Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The 10 Most Underrated Restaurants in Brooklyn

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 7:38 AM


Petit Oven

It would have been easy for classically trained chef Katarzyna Ploszaj—formerly of the Jean George Vongerichten-owned JoJos on the UES—to open up her own restaurant on Smith Street, say, or somewhere along Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. Instead, she took a gamble on her own neighborhood of Bay Ridge, opening a miniscule (barely 30-seat) jewel of a French-American eatery on 276 Bay Ridge Ave. just under five years ago. It turns out the gamble paid off. Petit Oven has since become a haven for local foodies in the know—who obediently turn up on Wednesdays for the three course, $25 prix fixe, on Thursdays for the all-you-can-eat, $19 moules and frites, and just about anytime for a wedge of homemade warm bread pudding with walnuts and salty caramel.

276 Bay Ridge Ave, Bay Ridge





It’s hard to draw attention to yourself when you’re slinging hash in the same neighborhood as Applewood, Talde, and Al di La, but Park Slope eaters would be wise to give the Israeli-inflected Miriam a second glance. Tel Aviv-born chef-owner Rafi Hasid’s menu reflects Jewish influences from around the globe, from kadaif-wrapped shrimp with harissa aioli and Jerusalem bread stuffed with feta, jalapenos and scallions, to chicken shawarma with mango chutney and green tahini and spring lamb shank with couscous, apricots and prunes. The cash-strapped will especially appreciate the daily, 5-8pm Happy Hour, where already reasonably priced wine, beer and mezes sell 2-for-1!

79 Fifth Ave, Park Slope



In the undeniably virtuous foodie hub of Cobble Hill, sometimes it’s nice to find a restaurant that doesn’t take itself so seriously. Yes, the veggies at the rustic Italian market-eatery Brucie are local and sustainable and the meat is hormone and antibiotic free, but the atmosphere is akin to dining in your (cool) aunt’s funky southern kitchen, and the food’s a pleasurable mix between old school (panelle sandwiches, sausage and peppers, stuffed zucchini), and quirky new (tagliatelle with brussels sprouts and house-made burrata, penne with green tomatoes, pancetta, and shrimp).

234 Court St, Cobble Hill



Photo Liz Barclay


Not every restaurant needs to boast candlelight and white tablecloths (in fact, we prefer it), which makes hole-in-the-wall Cholulita one of our top picks for get-down-to-business dining. Straddled on a hardscrabble stretch of Broadway between Bed-Stuy and Bushwick, the bodega-cum-Mexican café peddles Pueblan specialties like antojitos, huaraches and sopes, the over-stuffed sandwiches called cemitas, and larger eats like carnitas, steak with nopales, and burritos with Mexican sausage. Just try to spend over $10 here—just try.

888 Broadway, Bed-Stuy


Photo Patrick Siggins

Grand Sichuan House

Sunset Park is generally known to be the epicenter of authentic Chinese cuisine in Brooklyn, but one of the best spots for Sichuan is perched improbably off the main commercial drag of 86th Street in Bay Ridge. Although Grand Sichuan House has been known to attract off-the-radar eaters like the Village Voice’s Robert Sietsema, more often than not, the formica-topped tables stand empty. Order up a plate of red oil-sluiced wontons, a peppercorn-laced bowl of Dan Dan noodles, or spicy specialties like braised whole fish with hot bean sauce, pork ribs with chestnuts, or the aromatic smoked tea duck, and you’ll be duly rewarded for filling out a few of those seats.

8701 Fifth Ave, Bay Ridge



Locanda Vini e Olli

We dig Frankie’s 457 Spuntino as much as the next guy, but for classy Tuscan fare (with a few risk-taking riffs), it’s hard to find fault with the 11-year-old Clinton Hill favorite, Locanda Vini e Olli—and a lot easier to get a seat on a Friday night. Situated in a glorious converted townhouse that still bears the hallmarks of the 130-year-old pharmacy that came before it, the trattoria turns out unimpeachable primi (saffron pasta “con la sarde” with sardines, raisins, dill and pine nuts, papardelle with braised rabbit), secondi (branzino with oven braised fennel, pork shoulder with cannellini beans), and cheeky antipasti (beef tongue salmistrata, octopus soppresata and tuna salami).

129 Gates Ave, Clinton Hill



Lot 2 Photos Sam Horine

Lot 2

This sweet Sunset Park spot doesn’t get a whole lot (heh) of attention compared to its local-loving brethren, and it’s just not fair. Chef Danny Rojo puts his money where his mouth is by sourcing as much as he can from project EATS—a local network of urban, community-run farms—with delicious results. There’s plenty of goodness to be found on the ever-changing list of chalkboard specials, but the family-style Sunday Suppers (three rib-sticking courses like fried chicken and gravy, mac and cheese with project EATS red kale, and rhubarb crumb bars for $30pp) are not to be missed.

687 Sixth Ave, Sunset Park




Photo Patrick Siggins

Petite Crevette

Legendary Brooklyn restaurateur Neil Ganic (of the former La Bouillabaisse and Bouillabaisse 126) has continued to make waves at his Union Street seafood shack, Petite Crevette, but it’s more for his antics (irately throwing live lobsters at paying customers!) than his food. There’re plenty of reasons to visit besides the possible floor show—namely, simply prepared, fresher than fresh fish, succulent fried oysters and clams, and creamy crab chowder. There’s also the complete and utter lack of pretention: think menus hand-scrawled on brown paper, a BYOB policy, and the chance of crustaceans being hurled at your head. Only in Brooklyn.

144 Union St, Carroll Gardens



By day, this unassuming space on Williamsburg’s southside is a passable coffee and eggs joint, Simple Café… but by night it might just be the best Vietnamese food in Brooklyn. Hyperbolic, sure, but the tiny kitchen—an ambitious pop-up run by Parisian and Vietnamese ex-pats—pairs new Brooklyn’s obsession with fresh, local ingredients with the classic simplicity of Vietnamese street food, all while keeping things ridiculously affordable. [Vegetarians take note, the Banh Cay comes with tofu and seitan.]

346 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg



Walden suffers by looking, and feeling, like hundreds of other new Brooklyn joints that talk a lot about farms and sustainability and offer “unique takes on American classics”… but there’s something different going in this—yes—spare, rustic, light-filled Williamsburg restaurant. Maybe it’s that the décor is more spare than rustic, or that the simplicity so often fetishized in Brooklyn cuisine is less gimmick here than religion; probably, though, it’s the housemade pickles… or the roast chicken… or, you know, the food.

502 Lorimer St, Williamsburg



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