Alla Lapushchik, 27
After opening Death & Company and Mayahuel in Manhattan with nightlife virtuoso Ravi DeRossi, Alla Lapushchik saw an opportunity to translate the spirit-focused mixology of those cocktail temples to a South Williamsburg crowd. Her unpretentious neighborhood bar, Post Office, opened in 2011, and demonstrated that barkeeps in T-shirts could make Sazeracs just as well as the guys in fancy neckties. Her sleepy saloon model, with speakers favoring Pavement over ragtime, has since become a benchmark, sprouting imitators throughout the white-hot nabe. With her new Parisian brasserie, OTB, opening this October, Lapushchik is fast establishing herself as a nightlife prodigy.
Why Brooklyn? “Opening a place in Brooklyn is less hectic than in Manhattan,” she says. “I have more time to consider the details. I can get the product exactly the way I want it with [less] pressure to get the business up and running as soon as possible.”
Favorite Kings County haunt: “Dram. It’s very neighborhoody, but it’s also one of the best cocktail bars in the city.”
Fredrik Berselius, 33
Stockholm native Fredrik Berselius—one half of the duo behind the now-shuttered Williamsburg pop-up restaurant Frej—says his cooking career effectively began when he moved to New York in 2000, after staging in England. And while he may have cut his teeth here at A-list spots like Corton, he became one of Gotham’s most talked-about chefs by dispatching New Nordic flavors from Frej’s cockpit-size kitchen at an attractive price point—just $45 for a tasting menu. His ability to combine innovation, affordability and genuine personality—a kind of unofficial triad of Brooklyn dining values—is bringing the buzz over Berselius’s forthcoming collaboration with Eamon Rockey (Eleven Madison Park, Atera) to a fever pitch. Their joint venture is expected to open this fall in Brooklyn.
Why Brooklyn? Berselius is captivated by Brooklyn’s engaged diners and the the chefs who serve them. “There’s a real spirit of exploration here,” he says. “People are open to all kinds of food, and there’s a community of chefs helping to make it the most exciting place to be and eat.”
Favorite Kings County haunt: “Roberta’s. They’ve done a lot for the Brooklyn restaurant community by showing that it’s possible to provide for a variety of interests and tastes at one place—whether it’s pizza or a tasting menu.”
Angelo Romano, 30
Having cooked at Roberta’s in Bushwick and the acclaimed but short-lived Masten Lake in Williamsburg, Angelo Romano could have easily set up shop in the star-studded North Brooklyn galaxy. Instead he’s assumed the role of a culinary pioneer, opting to help lift a tentpole in the small but growing dining scene of Gowanus. As executive chef at the Pines, he turns out homemade pastas and veggie-centric plates, determined to tempt locals with familiar, well-executed fare before breaking out any gastronomical fireworks.
Why Brooklyn? Romano believes chefs should play the long game with customers, courting their loyalty with food that satisfies. “The restaurants in Brooklyn are supported by their neighborhoods in a way that you don’t really see in the city anymore,” he says. “If the community doesn’t embrace you here, your restaurant [won’t] do as well as it should.”
Favorite Kings County haunt: “Brooklyn Star is my postshift spot. They’re open late—it’s just great 2am bar food.”
Peter Endriss, 37, and Chris Pizzulli, 39
Opening a restaurant in New York is famously tough. Opening a successful stand-alone bakery is arguably even harder. So it might seem mystifying that baker Peter Endriss (Per Se, Bouchon) and chef Chris Pizzulli (Blue Ribbon Brasserie) chose to launch one of each of those strenuous ventures at the same time, under one roof, with the added hurdle of operating in still-developing Gowanus. But in that considerable challenge, Endriss and Pizzulli saw an opportunity: a chance to put down roots in a changing neighborhood, and cater to the needs of pioneering residents day and night. When Runner & Stone opens in October, the venue will offer coffee for the morning commute, sandwiches at lunchtime, a retail counter for naturally leavened breads, and simple pastas at the end of a long day. It’s a strong rebuke of the half-measure—an all-in plan any neighborhood could get behind.
Why Brooklyn? “Talent is gravitating to Brooklyn...that’s the reality of real estate,” says Endriss. “[The lower rents may] allow someone to open [a specialized shop] and still be able to afford it.”
Favorite Kings County haunt: “Bien Cuit bakery in Carroll Gardens,” says Endriss. “It’s obvious that [baker Zachary Golper] is looking to create an ‘oven-to-counter’ experience. And he’s really talented.”
Brad McDonald, 32
With a résumé like Brad McDonald’s—staging in a Michelin-starred restaurant in France, doing time in the kitchens of Noma and Per Se—you might be able to ply your trade just about anywhere you wanted. Yet McDonald chose Brooklyn, taking up the torch at Colonie in Brooklyn Heights and opening Dumbo’s Gran Electrica and Governor in little over a year. In a borough where high-end comfort food is still, by and large, the coin of the realm, McDonald is pushing diners out of familiar territory, showing that Brooklynites appreciate fine-dining experimentation as much as any Manhattan-dweller.
Why Brooklyn? McDonald fled his small Southern hometown, only to discover a different kind of hayseed intimacy in the big city: “There’s a tight sense of community in Brooklyn that really [hits] home for me,” he says. “I grew up in a small town in Mississippi where everybody knew everybody’s business. I moved to New York [to get away from that]. But I’ve realized it’s really nice to walk down the street and recognize people that you serve in your [restaurant].”
Favorite Kings County haunt: “Brooklyn Roasting Company—they’re bringing good coffee to Dumbo, which is great.”
Max Sussman, 29, and Eli Sussman, 27
The brothers Sussman became darlings of the Kings County food scene by logging hours in the kitchens of two new Brooklyn institutions (Max is chef de cuisine at Roberta’s, Eli is a line cook at Mile End). With the September release of This Is a Cookbook, a jointly written collection of recipes published in part by Williams-Sonoma, the siblings are on their way to becoming the scruffy avatars of next-wave Brooklyn cuisine for a national audience. (The book is informed by their respective workplaces and the diet of your average twentysomething Brooklynite.) As to the obvious question of when the fraternal pair are opening their own spot, Eli hedges, “It’s an ongoing discussion.”
Why Brooklyn? Max is drawn to the borough’s culinary sprawl. “Everything’s more spread out here—you can find a lot of hidden gems and surprises,” he says. Eli, meanwhile, likes the concentrated quality and range available in Brooklyn’s best dining ’hoods. “In Brooklyn, it’s like there’s a very good steakhouse across the street from a sandwich shop that is down the street from a dumpling place,” he explains.
Favorite Kings County haunt: Max favors Cobble Hill’s Battersby. “People have been talking it up a lot, but it’s really well-deserved,” he says. “I’ve had some amazing meals there.” Eli has a thing for St. Anselm in Williamsburg. “It is an excellent restaurant. They’re straightforward in their offerings, but they cook things to perfection.”
Dale Talde, 33
A fan-favorite Top Chef contestant with stints at Buddakan and Morimoto to his name, Dale Talde channeled his celebrity and culinary savvy into upscale Asian eatery Talde, bringing palpable buzz to stroller-plagued Park Slope when it opened in early 2012. And with his newer, dive-styled Pork Slope, he’s cementing his reputation as an operator capable of reshaping a neighborhood’s identity, transforming bleary-eyed parents into Wild Turkey–swilling, wing-chomping barflies at the popular roadhouse.
Why Brooklyn? Talde was lured by the idea of operating in a neighborhood with less built-in competition than you’d find on Manhattan’s busiest blocks. “In the East Village and LES, there’s a two- or three-star restaurant every few blocks,” he says. “Why compete with that when you have a ’hood that really needs and wants a new restaurant? Brooklyn was a blank canvas that we could [project] our ideas onto.”
Favorite Kings County haunt: “Franny’s. You can just see that everyone cares. They don’t take any shortcuts.”
Trendlet: Edible blooms
Where to drink this week: Post Office
Restaurant review: Governor
Restaurant review: Talde
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