Reviews

Threes @ Franklin + Kent Extending Stay through Summer

Threes @ Franklin + Kent with food by Purslane

Thanks to a warm welcome from the neighborhood and the initial success of the pop-up, Threes Brewing is extending its stay in Greenpoint! The outpost will continue to occupy the former Cassette space at 113 Franklin Street (corner of Kent St.) at least through the summer.

Though I’d been hearing great things about the Gowanus brewery for a while before my first visit, it was a Luluc concert at Tiny Montgomery—the brewery’s versatile private dining room that doubles as an intimate concert venue—that inspired my first trip to the original Threes location. With a coffee shop by Ninth Street Espresso conducive to tackling some work before the show, my sense of the place was that it would lend itself nicely to spending the day and then enjoying food by one of the pop-ups featured at the time (its food is now exclusively by The Meat Hook) and beers with friends who joined for the show.

Now much of what I loved about that welcoming, experience-focused, “come hang” vibe is just down the block from me. Known for its frequent and interesting programming, Threes will bring more of the same to Threes @ Franklin + Kent with live music and other events starting in May. In the meantime, there will be DJs a few nights per week,  as well as a lineup of other breweries coming by each Wednesday (4/19 Industrial Arts; 4/26 KCBC; 5/3 Other Half; 5/10 LIC Beer Project; 5/17 Barrier Brewing; 5/24 Transmitter). Continue reading

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Pushed It To The Limit: The Pants-Splitting Black Tap Popup At Humboldt & Jackson

Humboldt & Jackson - Black Tap Sundaes
Cookies N Cream Supreme and The Cookie Shake

Ok, so the headline is a bit of a misdirect. A few years ago on a trip to Barcelona, after stuffing myself silly with salty cheeses, meats, olives and wine for a week I actually did split my pants—and with a sweatshirt tied around my waist, I had to make an emergency run to H&M to appropriately clothe myself. So before I headed to Humboldt & Jackson’s Black Tap takeover on Saturday it actually crossed my mind that all the calories might cause another trouser explosion—but thankfully my will, and my pants, held strong.

Humboldt & Jackson during the Black Tap Popup
Humboldt & Jackson during the Black Tap Popup

Humboldt and Jackson (434 Humboldt Street) has been delighting the neighborhood with popup chefs and restaurants since they opened their doors three years ago—so if you’re a foodie you can get in the know and impress your friends by following their Instagram, which is where they announce all their events. And on this occasion, they teamed up with Black Tap. In case you’ve been living under a pile of fancy foodstuffs (or you’re not a millenial), the restaurant is famous for their epic and Instagram-worthy #crazyshakes boasting lines that can get up to six hours long. It’s a next level burger and shake joint and on many tourists’ Manhattan-must-do lists. Continue reading

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The Québécois Finally Bring Us Poutine With The Gentry

The Gentry, Manhattan Ave, GreenpointA very warm Bienvenue, to The Gentry! This absolutely adorable French-Canadian inspired restaurant by Chef Gillian Clark is now open on Manhattan Avenue and we couldn’t be more excited. From the moment I stepped in, I realized that this is a place I will frequent often. The décor is a little Louis XIV, a little Lewis Carroll, and a dash of Brooklyn. Ornate gold mirrors of various shapes and sizes adorn the walls in a style that would make Pinterest users swoon and a cabinet is lined with a collection of teacups. The wooden tables are engraved with French scroll, adding a casual touch to the otherwise Baroque atmosphere. The sign out front proclaims that this is Montreal-style cuisine, and I smile with the knowledge that they have an entire menu page devoted to poutines.
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A Look at The New All-Day Cafe, One Bedford

All images courtesy of One Bedford

It wasn’t that shocking when Nights & Weekends closed in early March. The bar had always been the “cool” spot while occupying the triangle space of the Bedford/Nassau/Lorimer/McCarren intersection. But the crew parted ways with the owners of Five Leaves back in November, and it was destined to become something else. Thankfully, it wasn’t closed for long. One speedy renovation later, it’s now open as One Bedford. Not only is the interior redesigned, the restaurant now has a whole new day-long menu. Continue reading

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Fried Chicken Shows Its Healthful Side at Pretty Southern

“NEW FRIED CHICKEN JOINT ON MY BLOCK” read the text message accompanying a selfie of my friend in front of a pretty-in-pink menu posted in the window of 14 Bedford Avenue. Since that mid-December text, the opening of the new Five Leaves neighbor, Pretty Southern, was on my radar. A few weeks ago, also accompanied by my informant and two of our friends whose culinary opinions we highly value, I dug into that eagerly anticipated “healthful take on fried chicken and celebrated southern comfort fare.” Continue reading

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Find the Good Vibez at Achilles Heel

Golden hour at Achilles Heel  All Images: Achilles Heel/Instagram

It’s hard to attract people over to West Street. For one, it feels as if you’re in an active construction site—and on many of the blocks, you are. Second, you’re so far out of the heart of Greenpoint, in such desolation, it feels like a whole different neighborhood, or like how the neighborhood once was. Anyone who’s walked through this hushed territory at night has come upon the corner of West and Green and heard the mysterious revelry happening behind the screen door for Achilles Heel (180 West St). Continue reading

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The Piadine Reigns Supreme at Williamsburg’s Lella Alimentari

Photo © Kevin Irby
Photo © Kevin Irby

“With this finger, I tasted the world.” Massimiliano Nanni raises his right pointer finger while recounting his childhood in Rimini, Italy, where his mother, Lella Alimentari’s namesake, ran a popular restaurant. “I would sit at the counter of the kitchen and I taste the papaya, I taste the kiwi—nobody have a kiwi in Italy, I come from a place with the truffle—I eat the frog, I eat the eel, I eat the snake. We want to try everything. This was my childhood.”

Massimiliano Nanni © Kevin Irby

Nanni, known to friends as Chicco, met his wife, Paola Cittero while working on an Italian aquatic TV show. He was a diving assistant, she was the production designer. This is a funny detail given the strong Life Aquatic vibe in the café they’ve created. Between Nanni’s normally red cap (today it is pink) and quirky demeanor, Cittero’s blue jumpsuit and the vintage toys and uneven hand stamped signage, I can practically hear Seau Jorge strumming Bowie tunes.

owners of Lella Alimentari
“We are old friends. Sometimes your best friend becomes your husband.” Photo © Kevin Irby

Nanni’s been in the restaurant biz since 1995 when he opened Piadina in the West Village. In the intervening years, he’s opened many other restaurants, including the popular wood-fired pizza superstar Saraghina in Bed-Stuy, which Cittero designed and which feels like a big brother to the more intimate Lella (325 Manhattan Avenue). Nanni left Saraghina in 2011 and opened a now-shuttered seafood restaurant before hopping over to Williamsburg. The location was intentional, just across the street from PS 132 where Nanni and Cittero’s children go to school. After school, the kids hang out among the locals, many of whom are on laptops. “We don’t like to say we are chefs,” says Cittero, “we just cook. We’re cooking. We are both food lovers. I’m a production designer, an artist, we consider this our cafeteria. We are making food we usually make at home, that we give out to our kids.”

artwork made by Lella's owners' son.
“We dream about writing a book one day with all the drawings from my little boy, we like the name ‘The Cook, the Wife, and the Red Hat.’” Photo © Kevin Irby

Lella’s specialty is the piadina, a sort of Italian quesadilla that’s popular in Nanni’s hometown. Every day he makes the piadina bread, then stuffs it with ingredients like roasted seasonal veggies and stracchino, a luscious unripened Italian cheese. Nothing is fussy, just fresh ingredients prepared beautifully; a poached egg over cauliflower, bacon, and chickpeas. Potato leek soup with speck. Burrata with roasted beets and carrots. They also have homemade pastries, quiche, and salads, most often topped with a poached egg.

Eggs are poached or soft boiled, never fried. Photo © Kevin Irby

Lella’s vibe is laid back cool and playful. It is European-feeling and whimsical without a hint of pretension. Toy trucks huddle near a vase of yellow tulips. A battered metal crock overflows with potatoes. The tin ceilings are whitewashed, walls are lined with Italian goods, books, an old scale. Art magazines and vintage action figures are scattered about. Lella is warm and chummy, just four sun-drenched booths and a communal table.

Photo © Kevin Irby

One of my favorite design elements is the handy takeaway window. “We sell the coffee by the window and we get all the people with dogs,” says Cittero. “Bike. Stroller. For me, it was like decoration, but we get the dog community.”

Photo © Kevin Irby

Nanni is already dreaming of his next venture: to host a program training former convicts as pizzaiolos. He’s eyeing a location in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. “The Pizzaiolo was teaching to the penitentiary in my town. These men, what they went through, most of the time it’s really traumatic. They need to be working, working, working. They will learn fast. It will help them.”

Photo © Kevin Irby

“Art, food and a lot of love,” Cittero says as she glances at Nanni who is in the kitchen dancing to The Human League. “We keep busy.” She smiles and looks out the window. “And just look at this beautiful light.”

A patron on her laptop in one of four sunny booths. Photo © Kevin Irby

Lella Alimentari | 325 Manhattan Avenue
718-599-1986
Open 8am to 7pm every day

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The New Menu at Tørst is a Perfect Mix of Nordic & American

A new spread at Tørst  Image courtesy of Tørst

As 2016 came to an end, Michelin-starred Luksus shut its doors in the back room of Tørst (615 Manhattan Ave), adding to the pile of restaurant closings in our area. For a moment it seemed that Tørst would revert entirely to a Nordic beer bar with a few bites. But all hope is not lost, Chef Jesus “Chuy” Cervantes, who worked at Cosme before spending two years under Chef Burns at Luksus, was ready to over the food program at Tørst and bring it to the next level. A recent lunch—yes, Tørst is open for lunch—showed there are still many Nordic influences on the expanded menu along with some quite delectable bread, but now they also have excellent takes on regular bar food. Continue reading

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Inside the Limited Time Pop-Up, Threes @ Franklin & Kent

Threes @ Franklin & Kent Image: Threes Brewing/Instagram

Everyone is discussing all the restaurant closings happening along the Franklin Street corridor. Hail Mary’s shutter this past weekend was just the latest, but this has been happening since before the holidays aka the time of year many restaurants are able to get into the black. There are a multitude of reasons why this is occurring, most of them not really within our control. The bright side of this predicament is it allows new spots to open up and for new neighborhood faces to try to win us over. One such example is the limited time only Threes Brewing pop-up in the old Cassette space (113 Franklin St.). Continue reading

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Llama Inn and Out of This World, Brooklyn’s Best Peruvian

Beets, Muna, Goat Cheese, Gooseberry, Cancha Photo by Desirée Flores

The triangular East Williamsburg restaurant sits along the BQE (not so picturesque) but once through the wide wood doors of Llama Inn (50 Withers St), the wrap around windows, hanging garden and welcoming bar will make the location escape you. Just named one of the Top New York restaurants of 2016 by The New York Times and honored with Michelin Bib Gourmand status, this just year-old restaurant is making its mark beyond Brooklyn and putting this overlooked corner on the map. Continue reading

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