About a year ago, I wrote a story for Greenpointers about a Brooklyn Italian-American girl who fell in love with a captured Italian soldier during World War II while he was incarcerated at a prisoner of war camp at Dupont and Franklin Streets. I did not have many of the details to this unique love story and thought that I would never learn the complete story of the romance. Amazingly, however, that woman, ninety-one-year old Carmela DiLieto, is still alive in Los Angeles, California and she told me by telephone the story of her romance with, and marriage to, Giuseppe DiLieto from Torre Del Greco near Mount Vesuvius, not far from Naples. Sadly, this love story with a romantic start did not finish with a happy ending. Continue reading
Echoes of the Cozy Royale catering hall can still be heard in the warm dining room in the back of the bar at Humboldt & Jackson (434 Humboldt Street). The Royale’s former owner, Joanne Perrotta, had turned down many other offers when she was looking to retire. For years, families and neighbors gathered for dinners there, and Perrotta wished to pass on that sense of community along with the space. Perrotta cared more about who was going to take the place over rather than what it was going to be.
The first time I set foot in Humboldt & Jackson was the very day it opened. I followed the renovation of the Cozy Royale into this place, a newly-titled “American Tasting Room,” step-by-step on my daily walk to the Graham Avenue L train and was thrilled to have a prospective place to call my own—my Cheers, if you will. I would cement my status by getting in right at the beginning. Over the three years since their opening I realized that the feeling of ownership and comfort that I felt is exactly what Bill Reed, the bar’s charismatic owner, wants for all his guests. Continue reading
Bamonte’s Restaurant is not only the oldest restaurant in North Brooklyn; founded in 1900 by Italian immigrant Pasquale Bamonte, the restaurant claims to be the oldest Italian eatery in all of New York city. It was founded at a time when southern Greenpoint was a mecca for Italian immigrants. The restaurant has been run by the Bamonte family for four generations. It’s off the main drag, so you may have a hard time finding where the restaurant’s located—at 32 Withers Street—but it’s definitely worth the trip.
If you have lived in North Brooklyn for any amount of time and have never seen the Giglio—you don’t know what you are missing. This celebration of Italian culture is one of the most awesome pieces of street theater you will ever witness. Continue reading
One of the things I did while researching my local history book Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past was talking to as many Greenpoint seniors as I could. They have repeatedly told me a story I cannot document, but must be true—Greenpoint hosted an Italian prisoner of war camp during the second World War.
Other Greenpoint amateur historians doubt the existence of the camp and say simply, “Prove it.” I can’t, although I have searched extensively. If, on the one hand I cannot document the existence of the camp, then, on the other hand we cannot dismiss the memories of a dozen older Greenpointers either.
The camp was at Dupont Street and Franklin where the Greenpoint Playground is today. Old timers recall guards, a wire fence and barges where the hundreds of Italians lived. One of the seniors commented to me, “They may have been prisoners, but they had a million dollar view of the New York skyline.” Continue reading
“Sotto casa” is an Italian idiom that translates roughly to something like, “below the house” or “on your doorstep”; in English the closest phrase we have might be something like “just around the corner.” Italians Laura and Luca Arrigoni opened their first Sottocasa pizza restaurant in Boerum Hill quite literally “below the house”—it’s situated on the ground floor of an old residential building. But the pair were in love with more than the literal meaning of the name. They wanted Sottocasa to become a neighborhood joint just around the corner: an inclusive, homey space where everyone feels welcome. Continue reading
Puffer jackets at the ready…this week’s gonna be a chill one with temperatures rumored to be dropping down to the 30’s by midweek. Brrrrrr. Fortunately our favorite neighborhood Italian Adelina’s has added some excellent new dishes recently and they are exactly the kind of thing we want to be eating on a cold winter night, washed down with a nice glass of red from one of the many wine casks that line the walls of the restaurant.
Here’s what we tried and LOVED when we visited at the weekend: Continue reading
In a neighborhood largely under occupation by the Haslegrave brothers, we walked into new bar and restaurant Le Fanfare to the pleasant surprise that it wasn’t another one of theirs. The design of the space is comfortable and coherent, from the sharply-painted facade to the sequin-lined stage. Attention to detail pervades everything; the printing on each page of the menu lines up perfectly with the stenciled text on the board holding it, for example. This careful attention to detail appears throughout the restaurant: ingredients, furnishing, music, and even the staff have been chosen and integrated carefully by people who realize that it only takes one cut corner to cheapen the whole experience.
Our night at Le Fanfare (1103 Manhattan Ave) began at the small round bar up front, where we were warmly welcomed by an easygoing and friendly staff. The cocktail list is short and classic, with drinks around $11, and the bar is comfortable and pleasantly backlit by a clouded mirror studded with star-like lights. I sometimes find that I mentally rank spaces like these by how badly they make me wish I could still spend long nights smoking inside at them, and this bar gets pretty high marks there. Continue reading
It’s January, the long weekend is almost over, and the
vortex cold-spell is returning. Sometimes the only thing that will bring light to these dark days is the promise of a warm plate of glossy pasta and a glass of good red wine.
Food lovers of Greenpoint! Only three weeks in and 2014 is already looking to be the year of the eatery. A whole host of new cafes and restaurants are popping up on our fine, frosty streets and whilst some are still hanging their awnings and smoothing down the plasterwork, others have already flung open their doors to beckon us in. Continue reading