Milkflower blooms

THE COURIER/Photo by Bradley Hawks

Milkflower’s storefront sits like a pristine display case allowing passersby an exposed view of the dining room and brick pizza oven. Created by brothers Danny and Pete Aggelatos, Milkflower is their first restaurant, though they have been baking pizzas with their uncle in New Jersey for over 10 years. The brothers spent the better part of the past year redesigning the space – formerly a dry cleaner – with reclaimed wood tables, burlap banquettes, a vintage-style mural paying homage to the space’s previous occupant and even a table created from old police barricades.

Named after “fior di latte,” the cow’s milk cheese used for their pizzas (and made in-house daily), Milkflower’s menu features an array of Neapolitan style pizzas.  The classic margherita, with tomato, mozzarella, basil, and parmigiano, is called The Queen. The spicy soppressata packs a sweetened punch that comes from red chili flakes and honey. But one of the most popular dishes is the Brussels Sprout – a sauce-free pie with mozzarella, cracked black egg, shredded sprouts, truffle oil and a soft-centered egg perfect for soaking up with the charred, flaky crusts.

While the pies are truly delicious – I have now tasted six of the 11 options – the dishes that make this pizzeria particularly unique are the small plates. Mixed greens tossed in lemon vinaigrette are jeweled with glistening ruby strawberries both sweet and tart. The Toast Plate for $12 is an absolute must-order, featuring four gorgeously dressed toast points. The chef has whipped a ramp puree into a savory pudding, spreading it onto the crostini, along with charred onions, broccoli rabe and a light dusting of cheese. It is otherworldy. Another is smashed with peas, a delicate ricotta and a whisper of lavender.  These are genuinely special.

The Queen sells for $10, which seems to be the going rate for similar artisan pies in the vicinity.

“We noticed a definite absence of artisan pizza on 31st Avenue,” Danny said.

Milkflower joins the powerhouse avenue lineup that includes the original Bareburger, mex-eclectic Pachanga Patterson, rustic neighborhood cornerstone Brick, tapas-paninoteca extraordinaire Il Bambino, date night favorite DiWine, and family-run Cypriot at Zenon Taverna, just to name a few within a 10-block span morphing this former sleepy street into a legitimate restaurant row.

Drink service includes a selection of craft ales along with some unique sodas – try a bottle of the Fentimans Cherry Cola – though a wine list is soon to come. Dessert arrives in the form of gelato from il laboratorio del gelato on the Lower East Side, with unusual flavors like toasted sesame and honey lavender.  The grapefruit is reminiscent of a delectably bitter creamsicle. From start to finish, Milkflower offers a unique new flavor to 31st Avenue, though I get the feeling people will be traveling from much further away to try it.

34-12 31st Avenue, Astoria