Category Archives: Brooklyn

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

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