Fifth Avenue is the nexus of the Park Slope restaurant scene. Our critic-approved list includes a longtime fixture that ranks among New York's best Italian restaurants, and Top Chef contender Dale Talde’s eponymous eatery, which reflects the current trend for cutting-edge Asian cuisine. There are also several bars with notable kitchens, including recent arrival Pork Slope.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Park Slope, Brooklyn
Aspiring restaurateurs in Park Slope should study this convivial Fifth Avenue pioneer. Nine-year-old al di là remains unsurpassed in the neighborhood. Affable owner Emiliano Coppa handles the inevitable wait (due to the no-reservations policy) with panache. The wait is worth it for co-owner and chef Anna Klinger’s Northern Italian dishes. It would be hard to improve on her braised rabbit with black olives on steaming polenta; even simple pastas, such as the homemade tagliatelle al ragù, are superb.
Beet is a small word for a Park Slope restaurant with a big concept. Pat Rodsomarng, who owns Mango nearby, has opened a modern Thai eatery and is cooking both traditional dishes and his own French-inspired inventions. Every meal begins with a basket of beet chips and continues with your choice of salads, soups, noodles, dumplings, curries, or boozy innovations like cognac ginger beef or red snapper with champagne-vanilla butter sauce. The 40-seat room is beet-colored, too.
With the success of the Soho original, the French-trained brothers Bromberg opened this night owl draw in Brooklyn, offering up a clever mix of down-home cooking and haute cuisine, all available into the wee hours of the morning. A heaping plate of crispy fried chicken shares the menu with a tender duck club sandwich layered between homemade raisin bread and one of the best cheeseburgers around. The super-fresh raw bar boasts fresh oysters, clams, head-on prawns and lobster, while buttery beef marrow with oxtail marmalade is a must have, especially to cap off a night of wholesome revelry.
We’ve been reminded by recent cinema gaffes like Bewitched and The Honeymooners that remakes of beloved originals rarely live up to expectations. Mind you, Brooklyn Fish Camp is no flop: Menu holdovers from the seminal Mary’s Fish Camp—the cultish lobster roll, rosemary-stuffed whole fish and succulent lobster knuckles—are as fresh and delicious at the spin-off as they are on Charles Street. And new additions like spicy calamari tossed with grape tomatoes and chickpeas are equally satisfying. But the thrill of scoring a precious seat at the tiny West Village original simply doesn’t carry over to the Brooklyn location, which is too spacious and lacking in character to feel special. You’ll eat well at least, and while the weather’s nice you can eat outside, too: There’s a lovely deck in back.
We expect a lot from our junior celebrity chefs—all those young guns chasing the spotlight on reality TV. Intense scrutiny awaits these aspiring showmen and women as they parlay their budding stardom into restaurants of their own. But while many who looked so good on the small screen have failed to live up to their promise (we’re looking at you, Sam Talbot), a few are now proving their true worth in the real world. Dale Talde, who came close to the title on two seasons of Top Chef, has taken his sweet time in unveiling his solo debut. Last year, the former Buddakan chef hyped his restaurant-in-the-works with a sold-out, one-night-only pop-up downtown. But the eponymous place he launched recently, on the southern reaches of Park Slope’s main drag, is so understated, it’s as if he’s hoping his fans don’t notice it’s there. On a recent Friday night, he was clearly out of luck. If the mosh pit at the bar didn’t scare away walk-ins (the place takes reservations only for big groups), then the host quoting a two-hour wait for a table certainly did. The cramped corner restaurant doesn’t look much like a hot new food destination. With its dark-wood booths and mahogany carvings depicting dragons, foo dogs and samurai swords, the place feels like an old-school bar and grill crossed with a 1970s Chinese restaurant. The seating is uncomfortable; the decor kitschy in the worst way; the tiki-style cocktails all sickly sweet. But the food turns out to be well worth a wait and a bit of dining
The neighborhood restaurant is a genre beloved by Brooklynites, whose Kings County pride is fueled by casual eateries---places where thoughtful food can coexist with reasonable prices and friendly service. There's obvious comfort to be found in the bond between regulars and their go-to filling station, but it can be a curse to the ambitions of a hungry chef. After all, how good can a neighborhood joint be if only the locals take to it? At first glance, Thistle Hill Tavern---the most recent addition to South Slope's growing culinary cosmos---appears to be another example of the borough's navel-gazing nostalgia. The cozy interior feels like a temple to turn-of-the-20th-century Brooklyn (dark wood, antique maps, black-and-white photos), and the seasonal New American angle---with its earnest balance of meat, fish and vegetarian-friendly offerings---is a predictable match. What's not predictable, however, is the accomplished food---at her best, chef Rebecca Weitzman, an 'inoteca alum and winner of Food Network's Chopped, produces dishes that are too good to be bound by a single zip code. Though the menu doesn't list any appetizers, tapas-like "snacks & sides" provide a good starting point. A fig-and-mascarpone crostini was delicately executed, balancing the sweetness of the thinly sliced fruit with rich, buttery cheese. Pair it with a selection from a wine list that highlights small producers, or mull your options over a local beer (Brooklyn Brewery, Kelso and Sixpoint all get nod
Chef Josh Grinker’s spirited menu is described by some as “contemporary” American, but he achieves his intensely rich flavors through the use of old-school ingredients. A thick pork chop is bumped up a notch with the addition of pork belly gravy, a mini hamburger benefits from silken short ribs and oily bluefish translates well when prepped as pan-seared cakes. From appetizers to desserts, Grinker sends out food that may not be flashy, but sure is delicious. A lively staff, a wine list with genuine bargains and creative, fairly priced cocktails round out this first-rate neighborhood dining experience.