You have a lot of snacking to do, so start simple: Post up at the bar and pair your tipple of choice with the kale salad ($6), which tempers the greens’ bite with chunks of Red Delicious apple and a citrus vinaigrette, or the roasted beets ($8), delicately dressed with Greek yogurt, balsamic vinegar and fresh tarragon. For a more shareable option, try a few orders of the deviled duck eggs (two halves for $4). Tue–Wed, Sun until 2am, Thu–Sat until 4am.
Co-owners and siblings Jacqueline and Fabrizio Pirolo drew on European influences as much as their Italian heritage to craft a menu that offering something for every palate. You can’t go wrong with any of the affordable small plates at this sibling-run establishment, but we find ourselves most often returning to the creamy polenta with spicy sausage ($10), warm butternut squash ($11) and homemade cavatelli with pork sugo ($15). The kitchen’s rendition of patatas bravas ($7), supremely crispy fingerlings served with sriracha and mayo, is also compulsively craveable. Mon‑Thu until midnight; Fri, Sat until 1am.
We hope you saved room for grilled cheese, because this whiskeycentric tavern serves seven different varieties. The Karen ($7) pairs fromage blanc, Gruyère, sharp cheddar and Havarti on sourdough; the rich Maefred ($6) combines gooey double-crème Brie with local mushrooms, diced onions and fresh rosemary on ciabatta. Nightly until 4am.
Forgo the usual meat-and-cheese plates and turn your attention to the Vittles section of the menu at this chic but low-key neighborhood spot. Pigs-in-a-blanket get punched up with large hunks of spicy Italian sausage ($7), and bacon-wrapped dates swap out standard blue or Gorgonzola cheese for melty Gouda ($7). If you’re craving something sweet and haven’t yet had your fill of cheese-and-toasted–bread combos, the pressed sandwich with Nutella and goat’s-milk ricotta ($6) balances its fillings just right. Otherwise, go for the chocolate panna cotta ($6), an enhanced riff on the creamy, puddingesque dessert that tops the custard with house-made huckleberry jam and a sprinkling of sea salt. Nightly until 4am.
Billyburg brunchers turn this cash-only bistro into Wait Central on weekends, but the after-hours atmosphere tends to be more manageable. The best spots to perch are at the polished wooden bar and in the back room, where friends can gather around an old-timey hearth in winter. You can sample classic hors d’oeuvres regardless of when you’re there or where you sit, including house-made duck pâté ($11) and escargots ($9). And if you ask us, a side of thin, parsley-speckled pommes frites ($4.50) is always a good idea. Those who’ve managed to work off some of the earlier nibbles might have room for one of Le Barricou’s French classics, such as a rib-sticking version of coq au vin ($15), but we’d recommend saving that for another day—or night. Mon–Thu, Sun until midnight; Fri, Sat until 2am.