At Greenpointers, we got a pretty good thing going. All day long, we get to talk about the small businesses, restaurants, people, volunteer efforts, politicians, and parks that make Greenpoint and Williamsburg an incredible place to live. It’s a pretty sweet gig, and with the plethora of options in our neck of the woods, it’s often a pretty easy one, too. So we decided to take a look back at 2023, at our own personal favorite stories from the year.

Of course, asking a Greenpointers staffer a favorite local thing is like picking among your children. Every local business is our favorite. That being said, some are more of our favorites than others. Here are our picks for 2023.

Erin Conlon, writer

What was your favorite story that you worked on this year? 

I love a follow-up, so probably my two stories about Kellogg’s Diner (and its upcoming revamp) (518 Metropolitan Ave).

What’s a new 2023 business that you’re particularly excited about? 


As a big fan of both cats and (cat-safe) flowers, Flower Cat cafe (162 Noble St.)

What was the best thing you ate in the neighborhood? 

The Taqueria Ramirez collab burger at The Mallard Drake (43 Franklin St.), bacon-wrapped dates at El Born (651 Manhattan Ave.), and a chocolate cake doughnut from Peter Pan (727 Manhattan Ave.)

What would you like to see in Greenpoint in 2024?

More measurable progress on Superfund cleanups.

Emma Davey, managing editor

What was your favorite story that you worked on this year?

While it didn’t take that long to put the story together, I really loved doing a write up about the new gate at Marsha P. Johnson State Park, which is the first New York state park named after an LGBTQ person. It would have been easy just to slap her name on a park just for clout, and not actually try to engage with her legacy, so I’m glad that the New York State Parks Department approached it thoughtfully. It’s a really beautiful way to honor her, especially with all of the community programming that the park hosts there. 

What’s a new 2023 business that you’re particularly excited about?

Cecily, a new restaurant which just opened on 80 Franklin Street. I spoke with them over a year before they actually opened so it was cool to see them build out the space. I think it’s really cool that they’ve taken steps to create a healthy work environment for staff, with profit sharing and education efforts. I ate there recently and the food was totally worth the wait — do yourself a favor and get the ginger semifreddo if it’s on the menu!

What was the best thing you ate in the neighborhood?

When Radio Bakery (135 India St.) did a pop-up out of Chez Ma Tante earlier this year, I knew I was in trouble for when they set up permanently, only a few blocks from me. Everything I’ve eaten there has been great, but I’m obsessed with their chocolate and peanut croissants. I also loved the ravioli at Layla, (352 Bedford Ave.) the tahini brownie from Edy’s Grocer (136 Meserole Ave.), and my perennial favorite, like Jen also mentioned, the short rib ravioli at Naked Dog (47 Java St.). So I guess when I’m looking back at this list, my favorites were either a nutty chocolate dessert or ravioli.

What would you like to see in Greenpoint in 2024?

A functioning ferry system! Preferably one that is not privately owned! 

The ravioli at Layla. Photo credit: Samantha Hillman

Jennifer Rosini-Gentile, food editor

What was your favorite story that you worked on this year?

It’s so tough to choose one favorite story I worked on this year, but I’ll go with — HERE FOR THE SCHMEAR: AN INTERVIEW WITH SAM SILVERMAN. Greenpoint local Sam Silverman is Brooklyn’s very own Bagel Ambassador who started New York’s first bagel festival in 2019. After seeing how popular BagelFest was, he started his own company, BagelUp, and now gives year-round tours, offers classes, facilitates nationwide shipping, and consults. I enjoyed chatting with Silverman. He loves bagels in the same way Greg Walsh loves Christmas — with unabashed glee. 

What’s a new 2023 business that you’re particularly excited about?

I am excited about so many new businesses this year, but I’ll highlight Our Bar, which started as a pop-up bar at Elĕva Café (7 Bell Slip), and recently took over ownership of the coffeeshop. Our Bar’s festive takeover of the space for the month of December was so fun. The entire space was decked out in green with a Grinch theme, and my heart grew three sizes after seeing it. (I’m a huge Dr. Seuss fan.) I liked Elĕva, but in Greenpoint, we have a lot of good coffee. We need more places like Our Bar that are not embarrassed to be silly. Our Bar’s Grinchmas takeover emanates a child-like joy, and I’m here for it.

What was the best thing you ate in the neighborhood?

The Drunken Gabi at Baba Cool

Williamsburg’s Baba Cool (47 Withers St.) has a very chill vibe, a cozy backyard, and a cool owner, Gabi Mann. I enjoyed all of the food at Baba Cool, but my favorite was one of the main dishes, the Drunken Gabi, which Mann named after herself. The Drunken Gabi is a nod to classic drunken noodles and consists of rice noodles, broccolini, cabbage, scallions, and sunflower seeds. The best part, hidden under the pile of noodles, is a green goddess pesto with basil, parsley, scallions, and tahini, which adds a burst of flavor to the bowl. The Drunken Gabi is the last item on Baba Cool’s dinner menu with a description that just doesn’t do it justice. It’s excellent, unexpected and healthy. I tried it a few months ago over the summer and am still thinking about it.

The Sawara at Shota

Williamsburg’s Shota Omakase (50 South 3rd St.) opened this year with an 18-course tasting menu and impeccable attention to detail. Although every omakase course at Shota shined, especially the nigiri, the third course of sawara, or seared Spanish mackerel, stood out as my favorite. The impossibly fresh mackerel is paired with a bright citrus miso sauce, pickled cucumber, and Japanese Hanaho flowers. Shota is a splurge. But, if you’re looking for an impressive omakase feast, this is where to go.

The Pappardelle Bolognese and Short Rib Ravioli at Naked Dog

All of the pastas at Greenpoint’s hidden gem, Naked Dog are fantastic, but I usually oscillate between two: the pappardelle bolognese and the short rib ravioli. The homemade pappardelle, paired with a grass-fed beef bolognese sauce, is my recommendation for those trying Naked Dog for the first time. It’s a classic dish that Naked Dog does very well.

For those looking for something slightly more unique, I suggest the homemade ravioli, filled with braised beef short rib and swimming in a sage butter sauce. Both pastas pair well with Naked Dog’s cavoletti, which are crispy Brussels sprouts with capers and anchovies in an unexpected and delightful Caesar Pecorino dressing.

What would you like to see in Greenpoint in 2024?

Greenpoint’s restaurant and bar scene is blowing up right now. We even have our own Restaurant Row!

I’m very excited about this renaissance, but I’d like to see more affordable spots like The Mallard Drake (43 Franklin St.), which opened this past February. 

The bar’s owner, Tony Petillo, calls it a “cheap beer and shot joint” with low-key vibes and free pool. It’s a casual and fun watering hole that everyone can enjoy.

Tony Petillo ready to welcome guests at The Mallard Drake. Photo: Julia Moak

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