Have you ever noticed how many foods seriously weaken your resolve to eat healthfully each summer? Ice cream. BBQ. And oh yeah, deep-fried everything. I mean, how can we be expected to rock sundresses, bikinis and itty-bitty short shorts when belly clams and fried chicken so perfectly complement the season? And resistance is especially futile when you consider the delicious dishes on offer at a bunch of area restaurants, like the soft shell crab sandwiches at Fritzl’s Lunch Box and the Le Grand Aioli (a mixed plate of crispy goodness) at Marlow & Sons. So go ahead and enjoy that plantain-stuffed arepa at Caracas while sunbathing at Rockaway Beach. Because that’s what cover-ups are really for, right?
Marlow & Sons
Inspired by a similar special at San Francisco’s Chez Panisse, Williamsburg’s Marlow & Sons is offering a "Le Grand Aioli" on Monday nights. Which is, essentially, a heap of seasonally-inspired fried tidbits hanging around a bowl of garlicky mayo. Past suspects have included asparagus, green tomatoes, whitefish, pickled onion rings, oysters and bluefish, but look for string beans, okra, heirloom tomatoes, baby zucchini, sardines and whitebait in the weeks to come.
81 Broadway, (718) 384-1441
There’s fancified Southern fare to be found at this new Bedford Avenue spot, like Pork Tenderloin with hominy and sweet potato mash, Arctic Char with crawfish stew and mustard greens, and Cider Beans with poached egg and corn bread. Although the restaurant’s name steers you, quite rightly, directly towards the chicken. Make that brined, buttermilked and craggy-crusted fried chicken, flanked by classic, bacon & cheddar or rosemary & mushroom waffles. There’s even an option of seitan-based “Vegetarian Fried Chicken” if you’re so inclined. This being Williamsburg, after all.
164 Bedford Avenue, (347) 725-4793
Fritzl’s Lunch Box
If owner Dan Ross-Leutwyler had packed our lunchboxes growing up, we probably wouldn’t have suffered through dented apples, half-frozen juice boxes and squished peanut butter and jelly. You’ll definitely feel like the coolest kid in school feasting on Beer Battered Summer Squash with sweet & spicy dipping sauce (an elevated alternative to greasy zucchini sticks), Fried Chicken on a roll, or a Soft Shell Crab sandwich, served with honey mustard and pickled vegetables. And don’t forget to order a slab of banana cream pie for dessert — Ross-Leutwyler’s wife is Carolyn Bane of Pies-n-Thighs.
173 Irving Avenue, (929) 210-9531
It just isn’t summer without a basket of deep-fried seafood. And full-belly clams (just starting to take the place of desiccated strips on the city’s shellfish menus) are always at the top of our must-eat list. We’re especially fond of the generously portioned and priced clams at Kittery in Carroll Gardens, with a flour and cornmeal crust that just barely conceals the briny, intensely sweet meat inside. Extra points for the side of hand-cut, skin-on french fries.
305 Smith St, (718) 643-3293
Caracas Arepa Bar
One of the hardest hit areas during Hurricane Sandy, the Rockaway’s have nevertheless regrouped in time for summer. And one of the first orders of business was to reinstate a few of their very popular food vendors on the boardwalk. The beachside branch of Williamsburg’s Caracas Arepas Bar was one of the first to return, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the La Gato — a grilled corn cake stuffed with fried sweet plantains, squeaky Guayanes cheese, and avocado slices. And since we just really love plantains, we’re not above ordering them as a side too, either topped with cheese or basted in cinnamon-plantain butter. Can’t stomach the Rockabus? You can always kick back in the yard of the Grand Street location with a basket of house-fried taro chips and creamy guacamole.
106-01 Shore Front Pkwy, (718) 474-1709
Open year-round, the fare at this “not so fast” fast food restaurant just tastes better during the summer. And the reliable throngs of flip-flopped patrons packing the parking lot and milling about waiting for their made-to-order sandwiches seem to agree. Although aberrant menu items like a $60 bottle of Moet champagne betray odd delusions of grandeur, must-order dishes are unapologetically junky and greasy. Take the fab corn fritters, bite-sized golden nuggets with creamy, corn-studded innards. Don’t forget, you can have cheez on anything you pleez!
2901 Emmons Ave, (718) 769-6000
What could be better than fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and fried bologna? That would be burgers topped with fried chicken, fried green tomatoes and fried bologna. This “urban country café” in Bed Stuy is all about Southern comfort, especially as it pertains to judicious use of a deep-fat fryer.
415 Tompkins Ave, (718) 483-9111
Although the menu at this pan-Asian Ditmas Park restaurant is awash with deep-fried items, they’re generally accompanied by plenty of fresh or pickled veggies and tropical fruit. So that means they’re also kind of good for you, right? Take the Filipino spring rolls called lumpia, filled with cabbage, carrot and jicama and served with sweet-sour pineapple sauce, the watermelon radish kimchi fried rice, and the Lechon Kawali, deep fried pork belly paired with pickled papaya. All of which, incidentally, go down particularly well with a variety of refreshing, soju-based cocktails.
1314 Cortelyou Rd, (718) 940-8188