I would probably show up anywhere that promised Roberta’s pizza. The famed joint’s Brooklyn location was at the epicenter of the Bushwick Block Party on the afternoon of July 27th. My friends and I traveled into the depths of the borough promptly at 12:00pm, though we had to wait about thirty minutes on a longer-than-expected line. “Bouncers” checked IDs at the door, which was probable cause for the sluggish queue. Lone hipsters, groups of twenty-somethings, and families with small children flooded the few blocks marked off for the event, which grew evermore crowded as the hours passed. Upon entering, the first thing I noticed was a mini Vans “skate zone.” Behind this ramp was a designated food truck row, featuring Red Hook Lobster, Crif Dogs, and an Action Bronson-themed vehicle. I had my eye on Roberta’s, though, and made my way into the open area by the main stage that housed a handful of other vendors. I inhaled my perfectly-prepared, piping-hot margherita pie despite the rising temperature outside. Immediately following, I had two enormous ice pops from the adjacent booth—Cherry Limeade and Piña Colada—both of which hit the spot. I tried and loved Aranci Bros.’ vegetarian rice ball, despite its density (VERY heavy for a summer day!). Other food options I did not get to sample included Momo Yakitori, The Meat Hook, Yuji Ramen, and TuTu’s. One of the stands present sold customizable airbrushed t-shirts, which tempted me until I saw the price: $35! Guess I’ll just make my own awesome Roberta’s shirt another time. “Salami Mamiz,” a name I couldn’t love more, sold pizza-themed apparel. I wish I had sprung for the high-waisted jean shorts with two slices on the butt! There were also Toms-like canvas shoes featuring a mini pizza print, among other unique items.
These two stations were among the few non-food vendors, although Vans did give out free t-shirts and tanks. THAT line was incredibly long, but I managed to weasel my way up to the front to grab a size L that nobody wanted. People were waiting an extraordinarily long time for the Vans reps to fire up more of the tank tops in smaller sizes, so I decided I’d prefer to quickly snag a pajama shirt! I was slightly disappointed that the photo booth Vans also promised was nowhere to be found… but I bounced back once I got my picture taken with the Mickey Mouse that was mingling amidst the crowd. Although I stuck to Red Hook’s homemade lemonade, I noticed that several beer stations sprinkled throughout the event space thwarted congestion. My friends and I sought relief under a couple of tents perched near one mini bar located in the garden at Roberta’s. Seats (let alone seats in the shade) were indeed a nice surprise. There were several places to sit, both sunny and shady, which made the day enjoyable and relaxing. It was also cool to finally see Roberta’s actual location in all of its graffitied glory, as I had only sampled their pies at various food events before this day.
The stage remained bare for the entirety of my visit, but images I saw from later in the evening showed several performers (and unbelievable crowds!). There was music playing in the afternoon, though: I never got an explanation for the several people happily dancing on the roof of a large vehicle! People on ground-level were also dancing, and a handful of children splish-splashed under a little awning with misting water. Beats were pumping, drinks were flowing… as far as I could tell, a wonderful time was had by all. Bushwick, I’ll be back.
By: Emily Giove