takeout and delivery in early 2021.
Now, Ace’s Pizza focuses on Detroit-style pies. “It’s a pan pizza, baked in a pan, proofed in a pan. The dough gets covered from edge to edge with cheese, caramelizes and crisps up, and creates a cheesy crunchy crust,” Etchemendy explained. Grandma-style pies are also on the menu, are are simple cocktails, wine and beer.
“We have fun vibes and good pizza,” Etchemendy said of Ace’s, which will eventually have 25 seats, including a bar. Food and drinks will be family style, and as the weather warms outdoor seating will be added.
“I know there are thousands of pizzerias in the city, but they’re New York Slice Shops, or fancier, expensive sit down experiences. I wanted somewhere in the middle. bring a comfortable, Midwestern vibe to Brooklyn,” Etchemendy said. “It’s an experience.”
For Ace’s Pizza first timers, Etchemendy recommends the Pepper Trio, which is topped with pickled jalapeños, sweet cherry peppers, and green bell peppers, and finished with a sambal chili honey.
For a little lighter, thinner version more reminiscent of what Etchemendy grew up eating on Long Island, he recommends the grandma pie. A white version is topped with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary. “It’s definitely a winner,” he said.
Ace’s Pizza is also sold by the slice, along with salads, wings, dipping sauce and Manhattan Special coffee soda.