T+L Reports: Brooklyn Bites
Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn is giving its Manhattan counterpart a run for its money with a crop of restaurants worth crossing the river for.
1 Anglophiles rejoice at the Chip Shop (No. 383; 718/832-7701; dinner for two $24), where the cod fillets—and even Twinkies—are deep-fried. At the adjoining Curry Shop (dinner for two $25), vindaloo lovers can personalize their meal with five meat- or vegetable-and-sauce combinations. 2 Blue Ribbon (No. 280; 718/840-0404; dinner for two $82) and 3 Blue Ribbon Sushi (No. 278; 718/840-0408; dinner for two $70) have brought the Bromberg brothers across the bridge. Expect the same popular menus as in SoHo—oysters and pupu platters; at least 35 types of sushi—but with a more relaxed vibe. 4 Long waits are the standard for unconventional northern Italian dishes (beet-and-poppy seed ravioli, braised rabbit) at cozy Al Di Là (No. 248; 718/783-4565; dinner for two $56). 5 Parisian-style brasserie Moutarde (No. 239; 718/623-3600; dinner for two $60) brings hangar steak, escargots, and free-range poulet to the neighborhood. 6 Any of the 30 panini at Press 195 (No. 195; 718/857-1950; lunch for two $16) makes an ideal snack. There's even a pressed Nutella-and-banana sandwich with vanilla ice cream for dessert. 7 Can't decide between Japanese, Malaysian, and Thai?Nana (No. 155; 718/230-3749; dinner for two $40) fuses them together (rib eye in scallion-teriyaki sauce, spicy soft-shell crab, "everything" sushi rolls), courtesy of chefs from Ruby Foo's and Sushi Samba in Manhattan.
Serving an extensive menu of pan-Asian fare, this cash-only restaurant is housed inside two adjacent storefronts in the Park Slope neighborhood. The interior is designed in an industrial-chic style, with polished concrete floors, a large aquarium, and exposed brick walls lined with colorful artwork. Out back, a spacious patio provides additional seating. The dinner menu alone has more than 100 Southeast Asian dishes, including fresh sushi rolls; appetizers such as roti canai (Indian-style flatbread with potato curry); and entrées like crisp red snapper in a sweet-and-spicy tamarind sauce. The bar serves Asian-inspired cocktails, such as lychee mojitos and coconut margaritas.
Although Moutarde passed as a mid-century French bistro in the 2009 film Julie & Julia, the Park Slope restaurant was renovated a year later to create a more modern look. The updated dining room blends original design elements—such as electric wall sconces and marbleized mirrors—with contemporary touches like bright-orange wine pails, and a graffiti-like ceiling mural inspired by French artist Jean Cocteau. In addition to longtime signature dishes, such as escargots in hazelnut-garlic butter, the menu also includes a selection of poêlées: casseroles served in their original cooking vessels. Try the goat cheese—filled salmon pillows with arugula-pesto sauce.
A Union Jack is displayed with stately pride in the front window of this traditional British restaurant, located along Park Slope's busy Fifth Avenue. The narrow dining room’s walls are painted the same tint of yellow as Coleman’s English mustard and finished with novelty items and kitschy photographs of Great Britain. Fish and chips are certainly the signature dish—with customers' permitted to choose from cod, haddock, or plaice—alongside classics like steak and kidney pie. A classically trained French chef, owner Chris Sell also specializes in deep fried dishes, ranging from mac and cheese to candy bars.
The original location in a growing chain of panini-centric restaurants, Press 195 in trendy Park Slope was developed by college friends Brian Karp, Chris Evans, and Jimmy Volz. Brick and tile line the interior, expansive windows allow plenty of natural light, and mismatched-color tabletops splash vibrancy throughout the dining room. Customers will also find a backyard garden for dining al fresco. While salads, pressed sandwiches, and burgers are available, it is the ‘knish corner’ items that are the specialty, with ingredients like roast beef, meatloaf, or pastrami dressed with cheese and sauce and layered between two pressed potato knishes.
Al Di Là
Founded by the husband and wife team of Emiliano Coppa and Anna Klinger (the two actually met while she was traveling abroad in Italy), this small trattoria was one of the original restaurants that helped Brooklyn emerge as a dining destination. The corner building, installed along one of the Park Slope neighborhood’s primary arteries, still possesses its original exposed pressed-tin ceilings, and its mustard awnings can be spotted from a block away. A glass candle chandelier casts a warm glow over the rustic wood tables below, and exposed sections of weathered brick give the walls a bit of character. Chef Klinger’s Venetian menu emphasizes simple, time-tested execution and a heavy reliance on fresh organic ingredients, with signatures including red beet and ricotta ravioli as well as braised rabbit with black olives and polenta.