On a recent super top secret important Greenpointers business meeting, I needed some sweet and Lauren at Milk n’ Roses described an Italian pastry stuffed with cheese and flavored ever so slightly with orange. “Give me that!”
What came was a sfogliatella, so I know why she didn’t even try to pronounce it. (Sf-oy-yuh-tell-uh) Crazy Italians! Who cares how to say it? It’s delicious and you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full anyway.
After working at an Italian bakery as a teenager in Queens, I quickly got sick of all the cannolis, rainbow cookies and the collect calls from the bakery owner’s mafioso son in jail, but I never got sick of the sfogliatelle (that’s plural).
Sfogliatelle are Nonna, my Sicilian grandmother’s, favorite dessert so it’s always in the box of pastries we bring to her house when we have our traditional Sunday eat-until-you-pass-out feast.
It is crispy dough infinitely layered into the shaped of a shell and inside is soft and not too sweet ricotta with a nice citrus tang and dusted with powdered sugar. Try one next time you’re at Milk n’ Roses (1110 Manhattan Ave), they’re irresistible!
The newest cafe to open up just east of the Nassau G-train is Cafe Pistachio (114 Nassau Ave). Owned and operated by a trio of food lovers trained in catering and culinary arts, this cafe is warm and its staff is inviting. Pistachio’s menu presents Turkish standards including açma (served best with a side of warm feta cheese), kumpirs and house-made yogurt. Though the savory food alone is worth a stop in, Cafe Pistachio also boasts a large assortment of house-made baked goods including sizable Madeleine cookies, chocolate truffles and a sinful Pistachio Dome. This seemingly modest dark chocolate half-sphere holds a rich pistachio mousse and is served on a gold foiled platter. Though Pistachio’s interior is less candlelight dining and more hey, let’s get a coffee, any Greenpoint gal or guy who brings a Dome—or at least suggests one—on a first date is sure to score points. And so does Pistachio for their charm and tasty treats.
After dark it turns discreetly into a pleasant wine bar.
Recently, the lure of both a new menu and a Saturday night Lambrusco Special gave me cause for a visit.
The deal: Buy two glasses of Lambrusco, get one free.
Accompanied by a writer friend, we were struck by the romantic atmosphere immediately upon stepping through the door. Low lighting, candles, exposed wood and bookshelves, like WORD with a speakeasy in the basement.
It’s not the best atmosphere for a platonic business discussion, but on vibe alone it’s instantly a great date spot.
I’d just like to get this right out of the way and say that black magic works. I’ve dabbled in the dark arts and after all of the proper blood rites have been performed and incantations memorized, I’ve gotten exactly what I wanted.
Xi’an Famous Foods has opened a location closer to me than their East Village spot. Their new location in Greenpoint (86 Beadel St) is a ten minute walk from my house, and I’d personally like to thank the Dark Lord Clothos for making this possible.
For those of you not familiar with Xi’an in all its spicy glory, allow us to show you the way. Originally from Flushing, with two outposts in Manhattan, Xi’an Famous Foods has consistently been credited with helping the resurgence of traditional Chinese food here in New York. Specializing in traditional Western Chinese cuisine, Xi’an represents conventional Americanized Chinese food in much the same way the croissanwich represents French food. A very different beast indeed.
Best Margarita Pizza (172 Norman Ave) has decent competition (Vinnie’s and Carmine’s Original Pizza are nearby), but sets itself apart by close supervision – the proprietor, Karim Ahmed, oversees the parlor and does so with love.
Although four pizzas are consistently on offer, Margarita, Sicilian, Artichoke, and Crab, Ahmed touted the restaurant’s namesake above all others, hinting that he named it as such for a very good reason. For a New York slice, Ahmed’s effort is well above average.
This article made possible by a donation to our Writer’s Fund by Greenpoint Veterinary Hospital.I had taken a nasty spill on the way to Eagle Trading Company (258 Eagle St). The quarter inch of snow on the streets got the best of my nearly bald bike tires, and I broke most of the fall with my shoulder.
Eagle Trading Company offered a perfect place to lick my wounds and warm up after the embarrassing tumble. ETC (Eagle Trading Company) promised me Manhattan clam chowder and coffee to succor newly forming bruises.
Essentially a TARDIS (look it up if you’re not versed in Dr. Who), the space is deceptively small from the outside, but massive once inside. Cavernous in just the right way, ETC inhabits what was formerly an abandoned storfront and what was an abandoned bodega before that. The TARDIS comparison is an apt one. Once inside ETC I was immediately struck by how welcomingly anachronistic it was.
Living in Greenpoint, we are lucky to have one of the largest collections of Polish restaurants serving traditionally meat-centric goodness this side of Warsaw. And this is the season for it. Gray, fog-dampened, winter stretches where day and night are hard to tell from one another lend themselves to comfort food.
Grab your sweatpants and your inner fat kid, and read on for what we think are some of the best places in the neighborhood to get your international grub on.
Northside Bakery- Corner of Nassau and Humboldt
Essentially a traditional Polish bakery that decided they could fit some tables and chairs in the space and provide quick counter service. Perfect for grabbing golobki (stuffed cabbage) to go, or chicken noodle soup that’s still has a perfect layer of chicken fat reflecting on the surface. Every variation of rye, multi-grain, rustic, and peasant bread are up for grabs if you wanna carbo-load. This place is about as legit as it gets and it’s crazy inexpensive. Next time you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and get yourself the beet salad.
Lomzynianka-646 Manhattan Ave
Outside of actually having a Polish grandmother, this place is as close as you’re going to get to getting a home cooked meal. The decor here is probably more famous than the menu. Permanent Christmas lights, multi-colored streamers that scallop their way across the drop-tile ceiling, and taxidermied deer heads are festooned with Hawaiian leis can all be found in what is essentially a Polish rec-room from the early 70s. The white borscht and tripe soup are some of the best we’ve ever had and that’s no small compliment. For the more adventurous among you, boiled pork hocks and tongue in horseradish sauce can be found. This place is an institution, and the most expensive thing is only $9. Did we mention that this place is also BYOB? Yeah. We’ve spent many an afternoon sipping Żywiec and nibbling on perfectly prepared farmer’s cheese in this little gem.
Krolewskie Jadlo-694 Manhattan Avenue
We guess when you advertise the fact that you used to be a head chef at Rober DeNiro’s Nobu, we should know what we are getting ourselves into. Easily spotted by the iconic suit of armor found out front, Krolewskie Jadlo takes traditional Polish dishes and elevates them to more complex and innovative offerings. Sure, most Polish dishes are one of the infinite iterations of meat, cabbage, and potatoes, but head chef and owner Krzysztof Drzewiecki is doing his best to change that misconception. A still wildly affordable menu is real big on game meat. Stuffed wild boar with cognac pepper sauce, venison meat balls with garden dumplings and mushroom truffle oil sauce, and grilled pheasant breast served with port fig sauce can all be had for less than $15 bucks each. Grubbing on wild boar in a space that feels like a king’s mead hall is also a pretty tight way to spend an evening.
Karczma Polish Restaurant- 136 Greenpoint Ave.
Growing up in Florida, we guess we’re just a sucker for a themed restaurant. Eating at Karczma is like visiting a historical reenactment site. Not like Civil War reenactments, those are just weird. Once inside the decor and costumes do their best to convince you that you’ve somehow made a wrong turn and ended up in 18th century Poland. Traditional polish food, live polish folk music, and waitresses dressed in traditional peasant garb all combine to create the illusion of dining in a rustic country side inn. Peasant style lard is easily one of the most amazing appetizers we’ve ever had. Mixed with bacon and spices and served with warm rye bread, it’s probably a good thing that lard isn’t that easy to find. We’d put it on everything. Grilled blood sausage, pierogis, hunter’s stew, and spicy beef goulash are all damn near perfect. They also have a full bar and a pretty sweet happy hour on Thursdays. $3.50 Żywiec every Thursday from 5pm – 9pm is some of the cheapest beer offerings in town.
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are dozens of delis, bakeries, and cured meat spots peppered throughout Greenpoint. Visit one, be adventurous, and eat something with a name you can’t pronounce. Chances are it’s going to be something you’ve never had before and wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.
I drank a lot of whiskey last week on my quest to find Greenpoint’s best hot toddy. The booze guzzling was well worth the effort. I’m proud to announce Greenpoint bars are no stranger to the tasty winter treat. I found a few bangin’ toddies in this ‘hood and got a little tipsy along the way.
Before I feign food critic and rate the toddies, how about some history, in case you’ve somehow survived without toddies all winter long? Traditionally, the drink combines whiskey, boiling water and sugar or honey. Cloves, lemon and/or cinnamon may also be added. According to good ol’ Wikipedia, hot toddies were once recommended as a cure for the common cold, but the American Lung Association denounced this because alcoholic beverages cause dehydration. Yeah, whatever.
Though a seemingly simple recipe, concocting the best hot toddy is an art. You’d be surprised how disappointing a toddy can be – especially when you’re paying $8 for what tastes like hot water with lemon. Luckily, the bartenders in this neighborhood know what they’re doing and tend to be plenty generous when it comes to pouring whiskey.
Runner Up:Greenpoint Heights, 278 Nassau Avenue
Props to the hidden dive bar on the corner for having hot water ready to go upon my arrival. Also, I’m sending a virtual fist pump to the bartender for pouring half a mug-full of Evan Williams before adding the water, cinnamon stick and lemon with cloves. THIS toddy would cure a common cold. And knock you on your ass. Heights’ hot toddy isn’t trying to be anything special. It needs honey. I did like the holiday teddy bear mug, though. And I hear this place has great tacos.
Runner Up: Black Rabbit, 91 Greenpoint Avenue
First, let me point out that Black Rabbit wins for coziest, most perfect toddy ambience. Fireplace? Check. Twinkly lights? Check. This is an ideal place to escape a cold winter night. My biggest problem with their recipe is the use of scotch instead of whiskey. Huh? It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t my favorite. Rabbit’s excessive use of lemon made the toddy too bitter for my liking. Additional ingredients include honey syrup (equal parts honey and water, boiled and cooled), Tetley’s black tea bag, cinnamon stick and a clove-studded lemon slice.
Third Place: Berry Park, 4 Berry Street
“Jameson. Fresh lemon. Honey.” That’s what the menu reads. There’s not much else to say about it. Berry Park’s toddy fits the traditional definition best. It’s simple and delicious and not trying to be fancy. It had just the right amount of each ingredient.
Second Place: Spritzenhaus, 33 Nassau Avenue
For the record, Spritzenhaus almost came in first. I lucked out with a bartender who is extremely passionate about his hot toddy making. His trick: Coat the bottom of the glass (not a mug) with lots of honey. He used Barton’s whiskey, which sounds worse than it tastes, I promise. The honey disguised it well. You can certainly request better whiskey if you prefer. Spritz’s toddy also included a lemon wedge with cloves in it and a cinnamon stick. Fireplaces and Jenga definitely added to this Greenpoint beer garden’s hot toddy perfection. Bravo, Spritzenhaus. Bravo!
WINNER: Enid’s, 560 Manhattan Avenue
Enid’s serves a perfectly whiskeyed and perfectly sweetened toddy that’s easy on the lemon (despite the use of lemon juice and a lemon wedge) and sans both cinnamon and honey. The secret ingredient that makes this toddy so goddamn delightful is…wait for it…maple syrup! In addition to its deliciousness, the hundreds of handmade snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and the still-standing-in-January Christmas tree provided the ultimate winter atmosphere. Enid’s toddy isn’t on the menu, but ask and you shall receive. Congrats, Enid’s!
The Enid’s Magic Recipe:
1 Part Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1 Part Fresh Squeezed Meyer Lemon Juice
1 Part Grade B Maple Syrup
2 Parts Boiling Water
Don’t be fooled by the scary vegan word, because food is food and we all love eating. Especially at a restaurant when someone else is doing the cooking. Being a health-conscious vegan eater with a boyfriend who will eat anything, going out and grubbing out is something we DO. I’ve gathered together the best vegan meals in Greenpoint; even though there are definitely more than just five.
1. Paulie Gee’s (60 Greenpoint Ave)
With a separate vegan menu, and one cozy dining space, you are sure to enjoy one of the most delicious pizza joints in all of New York City. Five white pies and a red pie with tons of toppings start at $10 and go up to $18. They even have homemade vegan sausage! I have to say the “Vegan Greenpointer” with the lemon juice is my personal favorite. Lemon on everything!
2. Spritzenhaus (33.33 Nassau Ave)
You can’t miss this giant beer garden featuring tons of beers on tap and a list of German bratwursts. The most unsuspecting thing on the menu is a vegan brat! A specialty locally sourced vegan brat with apple wood sage and a balsamic reduction on a pretzel bun topped with a heavy helping of peppers and onions, this brat will blow your mind, for only $11. In fact, my meat guru boyfriend prefers this vegan brat to some of the more game-y ones. Don’t forget to get a side of the Belgian fries and try the surplus of mustards they offer.
3. Greenpoint Heights (278 Nassau Ave)
The most talked about new hangout in “this side” of Greenpoint, you all know how awesome Greenpoint Heights is. The chill, unpretentious vibes, matched with the incredible food and drinks, this spot is my jam. Elizabeth is one amazing chef, concocting some serious tacos. The vegan options include a sweet plantain taco and a black bean taco. Mango salsa, guacamole, and fried shallots are a few of the yummy toppings. Other favorites include the banging chips & guac as well as the kale salad (without the cheese of course.) Tacos are $4 each but $3 on Thursdays!
4. Café Royal (195 Nassau Ave)
A coffee shop by day, and a gourmet kitchen by night! One vegan special this café features for dinner is the quinoa plate. Quinoa with sautéed tofu, kale, corn, and roasted tomatoes and pine nuts, topped with some pesto. This healthy dish is a hearty helping that includes a side salad and toast for only 11 bucks. It is one of those dishes that is so good (and easy) that when you try to do it yourself, you can’t even come close. Chef Juan is the master of this bad boy.
5. No Name Bar (597 Manhattan Ave)
No name, no website, no press. But, I couldn’t refuse. This hidden spot in the middle of everything is also featuring a secret Thai kitchen with a badass woman chef. The sprawling backyard is where the kitchen is tucked away and it features a couple vegan options. One is the homemade veggie dumpling noodle soup with bok choi for $9. Spruce that baby up with some chili paste, and this big serving of hot soup with scrumptious dumplings is the perfect soup for a cold day.
During the holidays, time is on fast forward and we need our caffeine fix without a lot of waiting around. Here are some of the best coffee shops in Greenpoint for when we are on the go. That being said, I don’t care what kind of a rush you are in, never order you espresso in a to-go paper cup (the blasphemy!) and don’t forget to tip your barista.
Excellent brew and my favorite cappuccino in the hood, the space was designed just for a coffee line. These efficient baristas magically fill orders so the wait is never long.
• Champion (1108 Manhattan Ave)
If you live this far up Manhattan, you will need a warm coffee to help you speed walk to the train. Champion has some of the best espressos in Greenpoint and some of the most on point baristas who will get you on your way without a lot of fuss.