THE GLUTTON'S HIT LIST VOL. 1: Restaurants we are dying to try (BROOKLYN EDITION)
Is it lame to talk about restaurants we haven’t eaten at yet? Obviously, if we have not eaten the food or experienced the vibe of an establishment, we cannot provide the gluttonous insight on the eateries that you come here expecting to be fed. Is it really interesting to rehash the buzz around town about where to eat now without the benefit of the firsthand knowledge required to make an educated recommendation? Sure, why not? Restaurants are springing up around town like weeds, and unlike Sam Sifton, THE BROOKLYN GLUTTON does not eat out for 13 meals a week. Perhaps, as we check these off the list, some of these spots may inspire us to elaborate, but for now, we share with you the top ten restaurants we’re dying to try. As usual, we try to balance our coverage between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and in this case, we successfully split the list in half without even really trying. So as not to overload you, here are five new and almost new spots we are excited about trying in Brooklyn (all happen to be in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, actually). If you make it to any of these places before we do, please share your thoughts on the disqus thread below or on THE BROOKLYN GLUTTON FACEBOOK PAGE. We will follow up with the Manhattan list…
ISA - 348 Wythe Avenue @ S.2nd Street, Williamsburg; 347-689-3594
(ISA photo via archpaper.com )
ISA is a new Brooklyn outing for Taavo Somer, who brought us stylish dining hotspots, FREEMANS off Rivington and PEELS on the Bowery. With its unmarked facade and its high design rustic interior that is visible through the large glass windows, the cozy elegance of ISA is extremely inviting. It appears that ISA is shaping up to be some serious destination dining. Somer has been quoted throughout the internets as describing the look and feel of the place as “primitive modernism." Whether or not he intended for this term to also apply to the food is uncertain, but we can’t wait until the ‘primitive modern’ culinary movement starts to spread like wildfire throughout the land. Williamsburg seems like just the place for such a smoldering concept to fully ignite. It sure looks like Somer has got enough firewood to keep it going.
MAISON PREMIERE - 298 Bedford Avenue (S.1st & Grand Street), Williamsburg; 347-335-0446
(MAISON PREMIER photo via maisonpremiere.com)
Classic New Orleans style Oyster Bar serving 20 varieties of bivalves and Absinthe cocktails? If anyone wants to hit this place right now, we will drop what we are doing and be there in a flash. Maison is open 4pm to 4am daily with brunch at noon on the weekends and $1 oysters during weekday happy hour. From the owner of Williamsburg Bistro, Le Barricou, this decked out, seemingly art directed old-timey NOLA bar is compared by Pete Wells of The New York times to Balthazar in that it is "a fake that sometimes improves on the original.” It sounds like you sit at the bar and fill out a seafood menu checklist with a pencil while perusing a long list of cocktails. Seriously…nothing sounds better.
CALYER - 92 Calyer Street @ Franklin Street, Greenpoint; 347-889-6323
(CALYER photo via heresgreenpoint.com)
This little Latin Tapas spot in Greenpoint is brought to us by one of our perpetual favorite restaurant teams in the neighborhood. Josh Cohen and Blair Papagni bring variety, flavor, delicious food and fun times to those of us lucky enough to be their neighbors in North Brooklyn. JIMMY’S DINER on Union Avenue in Williamsburg and Greenpoint’s ANELLA couldn’t be at farther ends of the spectrum in terms of style of cuisine and dining experience, yet both places owned by the duo are consistently satisfying dining staples in the neighborhood. They are also owners of SAINT VITUS, a bar and music venue at the end of Manhattan Avenue that somehow makes death metal hip and fashionable, along with tasty, creative steamed buns to enjoy during breaks from headbanging. Anella has been attracting foodies from beyond the borough, having received a stellar review from Mr. Sifton in the New York Times round about last Christmas. At the time, Joe Ogrodnek was the Chef, but his tenure expired shortly after the review, and in our opinion, the restaurant got even better with Gabriel Moya at the helm, and with Cohen frequently rolling his sleeves up in the kitchen as well. Moya and Cohen are running the show at Calyer, and from what we are hearing the menu is comprised of an irresistible selection of small plates influenced by Moya’s Puerto Rican heritage and Cohen’s keen sense for seasonal ingredients and taste for offal. The buzz is already abundant over the fantastic Chicharrones and fun cocktails, and, for what its worth, even in its early stages, the Yelpers seem to unanimously approve, which is a good thing, because Papagni has been known to keep a watchful eye on the Yelp reviews and take on the occasional voices of dissent firsthand.
ROSARITO FISH SHACK - 168 Wythe Avenue @ N. 7th Street, Williamsburg; 718-388-8833
(ROSARITO photo via foodcurated.tumblr.com)
Unlike Calyer, the Yelpers seem seriously divided about ROSARITO, with reviews spanning the spectrum from fabulous to horrid. Nevertheless, we admire the owner’s other establishment, EL ALMACEN, a wonderful spot for Argentinian fare just a few blocks away, and we find the unusual Mexican Seafood format of the menu to be extremely appealing. Rosarito does bear the burden of having set up shop in a space that could be considered a cursed location, having hosted one horrible failure after another on this odd 'so close but so far’ corner of N. 7th and Wythe Avenue. The space seems to have been newly designed to complement the unfussy fare on offer, and they have an exceptional selection of Tequila to complement the fish tacos and other Baja inspired crustacean creations. With the onslaught of high quality Mexican food in the neighborhood, ROSARITO needs to be doing something a bit different to set itself apart from the rest in order to make its mark. We like the idea, and we are eager to try it with an open mind to find out on which end of the Yelp spectrum our opinion falls.
ALLSWELL - 124 Bedford Avenue @ N. 10th Street, Williamsburg
(ALLSWELL photo via ny.eater.com)
We are always conflicted when old neighborhood establishments cease to exist to make way for new places. In this case, our favorite Polish restaurant on the Williamsburg side of Little Krakow, Raymund’s Cafe, has finally shuttered its doors for good, and its replacement looks like it will be a high concept, late night, gastropub aimed at the new wave of hipsters, yuppies, and foodies alike. Rather than spending time and energy hating the newcomers, along with ourselves, we have rationalized that there is plenty of decent Polish food in Greenpoint for when we have a hankering that is really no different than Raymund’s was, and the folks at Raymund’s weren’t exactly warm and fuzzy, even after years of patronage. So, while we are sad to see Raymund’s go, we welcome the new food movement, and accept the transformation as evolution. Any day now, we expect ALLSWELL to open its doors. Former Spotted Pig chef, Nate Smith, will be doing his thing here, offering lunch, dinner and late night dining for Willamsburg revelers.
Keep your eyes open for the Manhattan half of our hit list in the days to come…