Of all the endless ways people have come up with to explain why a given restaurant is good, there’s maybe no higher compliment than, “It’s my neighborhood spot,” along with everything that implies —the quality and pricing, sure, but also the feeling that once you get in the door you can actually relax. And two years after launching the beloved-by-locals Rucola in Boerum Hill, the “neighborhood spot” is something Henry Moynahan Rich and Julian Brizzi know quite a bit about. It’s also something they’re hoping to recreate within an utterly different set of circumstances—this time in Bushwick with Fitzcarraldo, an ambitious new set-up as 3rd Ward’s in-house restaurant.
“If you’re going to a place a few times a week,” Brizzi says, “it needs to be delicious, but it also needs to be affordable and healthy.” Rich adds, “If Boerum Hill wanted a Northern Italian farmhouse, we thought Bushwick needed an opera house in the middle of the Amazon, hence the name,” a reference to Fitzcarraldo, the 1982 Werner Herzog movie in which an eccentric millionaire decides to build a full-blown opera house in the middle of the jungle.
Granted, Brizzi and Rich’s mission at 3rd Ward seems to be a little (all right, a lot) more plausible, but it still bears the quixotic markings of its namesake, in the form of dramatically arched ceilings, Peruvian tiles that look as if they’ve already seen years worth of satisfied locals, and an outdoor seating area they’re planning to turn into something of a makeshift greenhouse, with glass over the top and vines obscuring its notoriously industrial surroundings.
Then, of course, there’s the food. Lovingly put together by chef Vinny Campos, the menu sticks to Rucola’s locally sourced, vegetable-based Northern Italian ethos, but here with more of an eye to the coastal region of Liguria. Which means lots of delicately employed seafood, ranging from simpler presentations (elegantly marinated fluke, broccoli rabe in which anchovy works almost as a seasoning), alongside bigger undertakings, most notably a Rhode Island squid dish stuffed with scallops, mussels and fennel. They also have an eye to the day-to-day needs of 3rd Ward's denizens with an in-house barista, as well as accessible breakfast and lunch options. "The building is filled with creative, driven entrepreneurs and students who want to learn and do productive things—what better community could you ask for," Brizzi said. And it's a community to which Fitzcarraldo will be a very welcome addition.
Fitzcarraldo;195 Morgan Aveue