As cooking methods go, grilling may be the ultimate American art form. But New York restaurants, hamstrung by tight urban quarters (and by the Building and Fire Departments), rarely explore its smoky, greaseless, flame-licked potential. St. Anselm in Williamsburg may be the city's most impressive exception. A few months back, the restaurant morphed from New Jersey--style burger-and-dog shack to upmarket grill house. Owner Joe Carroll, who runs Spuyten Duyvil next door and Fette Sau across the street, had struggled without a liquor license to make the first concept work. Its new incarnation---finally greenlit for beer and wine---looks much like the old one, the dust-bowl collection of rusty saw blades on the walls and light fixtures supplemented now with banners from an old Masonic temple. But the food these days is much more ambitious than cheese fries and artisanal brats. Carroll, who swapped out the griddle and fryer for a blazing gas grill, has taken to calling the place a "blue-collar steakhouse," but that's not quite right. There are just two steaks on the menu, and while the charred hanger has great earthy flavor, the more eclectic offerings are much more the draw. The well-rounded menu, heavy on veggies, combines Mediterranean, Asian and all-American flavors---the cooking method ties it all together. Head chef Yvon de Tassigny (also the pit master at Carroll's barbecue joint) has given the grill here a starring role. Among the many delicate "smalls from the grill," as
A century-long family history in fishmongering is, oddly, not why entertainment lawyer Vincent Milburn built this north Brooklyn seafoodery. After music-industry pal Adam Geringer-Dunn noticed a plethora of butchers but zero fish shops in the nabe, the pair began hosting pop-up lobster bakes. Now they’ve ventured into purveying, sourcing only seasonal and sustainable—and sometimes local—catch like wild Alaskan salmon and Arctic char at a retail counter. They put the fresh goods to use in dishes like lobster rolls, kelp-noodle pad Thai and Baja-style fish tacos dressed with citrus-cabbage slaw and chipotle-lime mayo, doled out in a tiled space outfitted with marble counters and high-top tables. Beers also keep to the coast: Captain Lawrence Kölsch and Cisco Brewers Grey Lady are both on tap, along with Gotham Project rosé.
Before this Williamsburg coffee bar and roastery came along, the only place in New York where you could find San Francisco’s famed Blue Bottle Coffee was at Gramercy Tavern. Now caffeine fanatics can sample the company’s shots of espresso and cups of joe—made to order from freshly roasted, mostly organic beans—without dropping a wad of cash on a dinner. Iced-coffee fans in particular should take note: Five contraptions from Japan will slowly cold-drip Kyoto-style brew, while those who like to add milk should consider the stronger New Orleans-style preparation, fortified with chicory.
Rony Vardi opened her teeny accessories boutique in 2006 as a companion to the larger, clothing-focused outpost of Catbird on Metropolitan Avenue. Though that store closed in 2009, the girly, white-walled Bedford branch is still going strong, offering a carefully curated selection of jewelry, accessories, home goods and more. “I consider it my life’s work,” explains Vardi of her quest to find pieces by new or little-known—but amazing—designers. In addition to sourcing items by Kings County jewelry artisans like Bittersweets NY and Flotsam & Jetsam, Vardi also designs a house line featuring delicate rings and pendants fashioned after letters of the alphabet, seahorses or the great state of New Jersey.
Carrie Peterson’s buy/sell/trade store has become a household name in the city since establishing outposts in Park Slope and Greenwich Village, but the original Williamsburg store wass still a prime spot to scope preworn treasures. It has since moved to Greenpoint because the store's landlord didn't renew its lease. "The neighborhood has grown at astronomical rates," Peterson says. Luckily the rent rates are friendlier—for now—in Greenpoint, which is nice considering this new outpost is only six-and-a-half blocks away from its old spot. Expect the same vibe and budget-friendly prices on vintage goods that Beacon's is known for. Sifting through the many racks of gently used clothing for true finds can require a heck of a lot of patience, but the effort is well worth it for fashionistas on a budget. On a recent visit, we spotted a pair of Manolo Blahnik peep-toe pumps ($22) and a Patrizia Pepe china silk tunic ($50); dudes’ duds included a Club Monaco denim jacket ($17) and Sperry Top-Siders ($19). Looking to sell your own cast-offs? Clean, gently-used duds are inspected on the spot for their resale value (which is determined by seasons or what the store needs stocked). You’ll receive either a percentage of the resale value in cash (35 percent) or store credit (55 percent) to put toward your next purchase.
First came the gastropub, an import from Britain featuring upmarket pub grub in an ale-drinking setting. Now, welcome the gastrodive, which further blurs the lines between restaurant and bar. The Commodore in Williamsburg, with its old arcade games, Schlitz in a can and stereo pumping out the Knight Rider theme song, offers the city’s best cheap-ass bar eats, served in a seedy venue where folks come to get blotto. The short menu—with descriptions as curt as the service you’ll encounter while ordering your food from the bartender—reads like a classic collection of fryolator junk. But the “hot fish” sandwich, for one, is a fresh, flaky, cayenne-rubbed catfish fillet poking out of both sides of a butter-griddled sesame-seed roll. “Pork du jour” turned out to be two soft buns filled with a delicious mix of pinto beans, sweet-spicy barbecued pork and vinegary slaw. Chef Stephen Tanner, formerly of Egg and Pies ’n’ Thighs, heads the kitchen, cooking up fried chicken that trumps even that of his former employers—three fat thighs with extra-crisp, peppery skin and tender brined flesh, served with thimbles of sweet-and-spicy vinegar sauce and biscuits with soft honey butter. Even the thick fries are a superior product—right in the sweet spot between soggy and crisp. While the Commodore, with its fatty foods and blender drinks, would hardly qualify as a destination for dieters—the house libation is a frozen piña colada—Tanner and his crew do a fine job of keeping vegetarians happy. In
This venue was featured in our August 23, 2012, Fall Preview issue. It is expected to open fall 2012. Vets of the Knitting Factory will open their second gargantuan space in East Williamsburg. Like its twin venue, the Well, located next door, the 9,000-square-foot spot will house a performance stage and a bar extensively stocked with craft beer. The 100-seat drinkery will also serve pub grub, including Schaller & Weber sausages, hot dogs, Sigmund’s Pretzels and Belgian fries. Late October.
The crowd-pleasing pop-up market—a Williamsburg holiday-shopping favorite since 2011—found a permanent home in this 24,000-square-foot Greenpoint warehouse. Modeled after eclectic Asian street markets, the flea runs year-round on Friday and Saturday nights—Sigmund's Pretzels uses the space during weekdays—and features a locally focused lineup of artists, craftspeople and food vendors. On the menu are BrisketTown's topflight barbecue, Ample Hills Creamery ice cream, lobster rolls from the Lobster Joint and Arancini Bros. rice balls. Kelso and 21st Amendment are on tap in the beer garden. The sprawling emporium is also equipped with a minigolf course, ping-pong tables and large-scale light installations by NBNY, and live bands play weekly.
An eatery and bar on an increasingly happening Williamsburg strip, Baby's All Right maintains a lively schedule of au courant musical acts and DJs.