When the Shahini family moved to Houston from Brooklyn in 2005, they brought more than their love for pizza. They brought a pizzeria concept and New York ingredients with them as well.
"There are only three things we really care about—service, cleanliness and food," said Jimmy Shahini, who owns Brooklyn Pizzeria along with his two brothers, Ilir and Sammy, and their father, Mike. "This is very important for us. The difference is all about the ingredients. Whatever you pay for you get, and we spend a lot of money to get the best. To make good pizza is very hard."
For more than 25 years, Mike Shahini ran a pizza parlor in Brooklyn, New York. When the family moved to Houston in 2005, Jimmy said they had a difficult time finding restaurants that could make the pizza they grew up with.
In 2006, the family opened Brooklyn Pizzeria in Humble. Six years later, they opened their second location along Hwy. 6 in Missouri City.
"We had a line out the door [in Humble] so we knew we were doing this right," Jimmy said. "We picked Missouri City because they needed good pizza. I enjoy working here, and I enjoy living here. Since our first week we were so busy, and it has stayed that way."
There are several differences between traditional pizza and New York-style pizza. New York boasts large, thin-crust slices and pies. The most popular topping on a New York slice is basic cheese or sometimes pepperoni, Jimmy said.
"In New York, we do not call it pizza," he said. "We call it a pie. If our customers do not know that, we try to teach them. The sauce we make in house. Even the water we bring in from Brooklyn because these are two things that make a great pizza—that and, of course, the cheese."
The menu at Brooklyn Pizzeria is simple but hits all the basics. Pastas, such as lasagna, manicotti, baked ziti and spaghetti with meatballs, are all $6.47 and feature homemade sauces. Pizza by the slice starts at $1.85 and ranges in price based on toppings. There are several appetizers available including Buffalo wings ($6.47) and garlic knots ($4.16).
"Everything we make we create from scratch," Jimmy said. "It may take 10 or 20 minutes but I am sure you are going to enjoy [it]. I tell everyone, 'do what you love.' I love to cook."
One menu item in particular has become increasingly popular. Derived from a recipe passed down from Shahini's mother, Drita, the restaurant's Lemoncello cake has become a guest favorite, selling about 10 whole cakes each week.
"Nobody makes this like we do," Jimmy said. "Mainly because we make it ourselves. It is my mother's recipe. It is all about the filling. We need two days in advance to make this cake."
Since first opening in 2012, the Missouri City location has increased sales by nearly 40 percent, Jimmy said. Looking to the future, the Shahinis said they would like to continue expanding into other areas of Houston.
"We are looking at expansion plans now," Jimmy said. "At the end of this year, we will decide which direction we want to grow."
Slices and pies
For more than 25 years, the Shahinis operated a pizza parlor in Brooklyn. In 2005, the family packed up and moved to Houston and brought with them a love for New York-style pizza. By 2006, they had opened their first Houston pizzeria in Humble. Today, the Shahinis operate a second location in Missouri City where they focus on quality ingredients and traditional slices and pies.
To keep the taste as authentic as possible, the Shahinis use recipes from home and have their water delivered from Brooklyn.
- Starters: Garlic knots—$4.16
- By the slice: Cheese—$1.85; one topping—$2.32; two toppings—$2.54
- Whole pies: $9.24–$19.40
- Pastas: Lasagna—$6.47
- Desserts: Lemoncello—$3.24
Hours: Sun.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.