For nearly a decade, Milana’s New York Pizzeria on 4th St. in Downtown Long Beach has been the city’s go-to spot for NY-style pizza: wide, flat slices covered in tangy (not sweet) tomato sauce, just begging to be folded in half. With its steady success, the owners unsurprisingly decided to open another location – Milana’s Brooklyn Squares, located off Los Coyotes by the Traffic Circle, earlier this month.
This new addition to the Milana’s family, Brooklyn Squares has a much more pared down menu. Where the original downtown pizzeria offers chicken wings, desserts, a pasta bar, and sandwiches (along with almost 30 different Specialty Pizza sections), the new restaurant keeps it simple with several choice pizzas, calzones, a few pastas, and some salads.
The interior of both stores is nearly identical – subway tiles and steel, white walls covered in a mishmash of black-framed photos depicting family, movie stars, East Coast cityscapes and sky scrapers, plus some cheeky signage (“Be nice, or we’ll burn your pizza on purpose!”). They got lucky with the space – formerly a Toppings Pizza, the restaurant setup and décor didn’t need much changing to fit their concept.
The new business is a small, quick service operation, but they made the most of the seating layout with a few tables in the front, and the addition of a convenience counter with instructions reading, “Stand – Eat – Wait.”
Much of Brooklyn Square’s pizza menu reads the same as the New York Pizzeria, but these aren’t the thin-crust, triangular, plate-engulfing slices of Milana’s flagship restaurant. Brooklyn Squares sells – surprise, surprise – thick-crusted pizza by the four-cornered piece.
You can order individual squares from a counter display in the front, including a piece of Milana’s famous Pink Pizza (a cheese pie with house made blush vodka sauce), or a Vegan option, and add any toppings you’d like (along with the expected pizzeria toppings, they offer anchovies, pastrami, and salami), which are easily visible behind the counter glass for you to pick and choose. Entire pizzas are referred to simply as “4sq.”
One of the signature specialty pizzas Milana’s morphed over into their new square concept is the popular White Pizza. Now dubbed White Square, this massive pie comes with a velvety alfredo-like sauce and is topped with mozzarella, ricotta, spinach, and garlic. It’s rich and very creamy; make use of the red pepper flake shakers available to cut some of the dairy bomb.
They have a Margherita Square with fresh basil, and a Brooklyn Meat Market option which comes piled with pepperoni, meatballs, and bacon. The Greenpoint Square, a veggie-forward choice, is a basic cheese pie topped with mushrooms, green bell peppers, onions, and olives.
But the solid recommendation is to get Milana’s version of the sweet and spicy Pepperoni and Honey Pizza. Tart tomato sauce covers melty mozzarella, and the whole brick of pizza is dotted with those perfectly tiny pepperoni rounds, the kind that curl up along the edges when cooked, pooling greasy flavor. It comes already drizzled with honey, but grab a honey-bear bottle and add some more, especially along the crispy-edged crusts.
Perhaps they’ll expand their menu as the business gets more settled, but in the meantime, Milana’s has the classic tastes of East Coast pizza cornered.
Milana’s Brooklyn Squares, 2000 Ximeno Ave., Long Beach, (562) 498-1411; www.milanasnewyorkpizzeria.com.