Where to Eat in Brooklyn
Chefs Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo had worked in fancy restaurants since their teens; in 2004, in their forties, they opened the casual Frankies Spuntino 457 in Carroll Gardens, serving the Italian-American dishes of their childhoods in Queens like spaghetti with garlic and juicy clams.
Vinegar Hill House
In this 40-seat restaurant named after the neighborhood just north of Dumbo, chef-partner Jean Adamson cooks most of her seasonal American comfort food dishes, like a pork belly–and–collard green tart, out of a wood-fired oven. Inspired by Vinegar Hill's industrial heyday in the 1800s, co-owner and designer Sam Buffa uses bleacher boards for banquettes and cast-iron shelf brackets.
Diner/Marlow & Sons/Roman's
Mark Firth and Andrew Tarlow's culinary empire began in 1998, when they opened Diner in a renovated 1920s Kullman Diner car near the Williamsburg Bridge. Then came the adjacent Marlow & Sons, a dining room known as much for its selection of East Coast oysters as for its hidden entrance through a general store. In 2009, the duo debuted Roman's in Fort Greene, with dishes like meaty, Bolognese-topped tagliatelle.
According to conflicting Brooklyn lore, the mile-long strait between Brooklyn and Governors Island called Buttermilk Channel had tidal currents so strong it churned the milk dairy farmers took across into butter—or so low that cows would walk across it. The two legends inspired this Carroll Gardens restaurant, where chef Ryan Angulo prepares comfort food dishes like the namesake buttermilk fried chicken served with cheddar waffles.
Cooking at Manhattan's BLT Fish would not seem like the first step toward making great pizza. But Mathieu Palombino found that he liked specializing in one kind of food. And he loved pizza. So he traveled from Italy to California, tasting pies and perfecting a bready, well-salted crust for Motorino in Williamsburg and for a second outpost in the East Village.
This hipster hangout has the requisite industrial setting (it's in an old garage in Bushwick) and the irreverent flourish (there's an army green military tent out back). It also has exquisite pies like the Crispy Glover, topped with guanciale and breadcrumbs, along with excellent plates like the juicy lamb breast.
Al di Là
Husband-and-wife team Emiliano Coppa and Anna Klinger opened Al di Là on Park Slope's Fifth Avenue in 1998—long before the stretch became dotted with restaurants. Over a decade later, Brooklyn newcomers still brave the long waits for Northern Italian dishes like the now infamous braised rabbit with black olives and polenta.
The Four Horsemen
This Williamsburg wine bar has a cool-kid pedigree: It’s owned by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. Chef Nick Curtola's food skews Italian and Iberian, with snacks like escabeche-style olives and substantial plates such as rich tajarin pasta with rock shrimp and chiles.
The eponymous Paul Giannone channeled his life-long pizza obsession into this popular Greenpoint spot. The expansive list of creative pies includes the fan-favorite Hellboy, topped with pools of fresh mozzarella, soppressata picante, a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano and a finishing drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey. Meatless diners take heart: vegan options emerge from the massive wood-fired oven too.
One of New York City’s best dim sum experiences can be had at this sprawling gem in the heart of Brooklyn’s bustling Chinatown. Flag down the roving carts and cobble together your own sumptuous Cantonese spread.
Husband and wife team Noah and Rae Bernamoff breathed new life into the Jewish deli canon when they opened this ode to the smoked meat meccas of Montreal. Find comfort in soothing matzo ball soup or try a more outré creation, like the smoked duck grilled cheese with maple glaze, cheddar and a fried egg.
Chef and owner Rawia Bishara exalts the flavors of her native Nazareth at this Bay Ridge Middle Eastern destination. Don’t miss her baked Mediterranean eggplant or the knafeh dessert—sweet, stretchy cheese encased in crunchy shredded fillo dough and soaked in orange blossom water.
Prepare to wait your turn at this unassuming Williamsburg steakhouse, where everything from beef and Berkshire bacon to sardines and hunks of fennel get an expert char on the grill.
Chef Missy Robbins nails the sweet spot between sleek and homey at her Williamsburg noodle mecca. Diners line up for masterful pastas, like a cacio e pepe that swaps pink peppercorns for the traditional black. Don’t miss out on the rest of the menu—the spiced lamb leg steak is one of the borough’s best meaty entrees.
With its warm, inviting vibe you might confuse this Prospect Heights restaurant for just another neighborhood hang. But the seasonal, ingredient-driven menu is in a class of its own. Chef-owner Greg Baxtrom makes fine dining-level food that is also approachable and affordable, using ingredients pulled straight from a backyard garden.
Superstar chef and restaurateur Andrew Carmellini looks to Southern Italy for inspiration at this sexy Williamsburg project inside the William Vale Hotel—his first in Brooklyn. House-made pastas like spicy sea urchin spaghetti, wood-fired pizzas and a can’t-miss lamb mixed grill are the stars.
Emily and Emmy Squared
You'll never be sorry if you order a pizza at Emily, the original Clinton Hill restaurant from Emily Hyland and her husband Matt. But their not-so-secret weapon is the monumental Emmy Burger, made with dry-aged beef, with spicy buttery chile sauce and cheddar cheese on a pretzel bun. At their Williamsburg follow-up Emmy Squared, the focus is square pies that adhere to a Detroit-style orthodoxy: baked in a pan to achieve a crisp, almost fried cheesy crust, airy in the middle and finished with stripes of sauce after it emerges from the oven.
An epiphany at Louie Mueller BBQ in Taylor, Texas is what led Billy Durney to a life of ‘cue. His South Brooklyn spot Hometown is as much a community center for Red Hook locals as it is a destination. Groups gather around large tables to dig into trays of pit-smoked meats like fat-ridged brisket, pulled pork and a Flinstonian beef rib big enough to feed a crowd. Grab a cold beer at the bar before joining the counter-service queue—there’s almost always a wait.
Husband-and-wife chefs Eder Montero and Alexandra Raij have a loyal following at their Manhattan tapas spots Txikito and El Quinto Pino. At their Brooklyn offshoot they celebrate the Jewish and Moorish influences in Spanish cookery, with dishes like cumin roasted lamb breast and Gibraltar-style grilled chicken hearts.
The team behind perennial favorite Maison Premiere bring their meticulous taste to the table at their Greenpoint project. The French walnut bar, brass fixtures, art Nouveau details and windows that open onto the street on balmy days all recall a grand European café. Chef Lisa Giffen offers bold continental fare like pot au feu and pig’s head confit to pair with selections from the thoughtful list of natural wines. Of course you should probably have a cocktail—the list, from cocktail crackerjack Will Elliott, is exceptional.
It’s hard to picture today, but in the 18th century, industrial Gowanus was mostly farmland surrounding a creek teeming with oyster beds. This neighborhood spot nods to the area’s agrarian roots, with a menu that celebrates specific growers. Look out for roasted quail with blue crab, lobster mushrooms and kabocha squash.
Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare
Chef Cesar Ramirez commands the kitchen counter at this Michelin-starred destination. His ever-changing seasonal tasting menu draws inspiration from Japanese and French traditions.