Category Archives: Brooklyn

Lioni

Lioni is a famous place in Bensonhurst for sandwiches, mozzarella, and generally any Italian food specialties.

My wife and I stopped in here on the recommendation of a friend who grew up across the street. We ordered two sandwiches:

The Sophia Loren (#12) was made with prosciutto, fresh Lioni mozzarella, stuffed sweet peppers, lettuce, olive oil, salt and pepper.

This thing was awesome. At $16 and over a foot long it can feed two people with ease. The bread was superb, and the meat quality was awesome – no stringy bits, which is sometimes common with average, run of the mill prosciutto. They only use the good stuff here.

The other sandwich was one I concocted myself – generally a no-no in here as they like you to order by number (they have about 300 different sandwiches on the menu). It was bresaola, banana peppers and provolone.

The bresaola was incredible. This one cost $19 and that’s because the bresaola was so top notch. I’ve never had better. The sandwich, however, needed some kind of sauce or hydrating ingredient. I added a spicy honey at home and that seemed to do the trick nicely.

I highly recommend this deli. Great sandwiches!

LIONI
7803 15th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11228

Fette Sau

I finally made it back here after years of cravings. The first time I came was well before I started writing about food, so I was long overdue. On this trip, I made sure to get a little bit of everything. This platter ran me $143 (a bit pricey):

So lets start clockwise from the top right on this next pic:

Pulled Pork: This was fantastic. One of my favorites of the platter. There was a good crusty bark on the meat, and the flavor was juicy without being sauced. Some of the best pulled pork I’ve had.

Hot Links: This was my favorite of the meal. For some reason I gravitate towards hot links and sausage at BBQ joints. No idea why. They are always just really satisfying.

Brisket: A bit dry, but still very flavorful. I would skip this unless you are an absolute brisket fiend. I find Jewish style brisket like pastrami, or even Irish style corned beef, to be more flavorful and juicy than the often dry brisket we see at NYC BBQ joints.

Sirloin: This was overpriced at $38pp but it was a nice new take on BBQ cuts. The cook temp was perfect.

Half Sour Pickles: A great way to cut the fat. These were nice.

German Potato Salad: This was a great side too. A little vinegar to cut that richness of the meat goes a long way.

Baked Beans: These were excellent, as they were packed with bits of bacon and burnt ends. If beans are your thing, this is the way to go here.

Bacon Burnt Ends: This was delicious. Last time I came here they were all out, so I was itching to try these. Essentially it is like sticky, savory and sweet chunks of bacon or pork belly, rendered out nicely without drying or burning. Not too distinguishable from some bacon products you can make at home in a pan though. Good to try once.

Pork Ribs: These were just okay. The one I had contained too much fat. Not a bad thing, but I was hoping for more meat on the bone. Essentially it was a big bone with a little bit of muscle and a lot of fat. Flavor was okay. I’ve had better.

Definitely looking forward to a return trip here where I can focus on my favorite items of the day, like the pulled pork and the links.

FETTE SAU
354 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Di Fara Pizza

Di Fara Pizza is known for being one of NYC’s (specifically Brooklyn’s) best pizza joints.

It’s been around for a long time (since 1965), and the man running the show, Dom, has been making pizza there since it opened.

Get used to this view for two or three hours when you come here…

The menu is pretty extensive for such a busy spot. Lines can get pretty long, and you might find yourself waiting two hours or more, even for just a few slices.

My wife and I stopped in on our way down to Coney Island for a concert. We ordered two square slices and two regular slices. I was actually surprised that this place was serving pizza by the slice given how long the lines can get. Usually when that happens, pizza joints will start doing pies only just for ease of operation.

They told us it would take about 25 minutes; that was at about 2:30pm. They clearly don’t know how to estimate the timing on this racket, even after 53 years. You’d think that would sort itself out after a few months of intense demand. But we didn’t really mind since our show didn’t start until 7pm, and we expected a bit of a wait.

We ended up standing around for about three hours waiting for our four slices though. Was it worth it? Yes and no. See below…

The first two slices to be ready were the regular slices. They were just okay. My wife even said that I made better pizza at home with respect to these. I agree. The crust was too hard, dense and dry in the back, and I needed to add some of their oil-soaked peppers to liven up the crust toward the end.

My favorite was the square pie. It was thick, saucy and packed with flavor, though still a bit too crisp/hard on the dough. These came out to us about 15 minutes after the two regular slices were ready. Again, poor timing. Everything should be served together.

See that black crust on the bottom of the corner slice there up above? Remember that…

One trick I learned toward the end of our wait was that if you walk in and take a peek over the counter to see if any straggler slices are just sitting around, you can ask if they’re unclaimed. Usually they’re not claimed, which means they’ll serve you right away and you won’t have to wait around like a sucka-ass tourist.

We did that as our two square slices were coming up, so we grabbed those two white slices on the left to go with our other four. The white slice was my least favorite of the three.

This slice, however, had a slightly better rise to it at the point. A little thicker, puffier, more airy, a better crisp – like a crunchy pillow – at that end. So that was a plus. I also liked the ricotta, but I again found myself gravitating toward the oil-soaked peppers in order to get down on the dry and hard crust toward the back end.

Which is really odd to say, because they drench the shit out of their pies with olive oil both before and after they come out of the oven. Shit was making puddles on the regular slices.

I did love the abundance of fresh basil on each pizza, but these fuckers were burning pies left and right all day long. I’m talking pitch black crusts! I usually like a little bit of that on a pie, spotty, just for texture and flavor, but some of these things were nearly destroyed entirely. Hard. Brittle. Dry. Black. And they were still selling them. The balls on these animals! We lucked out, though, and the six slices that we ate were okay, for the most part. Only one corner of one square slice was ruined and burned (I noted it above). Not bad.

So six slices, a glass bottle of Pepsi and a can of Schweppes seltzer ran us $38 and took up three hours of our lives. Was it worth it? Not for the food, no fucking way. Totonno’s is so much better, in my opinion, and you won’t have to wait that long to eat it. This place could really use a dedicated worker to man the ovens at all times so that nothing gets burnt. The commotion was too overbearing at times back there.

Taste and business commentary aside, I wouldn’t trade the experience we had for those three hours and a nice Totonno’s pie. I made sure to stay cognizant of the fact that we had the opportunity to watch Dom make pizza before it’s too late. The man deserves our respect, even if we don’t love every slice that comes out of the oven.

And he may be old, but fuck, man… the dude was pulling hot pies out of the oven with his bare hands! It was worth the three hour wait just to watch him do that.

DI FARA PIZZA
1424 Avenue J
Brooklyn, NY 11230

Brasserie Seoul

Brasserie Seoul is a Brooklyn French restaurant where Chef Park is using Korean ingredients to execute his dishes.

I hesitate to call this ppace fusion, since the menu is decidedly French. However I suppose the heavy use of Korean ingredients takes it comfortably into that category.

I came in with two other Instagrammers to shoot some photos of their popular dishes. Here’s what we had:

FIRST ROUND

Foie Gras Amuse: cherry puree and grilled grapes on brioche.

Oysters with Pork Belly: five spice pork belly and chopped kimchi dressing both east and west coast varietals.

Wagyu Beef Tartare: wasabi oil and Korean pear with pinenuts and quail egg.

That was really good. Probably my favorite dish of the night.

SECOND ROUND

Seafood Pancake: bay scallops, shrimp, squid and scallions with a ginger soy aioli.

Truffle Tteok & Cheese: rice cakes with three-cheese bechemel, white truffle oil, panko and gochugaru (a red pepper flake blend).

THIRD ROUND

Cod: jajang puree (black beans), gochugaru carrot reduction, wilted baby kale, and roasted sunchoke.

Kimchi Bouillabaisse: mussels, pollack, shrimp, baby octopus, fried tofu, rice cakes and cabbage kimchi.

FOURTH ROUND

Duck Trio: fried duck confit, breast, crispy skin and foie. More like duck four ways I guess. Blood orange gastrique with cherry puree and candied ginger.

Wagyu NY Strip Steak: black garlic, Korean sea salt, green chili puree and citrus cho ganjang (vinegar soy sauce). 7/10. This was a bit leaner than I expected from wagyu. The flavor was nice, but I’ve had much better prime strips at half the price (this will run you $80).

This steak came with roasted fingerling potatoes:

This place is pretty good. I’m not sure I’d hoof it all the way out to Brooklyn for a second visit, but the tartare, seafood pancake, tteok & cheese and duck dishes were all fantastic.

BRASSERIE SEOUL
300 Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Salt + Charcoal

Salt + Charcoal overall score: 85

A food Instagram buddy of mine, @NYCFoodFOMO, set up an “influencer” dinner here, so I was able to try a bunch of stuff. I was really impressed with the meats. It was difficult to fit this review into my standard 10-category format, as some sections just didn’t pan out like they would for a larger steakhouse. With that in mind, you should focus more on the flavor category, as well as the specific notes I made about other food items. Base your decision to go here on the substance and “meat” of the review, as opposed to the total number. I really loved every single item that I ate here, and I will definitely be back again. Anyway, check it out:

Flavor: 9

Porterhouse: 8/10. This baby is dry aged for 50 days, so it eats really soft with with a nice outer crust texture for contrast.

The aged flavor was on the milder side, but I really enjoyed it.

Both the tenderloin side and strip side were perfectly cooked and tender.

Miyazaki Sirloin: 10/10. Look at this gorgeous slab of beef.

I mean, it’s rare that you find beef that’s really from Japan, so this is a special situation. They cook and serve this very simply – almost like a sushi dish – with ginger and wasabi.

It packs a lot of flavor, and is incredibly tender. A really nice treat.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7

You don’t have the biggest selection here (porterhouse, strip, off-menu filet, and wagyu sirloin), but the sirloin is highly marbled Miyazaki; the filet is topped with tons of uni; and the other two cuts are dry aged for 50 days. They are in serious need of a rib eye, however.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are fairly normal here for the pricing, but the plating is gorgeous. Dishes are served in a Japanese aesthetic.

Price: 8

The prices can get steep. This surprised me for a steakhouse outside of midtown Manhattan. That’s the price you pay for high quality beef, though, and the Miyazaki is actually pretty fair compared to other places I’ve seen it.

Bar: 6

There’s not much of a bar scene to speak of, but the cocktails are certainly well crafted. I had a spin on an Old Fashioned, and I loved it.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

They offer an off-menu filet mignon that’s topped with tons of uni. I didn’t try it, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. I did, however, try their lamb and duck. Both were excellent, and some of the best I’ve ever had. No shame in taking a break from beef to indulge in these two dishes. Hell, they even work as shared apps if you want.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

We tried a delicious trio of apps. First was the wagyu and uni roll. This is similar to the item served over at Takashi, with the accompanying shiso leaf and nori paper.

Next up was the uni shooter with poached egg, salmon roe and truffle oil. Delicious, smooth and decadent. I could slam a dozen of these no problem.

Last but not least, the crab cakes. These were generously meaty with a nice lightly breaded crust. Lovely.

Worth noting here: two of the dishes came with these amazing potato cake sides made of dozens of thinly sliced potato. It was buttery, salty and delicious.

Seafood Selection: 9

There’s a healthy amount of seafood on the menu here, as this joint also serves up some killer sushi. We tried a few rolls and loved them all. No pics though.

Service: 10

The service here is outstanding. Everyone is attentive, yet respectful of your space and privacy.

Ambiance: 8

Beautiful rustic wood tones make for a very cozy, warm and inviting atmosphere. I really liked the open view into the kitchen on the main dining floor. While the restaurant is long and narrow, they make good use of the space. And like a traditional steakhouse, there is a private dining room available downstairs, which is where we ate.

SALT + CHARCOAL
171 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Brooklyn Bavarian Biergarten

My wife and I stopped in here for a quick bite and a drink before seeing a show nearby.

The space is pretty nice, with outdoor seating and bars, and a good selection of German brews. I tried a Grevenstein, which was an unfiltered style lager, and my wife tried a cider. Pints are $7 each, and liter steins are $12.

The food was pretty great. This wurst-sampler platter was $24: four sausages, fries and pretzel bread on a bed of kraut with and a trio of mustards.

This giant soft pretzel was $8.

Cool spot.

BROOKLYN BAVARIAN BIERGARTEN
265 Prospect Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Thaimee at McCarren

Restaurateur and food scene influencer Matt Bruck recently partnered with Chef Hong Thaimee to open Thaimee at the McCarren Hotel.

The restaurant is bright, spacious and gorgeous, with open-kitchen views into the back so you feel like you are part of the action.

The bar is a beautiful, orchid-spotted stretch with seating for about 10 people that boasts a flavorful and inspired cocktail menu, as well as some choice wines and sake.

From what I understand, the cocktail menu is currently expanding as well, so there will be even more to choose from.

The food menu is well-crafted: not too extensive, and not too small. And with Chef Hong back there doing her thing, each dish is executed with precision and perfection.

Since we tried a bunch of stuff here, I will get right down to business.

Caveat: this place has seen some buzz regarding their magic color-changing noodles.

Although I was interested to see them in action, I felt like those babies were all over Instagram already, so I wanted to try some stuff that no one else has reviewed.

Crab Cake: Beautifully presented and packed a lot of great flavor.

Tom Yum Soup: Easily one of the better versions of this Thai classic that I’ve ever tried. Tangy and robust.

Rabbit & Noodles: Perfectly cooked and tender. The batter is thick – puffy and soft on the inside, but crisp on the outside. A big winner.

Fried Ribs: Excellent. This is a must-have dish when you come here. They’re crispy, juicy and tasty. Also a big winner.

Squash Curry: As a meat man, I was surprised at how much I liked this squash dish. It was filling, satisfying, and packed with delicious Thai style curry flavors. It’s also incredibly beautiful.

Dumplings: These babies are so colorful and tasty. Veggie and peanut filling, topped with coconut and chili oil. Colors and fillings may change daily.

Thai Basil Scrambled Egg: So simple but so perfectly executed and delicious. I highly recommend this for the table.

Pumpkin Donuts: These are great for sharing at the table as well. They’re heavier than classic fried donuts, so they will chip away at your hunger and satisfy you.

Pomelo Salad: Tart, refreshing, and well balanced, this is a great way to open up your taste buds or cleanse your palette between courses.

Pad Thai Carbonara: This is hands-down the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had. There are chunks of thick cut bacon and a raw egg yolk to mix in. It really works! And the presentation is fun too. We picked shrimp as our main protein.

Chocolate Chili Souffle: I’m not a huge chocolate enthusiast, but I liked the hit of chili on top. It made this dessert pop.

Pumpkin Flan: Very smooth, and really nice flavors. I liked the candied pumpkin seeds and crispy squash on top as garnish.

I think that about does it. You should definitely get over here for the rabbit, the ribs, the squash, the soup, and especially the Pad Thai. You won’t be disappointed.

THAIMEE AT MCCARREN
160 N 12th St
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Noodle Pudding

I stopped in this joint with some friends for a quick bite to eat. I was excited to see lupini beans on the bar menu. For $5 I thought we were going to get a buttload of them, but we only got a few dozen at most.

We tried another bar snack, olives. These were great, but pricey:

Calamarata pasta. This was nice, but not the biggest portion.

Salmon with escarole. I love escarole. This was a nice dish. At $24 it felt a little small, but I think the portion is definitely right for those who are looking to watch their calories.

They have some strange rules at this place, like no birthday singing unless someone is under 10 or over 90. Also this really strange rule about fresh pork and hot weather?

Maybe it has something to do with the meat sweats.

NOODLE PUDDING
38 Henry St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

The Norm at the Brooklyn Museum

The Norm is the restaurant inside the Brooklyn Museum. I was recently invited in to try their burgers and to help promote them on social media.

The space is gorgeous here, and it truly fits with the nice artwork and artifacts on display in the museum.

I browsed the menu while drinking a bloody Mary. This was nice and savory, and had just the right amount of spice to it.

The burgers were delicious. The first one I tried was “The Norman.” Topped with cheddar and bacon, and some house made pickles, lettuce, tomato and onion.

The second one was an interesting Japanese fusion type burger. The patty contained mushrooms as well as beef, and it was glazed with a teriyaki sauce, and topped with caramelized onion,  pickled daikon and carrots.

I also tried the pho flavored ramen. This was an interesting fusion of Vietnamese and Japanese soups. The Sun noodles were perfectly cooked, but the addition of too much fish sauce muddied the flavors that were cooked into the broth with the various cuts of beef.

It definitely smelled like pho though, because of the herbs. The soft boiled egg and flank steak on top were also perfectly cooked, like the noodles.

This ramen was indeed tricky. My wife and I both liked it enough to finish it – even after crushing two burgers with fries – but we were perplexed by the competing flavors within. Not bad by any means, just different.

I think the mushroom burger embodied the same feeling, only we loved that one and the ramen we just liked. I’d definitely go back to try more stuff here. They do a great job, and are definitely thinking outside the box.

THE NORM
at The Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Pkwy
Ground Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Mia’s Bakery

I came here with a gang of Instagram influencers to help get some pics for promotional purposes. I’m not really a bakery or sweets kind of guy, but this place was great! Check out some of their stuff below:

Chocolate frosted cronut:

Strawberry cheesecake:

Blackout chocolate cake:

Coconut cream cake:

Banane cream pie:

Eclairs:

Rainbow cookies (and The Cake Dealer):

Lobster tail “Sfogliatella”:

And special cupcakes for Mother’s Day:

It was really tough to pick favorites. The pistachio eclair, the lobster tail, the cronut, the rainbow cookies, the tres leches (not pictured) and the creme brûlée cupcake (not pictured) were all incredibly good. If I had to pick just one, it would probably be the tres leches. It tasted like a wet Cinnamon Toast Crunch cake. That may not sound like much to you, but I swear it was awesome.

MIA’S BAKERY
139 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201