Category Archives: Brooklyn

Blue Collar Hamburgers

I have to say, the simplicity and perfection of this burger blew me away. My photos suck, because I had to use a flash and didn’t have my light, but I really loved this. Nice regular patty – I’m so tired of smash burgers being everywhere now. Crisp texture on that patty! Great cheese coverage. Perfect soft bun. My only gripe was that the tomato was cut a bit thick.

I also got a hot dog – they’re split-griddled. PERFECT!

I will definitely be back here again.

BLUE COLLAR HAMBURGERS
160 Havemeyer St
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Chef Katsu Brooklyn

This place is great. Some of the guys from the NYC Zooz Club and I hit this spot after riding around for a bit. Their curry sauce covered fried chicken thigh sandwiches are amazing.

I got mine with cheese. It was perfect, and the fries were bangin’ too.

Get over here and try this place. I’ll definitely be back for sure. Also, if you want to see some video of our bike gang ride from the day, check out the below:

CHEF KATSU BROOKLYN
143 Greene Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Misi

Misi is an Italian joint in Williamsburg that serves up some great pasta and an even better porterhouse steak.

Cocktails are really nice, like this negroni sour:

For starters, we did the whipped ricotta with roasted peppers, and the baby artichokes. Both were light and refreshing, but if I had to choose a favorite it would be the artichokes.

Next up was the pasta. We did a lamb ragu citarra as well as a brown butter tortelli stuffed with spinach and ricotta. Normally, I would gravitate toward that lamb ragu, but the tortelli were the winner between the two excellent pastas.

The dry aged porterhouse was awesome.

It was cooked to a nice medium rare and dusted with fennel pollen and rosemary.

The seasoning on it was definitely in the cumin/curry wheelhouse, which was a really nice change of pace.

It came with a side of giganto beans that were really bright and flavorful. Perfectly cooked.

But this steak was an easy 8/10, and I would definitely come back again to try more of the menu.

MISI
329 Kent Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Koko Ramen and Manchego

This joint has two names and serves two types of cuisine: Manchego serves tapas, and Koko serves ramen. My wife and I tried a couple of items from each menu.

TAPAS

The octopus was awesome. Perfectly cooked, nicely seasoned.

The calamari was meh. A little dried out.

RAMEN

The ramen was pretty good. Not among the top tier, but good enough that if I was ever in the area again, I’d go back to try the tonkotsu. The main reason I tried their spicy chicken miso ramen was because the menu said their tonkotsu was also chicken based broth, but with char siu pork in it. I was confused, and didn’t feel like asking questions since the service was crazy slow (they were slammed).

The salmon ramen was light. It was a shio style chicken based broth.

MANCHEGO / KOKO RAMEN
375 Marlborough Rd
Brooklyn, NY 11226

Defonte’s

I finally got over to Defonte’s to try some sandwiches. My buddy Nick and I rode over on our Zooz bikes. It took us 10 or 15 minutes from downtown Manhattan – a trip that would otherwise take a half hour and cost an arm and a leg in cab or Uber fees.

These things really are the best way to get around the boros, especially for food crawls! If you want one, get one with my coupon code JOHNNYPRIME for $100 off at THIS WEBSITE.

Anyway, we started with the hot roast beef dip sandwich that’s topped with fried eggplant and fresh house made mozz. Awesome!

Next up was the Italian special, which is a cold sandwich that features a variety of Italian meats, along with some spicy bomba sauce, lettuce, tomato and dressing. This was the big winner for me.

I’ll be back here for sure, especially to try the roast pork sandwiches, and something chock full of mortadella.

DEFONTE’S
379 Columbia St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Brooklyn Roots Italian

One of the great things to come out of the pandemic is Brooklyn Roots. Chef Thomas Perrone struck out on his own despite all of the fears and warnings. It started out as pick up and delivery only, but now he’s running a full-fledged old school Italian restaurant in the heart of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The atmosphere, the food, the smells… it’ll take you back. Nearly everything on the menu is under $30, and the portion sizes are triple what you see at other Italian joints. And this isn’t a typical red-sauce joint where you leave thinking that you could’ve made the food at home. This stuff is all done with top notch cooking technique, and high quality ingredients.

My wife and I went big, because we knew we wanted to try everything we could and bring a bunch of stuff home for the weekend. We started with the octopus and fried zucchini to start.

The zucchini was light, fried to a perfect golden crisp, and served with a bright marinara dipping sauce. The octopus was perfectly tender, and served in an amazing pesto. Definitely get these items when you go.

For the pasta dishes, we tried the “Matty Guns” special, who happens to be an actual person – he was there in the restaurant when we went. Baked rigatoni in a vodka sauce, topped with ricotta, melted mozzarella and basil. But lurking under the broiled cheese is a delicious collection of meats: sweet and hot Italian sausage, and meatballs. Amazing. Again – at $29 the portion size can feed two people for two days.

The next pasta was the linguine with corn and shrimp.

This was markedly lighter, but great for a summer pasta dish. Tons of great flavor coming in from the light tomato and garlic wine sauce.

For our entrees, we went with chicken and veal. For the chicken, we did the scarpariello preparation, with sausage, vinegar cherry peppers and potatoes. This took me back to when my mom used to make a similar dish with pork chops.

We did the veal parm. I was tempted to do milanese, but maybe next time.

This was such a great deal. Two cutlets fried to a perfect crisp and covered with sauce and cheese. Just awesome.

ENHANCE! Incredible.

We came with a huge appetite and still had no room for dessert – and we took home tons of leftovers. But from the looks of people around us, the dessert was great. I can’t wait to go back and try more.

BROOKLYN ROOTS ITALIAN
4601 4th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11220

Red Hook Tavern

Red Hook Tavern is the recently opened endeavor of famed BBQ pit master Billy Durney, of Hometown BBQ. After mastering regional BBQ, he decided to take on the iconic old school NYC tavern style joint – typically featuring dimly lit wood grain interiors, a great selection of beer, wine and cocktails, a champion burger and a beefy chop or two. Think Minetta Tavern, Chumley’s or even McSorley’s. The outside even kinda pays tribute to Minetta Tavern. Similar font, coloring and shades drawn:

So did Durney achieve that iconic goal? In short, yes. There are some BIG hits here, but there are also some misses as well. Let me get into it so you know what to get and what to avoid.

We shared four starters among four people. We ordered the corn and nduja salad with radicchio cups, the wedge salad with bacon, the chicken liver pate, and the charcuterie board.

The corn and nduja was good, but it wasn’t as spicy as I had expected. In addition, the radicchio cups added a little too much bitterness into the dish. Maybe swapping out for some Bibb would be better.

The big hit for me among the starters was the wedge salad. It comes with a nicely cooked slab of Nueske’s bacon, and a surprisingly fresh pop of dill throughout. This is definitely big enough to share, so get this and share with another.

The charcuterie board was delicious, featuring lomo (my favorite – dry cured pork loin), salami and venison salami, along with a nice fresh slaw to cut the fat. I just wish there was more of everything.

The chicken liver pate was smooth, creamy and delicious. I could have easily crushed this by myself, which is what I recommend that you do. The only issue with that was that the toast was very dry and brittle. That bread needs an upgrade.

We shared four different entrees. We did the pan roasted half chicken, the 45-day dry aged strip steak, the grilled head-on spot prawns and, of course, the burger (we did two of those).

The prawns were overcooked, unfortunately, and that delicious chili, lemon and garlic sauce didn’t really get into the flesh, rendering them kind of bland unless you really dragged them through the sauce. The heads were delicious though. They come three to an order, but the waiter Ryan was awesome and asked if we wanted four pieces so that we could all get one. That’s the kind of service people will remember. Bravo, Ryan.

The Pat LaFrieda steak was very tender, nicely cooked, and had a great crust on it.

The addition of that finishing salt was essential, because it was otherwise just kind of bland in flavor. It didn’t have much punch or character to it, and certainly not much dry-aged flavor. 7/10.

One good thing about the steak is that for $49 it also comes with creamed spinach. I really liked this spinach. Finely chopped, not too creamy.

The chicken was better than both of the above entree items. It came with mashed potatoes and gravy, which was a nice touch, for just $28. The meat was juicy and tender, and the skin was crisp and well-seasoned. Get this!

But the star of the meal was this incredible burger.

Look at how perfectly cooked it is inside:

It comes with three perfectly crisped and seasoned potato wedges, and a half-sour pickle spear.

If you’re not into onions, you can remove yours from the bottom (the burger comes out sitting on top of an onion core slice). I generally don’t love raw onion on my burger, but this onion is somewhat steamed and softened, that way you don’t get that insane vaporous bite that destroys your mouth for two days. It also catches any juices that come out of the burger, making it a perfect flavor sponge that protects the bottom bun from sogging up.

It may look simple and pedestrian, but the bun is brought in fresh from a special bakery; the patty is a great mix of lean and fatty beef cuts that sport a really nice dry-aged flavor; the cheese is perfectly melted down the sides of the burger to create a lovely drape of full coverage – you never want for that melty American goodness; and the maillard sear on the outside even has a nice crunch to it for some texture. What a masterpiece. This might be a new favorite, especially at $22. While I generally prefer fries, the wedges were definitely good. I kinda wanted a couple more though.

The prices here aren’t too bad either.

I highly recommend this place. It’s tough to get a reservation, but if you get there early (or late, for that matter) you can probably score a seat at the bar pretty quickly.

RED HOOK TAVERN
329 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Pizza Loves Emily

Quick review here. My wife and I finally tried this hyped up spot after a few drinks nearby. First we tried Nguyen’s’ Hot Wings (Korean flavors with a Vietnamese name):

These were pretty good. Crisp outside, tender inside, and I like the fact that they serve you the whole wing. The sauce was nice too.

We also tried the colony pie, which has mozz, tomato sauce, pickled jalapeños, pepperoni and honey.

This was really flavorful. Overpriced for a small pie at $22, but the dough was thin, crisp and cooked nicely. I bet their square version “Detroit” style is better at their other locations.

PIZZA LOVES EMILY
919 Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Jimmy’s Diner

This is a great addition to your fried food rotation. I walked by Jimmy’s Diner before a filming gig and had to try the joint based on looks alone.

Turned out to be a great choice. This “Lucky Schmidt” sandwich was awesome. Fried chicken fingers, melted swiss, bacon, jalapenos, chipotle mayo and pickles on a potato bun. Great crispy fries too. Go give it a shot!

JIMMY’S DINER
577 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Di An Di

My wife and I went here with another couple, since we had been hearing such great things about the food.

We started with some nice cocktails. My favorite was the mezcal cocktail “smoke between your thighs.”

The best bite of the night, for me, was probably this take on a summer roll.

There’s BBQ pork inside, but also a crunchy turmeric crepe (banh xeo) for texture. Fresh herbs, veg and rice noodles inside round this out to a perfectly balanced starter.

Next up was fried pig tails.

These were great little morsels of deliciousness. The acidic pickles on top cut the fat perfectly.

Now on to the noodles. First, the dry chicken noodles. These were my favorite of the three we tried.

Very aromatic and spicy from the curry leaves and crispy onions. Awesome.

The soups were a bit of alet down, however. The pho was underwhelming, and the bun bo hue was just too light and lacked the meaty and spicy flavors to which I am accustomed.

The bun cha was nice. These are pork meatballs wrapped in spinach and served in a sweet and spicy garlic and fish sauce broth, which you eat with rice noodles.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to come back, but if you stick to the apps and those dry noodles, you’ll be a happy customer.

DI AN DI
68 Greenpoint Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222