Celebrating 10 Years: The Institutions of New Brooklyn 

Page 10 of 13


In a city with no shortage of pizzerias, Fornino in Williamsburg stands out not only because of the high quality of its food, but also for its made-in-Brooklyn origin story. Chef/owner Michael Ayoub is a born-and-raised Brooklynite who recognized the borough’s need to make its mark on the culinary scene. With critically acclaimed and much-beloved establishments like Park Slope’s Cucina under his belt, Ayoub opened Fornino in 2004. We spoke to owner Michael Ayoub.


What brought you to Brooklyn in the first place?
I was born in Bay Ridge, and that’s where I opened my first restaurant in 1977. I was 20 when I bought it, and I had to wait till I turned 21 to get my liquor license.

What’s the most inspiring or exciting change you’ve witnessed in Brooklyn over the past few years?
Obviously the food culture.

And the most worrisome?
I really don’t have any worries about Brooklyn. It is on a fantastic trajectory culinarily and culturally. We are also reclaiming our world class waterfronts.

What now-closed Brooklyn business do you miss the most?
Planet Thailand. It was a great place. Great food and energy. It’s what lured me to Williamsburg.

Under what circumstances, if any, would you consider leaving Brooklyn?
The only one way I would consider leaving Brooklyn is if I won the lottery and could move my family to Italy.

Now we’re going to ask you to list a few favorites:
Neighborhood, other than your own:
Bay Ridge.
Restaurant: Limon in Sheepshead Bay. Simple fish, grilled to perfection.
Bar: Spike Hill.
Coffee Shop: Pegasus in Bay Ridge. Nobody does breakfast better than them.
Park: Brooklyn Bridge Park. Wonderful park with world- class views.
Old-school Brooklyn institution: Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

Photo by David Loaiza
Pictured Above: Michael Ayoub and Fornino staff

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