While Greenpoint is still a bastion of Polish food, community, and culture, there was a time when pierogi purveyors were more ubiquitous than banks and drug stores, longtime neighborhood resident Richard Humann recalls. In the 1980s, the large population of single Polish men working for the American dollar made for a pierogi paradise, with bare-bones cafeterias selling the dumplings for cents at seemingly every street corner. The combination of gentrification and more opportunities to make money following the fall of communism led to the departure of many of the Polish men and the resultant closure of many pierogi vendors.
In 2018, there’s still cause for indecision when picking a pierogi spot in Greenpoint, even if the dumplings today are a bit pricier and a bit more infrequent. Below, a guide to the best local pierogis.
Opened by Krakow native and restaurant namesake Krystyna Dura in 1993, Christina’s is known for its no-frills food in a charming, but tacky diner-like space. The table service is speedy and the plates will reliably fill you up faster than you think. Sour cream will cost you 50 cents extra.
While the pierogi options at Karczma are limited, what they do have delivers. The waitresses are all dressed in traditional outfits or school uniforms and the restaurant itself feels from another era. The borscht bread bowl isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s worth a second trip back to experience it.
The pierogi here qualify more for their price and location than quality, although they’re certainly tasty too. In the back of Krajan, a Polish bodega of sorts, fridges sit full of soup, milk, meat and boxes of pierogi, $8.99 for 12, meat or cheese. Nab some cow caramels on your way out: a medium-sized bag filled with them will run you just $2.99.
Commonly known as some variation of “The Knights” due to the armored figures guarding its entrance and the hard to pronounce name, Krolewskie Jadlo is a neighborhood landmark. It earned this status not only through its memorable front but also its authentic atmosphere, hearty food, and warm environment.
The name and homey but chic decor make Polka Dot seem a bit out of place with the neighborhood’s food scene at first glance. A look at the prices and offerings will show you otherwise. If you’ve got room post pierogi, try the zucchini pancakes – like a lighter latka.
This cafeteria-style eatery hasn’t been updated in decades, prices included. The atmosphere alone is worth a visit. Don’t get too comfortable while you wait for your order – it’ll be called out in Polish when its ready for pickup at the counter.
If you like raw fish, salads, and the kind of sweetgreen experience that let’s you pick and choose your ingredients, we have some good news for you: We have our first poke bowl joint in the hood.
Greenpoint is a little late in the fad, and sure it’s probably your run-of-the-mill trendy version of the traditional Hawaiian dish but a new set of friendly faces braving the risks of brick and mortar food small business ownership is welcome over another empty storefront.
Give Poké Zest (629 Manhattan Ave) a shot and tell us what you think.
Last week Andrew Balducci, the man who built Balducci’s into the premier produce store in the city, died at ninety-two years of age. Balducci achieved his fame and fortune in Manhattan, but his family story starts here in Greenpoint in 1918 when a poor immigrant from Bari, Italy rented a pushcart in the neighborhood. Andy’s father Louis Balducci spoke little English and earned just five dollars a week working long days. He would travel to wholesale markets at dawn and buy fruits and vegetables, which he then peddled on local streets. The work was grueling and during the cold winters and on rainy days Louis must have longed for the warmth of the Italian sun. Peddlers like Louis were looked down on and were considered a nuisance. Already by 1904 there were attempts to license them and control their movements.
In 1925, Louis’s son Andrew was born in Greenpoint, but only two months later the family returned to Italy where Andrew stayed for fourteen years. Andrew returned to Brooklyn in 1939 and when World War II broke out he joined the Navy and was wounded in the Normandy landings. At the end of the war Andy joined his father in the grocery business. A family business from the start, Louis worked with his wife and daughter Grace, as well as a young family friend from Italy, Joe Doria. Grace married Joe in the late 1950’s and he became a partner in the original Balducci’s. The family worked around the clock, seven days a week, including holidays, to build Balducci’s into the finest produce market in the city.
They opened the first family store on Manhattan Avenue near St. Anthony of Padua church where they sold not only produce, but also fish and meat. One of my neighbors remembers his father’s heated conversations with Louis in Italian.
The business began to thrive. They soon bought a truck to deliver ice and they opened a fruit and vegetable stand in Greenwich Village, which quickly became popular with discerning locals. In 1952, Andrew married Nina D’Amelio who quickly became part of the business. Sometime in the middle 1950s they closed their store in Greenpoint and concentrated on Manhattan retail.
In 1972, they opened a storefront at 6th Avenue and West 9th St where they would become a New York institution. The store began to change the tastes of New Yorkers. Food critic and author Julia della Croce said “Andy and Nina really taught New York how to eat and cook genuine Italian food at a time when it was perceived as little more than pizza and pasta covered with red sauce and gooey cheese,” “Theirs,” she said, “was a place where for the first time, New Yorkers found authentic Italian cooking and could buy the ingredients they would need to make it at home.” Manhattan’s best chefs flocked to the store and its fame grew.
By 1999, the business was so famous and profitable that an investment group bought it up and Balduccis made 130 Million dollars that year. In 2003, the original Greenwich Village store closed marking the end of an era. Balduccis soon became a corporation with franchises around the country.
Balducci’s became synonymous with gourmet food and became the first market in the city to combine all the products of a butcher, fishmonger, delicatessen and greengrocer in one store. Gourmet stores all around the country have since modeled themselves on Balduccis. Food writer James Beard, a regular customer said that Balducci’s always sold “the best of the best, at the right price.” However, few of the devoted shoppers in Balducci’s knew that the roots of Manhattan’s most elegant gourmet food emporium reached back to a poor Italian immigrant. When Louis Balducci began pushing a cart through the streets of Greenpoint he could never have imagined that his family would grow rich and they would build the business into an empire.
Dining out in Brooklyn is a belly’s dream; unfortunately, it’s also a bank account’s worst nightmare. A free new app, Spotluck, remedies this issue with a wheel of discounts offering as much as 35% off every meal! Spotluck has partnered with 100 of Brooklyn’s best locally-owned restaurants and over 400 in New York.
Here are just a few of the best restaurants you can save at with Spotluck:
Arguably, food and comfort are two of life’s finest pleasures. This makes Slick Willie another one! Willies is so cozy that it’s known to locals as ‘the living room’ and their menu matches up. Offerings represent the diversity of Brooklyn from tempura-style Kansas City BBQ ribs to chorizo-hash eggs benedict over Johnny cakes. Continue reading →
The festival not only tastes great, it supports a great cause. TASTE Williamsburg Greenpoint is produced by The Firehouse North Brooklyn Community Center (formerly known as Northside Town Hall), an organization “working to renovate and operate the former Engine Co. 212 Firehouse for Community activity. The Firehouse will provide a permanent home to neighborhood social justice organizations for continued advocacy and direct services to Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The Firehouse fosters civic and cultural engagement with original arts programming and community gatherings.” Other community organizations, like North Brooklyn Angles, a coalition of neighbors helping neighbors fight food and housing insecurity, and Billion Oyster Project, a harbor restoration and citizen science organization, also made it to the fest.
As the festival got underway amid sunny skies, live music and games, booze was flowing and bites were flying off the shelf. Some restaurants even ran out of food before the festival was over. Scroll down for a look at some of the fabulous food, drink, and local purveyors in attendance!
Greenpoint funhouse and art Deco digs of Brooklyn Bazaar’s (150 Greenpoint Ave) newest incarnation is proud to host Chef Quino Baca’s Brooklyn Star outpost – turning out hangover-friendly takes on Southern comfort staples, with desserts by local bakers. Aprés brunch activities include blacklight minigolf, arcade, ping-pong, karaoke, local merchant market, and shows in the music venue room, making it a Sunday funday for all ages.
The playful menu from The Brooklyn Star showcases clever takes on Southern and Southwest-inspired favorites (Chicken and Waffles get a drizzle of “hot honey;” French Toast Sticks are a luscious version of street-hawker churros) and gives a new reason for New Yorkers of all ages “to come out and stay” on a Sunday: to eat, shop and play!
After brunch, patrons can find themselves upstairs catching a show or other scheduled program in the historically reimagined Music Venue, already lauded as the best room of its size in Brooklyn. Dinner service resumes at 6PM, with Sunday game specials on the flat screen TV’s in the Dining Hall. Dinner service hours weekly are from 6PM – 10PM Tuesday through Sunday. Continue reading →
Toro Ironworks is ringing in the spring with some additions to the menu, which will offer a new draw for vegetarians and carnivores alike.
The Taqueria, whose customers had asked for more vegetarian options, is now offering jackfruit tacos. Owner Sebouh Yegparian said he wanted to offer something for the more adventurous diners. Continue reading →
Owner Cecilia Di Paola is a wonderful, welcoming host and the kind of person you want to sit at the bar and chat with. Pop in to say hello to our new(ish) neighbor and dine in the beautifully-decorated, light-filled space this weekend.
“I get excited every time I drive in – I love it here, and I’m excited to build relationships here,” Danny Laniado, retail project manager at JUS by Julie, commented as he surveyed his shop’s construction.
At the corner of Nassau and Manhattan, JUS by Julie is building its fourth Brooklyn location. “All this was supposed to be a Starbucks,” Laniado continues. “[but] I woke up one morning and I said, ‘this might be something.’ Next stop: Greenpoint.” Continue reading →
Archestratus, the food bookstore and cafe on Huron Street, has been open for a few months now. We last updated you upon its opening in October 2015, so we thought it was time to pop into the store for a chat with owner Paige Lipari, who has exciting new plans for Greenpoint.