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It’s a pizza the action for Cucina legend Michael Ayoub

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Like his pizza, Michael Ayoub’s career as a pizza man has been circular — when he opens his second outpost of Williamsburg pizza spot Fornino this week in Park Slope, he’ll be returning to the space where he first made his mark nearly 20 years ago at Cucina, once the lone high-quality eatery in Park Slope.

This time, though, he’ll be taking on grilled pizza — his “other love.”

“It’s surreal,” said Ayoub, of his return to the former Cucina space. “It’s like putting on an old sweater again.”

These days, both Ayoub and the concept have grown up a little bit.

“As a chef, I really like to challenge myself. Grilled pizza isn’t really done in New York and it’s certainly not done round,” said Ayoub, adding that grilled pizza affords for more delicate toppings, like softer cheeses, that can’t handle the heat of a 1,000-degree wood-fired oven. That is, pizzas like his Gorgonzola with Fior di Latte, figs and arugula ($14).

Fornino really shares only a name and general enthusiasm for pizza with its Williamsburg precursor. Aside from grilled pizza, Fornino Park Slope will feature a much-expanded menu that includes a wide range of pastas, antipasti, entrees and homemade sausages like the chicken apricot and tallegio with broccoli rabe ($15). It’s also a relative behemoth at 165 seats.

“It’s really cucina de la nonna [grandmother’s kitchen],” said Ayoub “The only thing missing is grandma serving it to you.”

Fornino [256 Fifth Ave. between Garfield Place and Carroll Street in Park Slope, (718) 399-8600].

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Reader Feedback

Lex from Park Slope says:
" “As a chef, I really like to challenge myself. Grilled pizza isn’t really done in New York and it’s certainly not done round,” said Ayoub"

Mike, I know you've been out of the neighborhood for awhile but you really should know that Bar Toto has been doing grilled pizza for about 8 years. They're round too.
May 11, 2010, 9:23 am
Lawrence Gulotta from Park Slope says:
Bring on the SCIAVATA.
May 26, 2010, 9:57 am
ANTONIO CORDOVA from ECUADOR says:
antonio from quito ecuador.....michael ayoub is my mentor....work for him 20 years ago....now his flavor is in all latin america.....thank michael for all your suport in cuccina restaurant brooklyn...in my restaurants VOODOO LOUNGE...and ONE grill house...your flavor, and school is every day.......god bless you...maybe one day i will see you in new york...to day thanks.... FACEBOOK: ANTONIO CORDOVA MORA
Aug. 8, 2011, 6:17 pm

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