What would a hip-hop pizzeria look like? From the outside, Williamsburg’s Best Pizza is indistinguishable from any other Brooklyn dollar-slice joint, but chef-owner Frank Pinello‘s acclaimed pies and an ear-splitting hip-hop playlist that includes The Notorious B.I.G., Nas and Wu-Tang Clan are making it a must-go for rap luminaries from Odd Future to Action Bronson.
When Best opened in 2009, its foodie cred is what garnered notice: Pinello, 32, is an alum of Bushwick pizza mecca Roberta’s (where the Clintons have been seen dining) and the now-shuttered Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria; his partners at Best are the owners of the former. Raves from food blogs, Bon Appetit and The New York Times followed.
But Best hasn’t only drawn the expected foodies and area hipsters. Music-biz notables including Epic chairman/CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid, rapper-producer Space Ghost Purrp and members of the Brooklyn rap crew Pro Era are all fans of Pinello’s no-frills menu. Among the customer-decorated paper plates that line the simple interior is one featuring the Sharpie-scribbled signature of ASAP Rocky. Meanwhile, Pinello recently helped launch Los Angeles’ Prime Pizza, which already has hosted Tyler, The Creator and Odd Future crewmate Earl Sweatshirt.
What’s behind Pinello’s unlikely hip-hop buzz? He attributes it to the proximity to the offices of Questlove-founded music site Okayplayer and PR firm Life or Death (which represents Odd Future, Pro Era and others), and, most of all, his love of rap. “A lot of it has to do with the music that we play,” explains Pinello. “A song comes on and I’ll start talking about rappers. These awesome rap conversations just happen.”
One weekly visitor (and devoted fan of Pinello’s chicken parmesan) is rapper Action Bronson, who hosts the Vice food show F—, That’s Delicious, which will feature Best in an upcoming episode. Justin Nealis, who produced two buzz-worthy mixtapes for Action Bronson under the name Party Supplies, passed the unassuming pizzeria countless times before stopping in and falling in love with Best’s food and atmosphere. “It’s a cool vibe,” he says. “There will be an older couple eating and they’re just blasting Cam’ron. They’re doing it the way they want to.”
Indeed, Pinello says his partners initially suggested softer music. “If I listened to what people told me, right now we’d probably be playing f—ing Rod Stewart, or something like that,” he says. “I stuck to my guns, and that’s what helped make us what we are today.”