Bay Ridge represents a kind of final frontier for Brooklyn, and not just because it’s the last place you hit heading south before the bridge to Staten Island. Still relatively untouched by the gentrification wave, it’s characterized by cozy diners, spacious parks and laid-back bars patronized by folks who grew up in the area.
RECOMMENDED: Great days out in New York
From the Bay Ridge–95th St R stop, head south along Fourth Avenue and across Shore Road to the waterfront, where you can join weekend warriors on the busy bike path or relax in the shadow of the towering Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. In 1776, this was where Britain’s army launched its campaign against Washington’s forces.
Head north along Third Avenue, where shops and cafés crammed with locals line the sidewalks between 95th and 86th Streets. You’ll find a hybrid at Hom (8806 Third Ave between 88th and 89th Sts; 718-238-4466, thehomstore.com), which offers vintage curios and a brunch selection that changes monthly—in September, dig into apple-cinnamon French toast ($12.95)—served in a semisecret back-corner dining area and a private garden. Be sure to save some of your caloric quota for the Little Cupcake Bakeshop (9102 Third Ave at 91st St; 718-680-4465, littlecupcakebakeshop.com). Try the Blue Velvet cupcake ($3), baked with blueberries and buttermilk, and frosted with mascarpone cream cheese.
Ride your sugar high to that grande dame of discount stores, Century 21 (472 86th St between Fourth and Fifth Aves; 718-748-3266, c21stores.com). Burn through your fall shopping at this well-organized (and less crowded than in Manhattan) emporium of Theory work wear, Jimmy Choo shoes and other price-slashed designer goods.
Next, make your way to The Owl’s Head (479 74th St between Fourth and Fifth Aves; 718-680-2436, theowlshead.com) to quench your thirst with a glass of sparkling red barbera ($13), served cold and paired with a three-cheese plate ($14). Owner John Avelluto, an artist and sommelier, grew up nearby; after tiring of traveling north to indulge his love for art and vino, he opened an outpost for both in Bay Ridge. He’s since commissioned murals from local artists and launched a poetry night (last Sunday of the month at 7pm).
“A.L.C. Italian Grocery (8613 Third Ave between 86th and 87th Sts)
is owned by Louis Coluccio, who literally grew up in the store. If you have a question about Italian food, this is the guy to ask. He was identifying salumi before he was learning his alphabet.” —Allison Robicelli, robicellis.com