Getting It Right

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It feels like restaurants pop-up and then close shop in Park Slope everytime you turn around. One minute there’s a new cafe opening its doors in Brooklyn’s notoriously competitive restaurant industry, and the next minute there’s a “For Rent” sign taped outside its dirtied window. But, occasionally, a restaurant gets it right: Cooks up great food, builds its clientele, and establishes a lasting reputation. The restaurants listed below have accomplished just that and have been in business for ten or (in some cases) more years. So, take a gander, make some mental (or digital) notes, and revel in the following restaurants’ not-too-shabby success.

12th STREET BAR AND GRILL
1123 8th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

What makes Park Slope special is the people. The neighborhood consists of the old-school Park Slopians—artists and writers—and an influx of new professionals. This creates a vibrant, eclectic neighborhood mix.
—John DeLillo, Co-Owner of 12th Street Bar & Grill.

The 12th Street Bar & Grill takes classic recipes from all over the globe—Southern France, Italy, the Middle East, and Lousiana—and interprets them through the eyes of a cosmopolitan Brooklynite. Tuna tartare comes laced with ginger and soy, while a classic steak is enhanced by an espresso rub, and a lunchtime po boy is topped with anchovy aioli and shaved fennel. The eighteen-year-old restaurant also strives to incorporate Brooklyn-made ingredients into its fare, which includes a Brooklyn Brine-topped burger, and a cocktail list feautring local distilleries such as Clinton Hill’s Brooklyn Republic Vodka and Ownie’s Rum in East Williamsburg.

Ai-Di-La-Anna-Klinger

Ai Di La

AL DI LA
248 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

[Cooking] clicked and felt right immediately. I loved everything about it. I sort of dropped everything else in my life and dove in.
—Anna Klinger, Chef and Co-Owner of Al Di La

Back in 1998, Al Di La helped fill the gastronomic void in Park Slope. And to this day, restaurant critics, cookbook authors, and the media generally consider Al Di La to be one of Brooklyn’s original pioneering restaurants. Al Di La’s Northern Italian menu includes a number of knockouts, such as braised rabbit with black olives and polenta, stewed cuttlefish and oxtail, and malfatti stuffed with swiss chard and ricotta. After eating here, the restaurant’s reputation as having some of the best food in Brooklyn, will be as clear as the Adriatic.

BLUE RIBBON
280 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Slathering honey over buckets of fried chicken from Chicken Delight in our hometown Morristown, New Jersey [is one of my favorite food memories]. The honey bear on the kitchen table started out as a way for our parents to get us to eat [healthy]stuff. It started out with grapefruit and it ended up on our fried chicken.
—Eric Bromberg, Co-Owner of Blue Ribbon

The Bromberg brothers’ Brooklyn outpost of Blue Ribbon, which opened in 2001, is at once polished and down-to-earth—a hard line to walk. Blue Ribbon’s menu features fairly traditional dishes with noteworthy spins, like a piece of roasted hake with a lemon tahini sauce or an oxtail fried rice that comes with the pleastantly surprising addition of daikon, shiitake, and bone marrow. Appetizers are particularly noteworthy: Sauteed calamari without an iota of rubberiness and an impossibly-luscious bone marrow and oxtail marmalade pairing. Blue Ribbon has fashioned comfortable fine-dining at its finest.

Convivium-Osteria-Michelle-Pulixi

Convivium Osteria

CONVIVIUM OSTERIA
68 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

My husband’s family was really old-style. He grew up in Italy and his father was a butcher. They made their own prosciutti, cheese, olive oil, and wine. Our restaurant was very influenced by that.
—Michelle Pulixi, Co-Owner of Convivium Osteria.

Husband and wife duo Carlo and Michelle Pulixi opened Convivium Osteria on Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue at the turn of the millenium. The multi-roomed restaurant (each of which has a distinct identity) offers a melding of Italian, Spanish and Portugese fare that’s rustically-Mediterranean, seafood-heavy, and seasonally-influenced. Convivium Osteria’s long candlelit tables, matted copper pots, and rustic brick walls are transportive and fantastical. Standout dishes include: roman-style braised artichokes, large prawns roasted with pink salt, housemade ravioli stuffed with green apples and cinnamon capped with duck ragu, and a highly-acclaimed forty-eight ounce ribeye served on a wooden tray.

Johnny Macks

Johnny Macks

JOHNNY MACKS
1114 8th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Both my husband and I were born in Brooklyn. In fact, my husband is third generation Park Slope. His father and grandfather lived in the neighborhood. The building Johnny Macks is located in used to be a fruit store. My husband remembers going to it as a child. There’s really a lot of history here.
—Samantha Soliminy, Co-owner of Johnny Macks

Johnny Macks might take home the award for longest-running Park Slope eatery on this list. The joint originally flung its doors open as a bar in 1995, but a year later the owners added a kitchen, which churns out high-quality American comfort classics. The food at Johnny Macks is unpretentious bar food: Juicy burgers, oversized sandwhiches, hand-cut fries, and a full bar that includes milkshakes with a shot of booze-of-your-choice. With friendly service, and an easygoing and homey atmosphere, Johnny Macks is the kind of reliable joint a neighborhood could hope for.

MIRIAM
79 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

I always loved cooking…When I was in the [Israeli] army, I cooked for the crew. Whenever we weren’t fighting, I cooked.
—Chef Rafi Hasid, Chef-Owner of Miriam

Miriam, Park Slope’s premier Israeli restaurant, has been serving Brooklynites a taste of the “land of milk and honey” since 2004. Chef Rafael Hasid plumbs his native Israeli cuisine—an amalgamation of Jewish food from around the globe—to illustrate how cross-pollination has informed Israeli cuisine (and culture). The bulk of Miriam’s dishes reflect Middle Eastern flavors like harissa, tahini, and pomegranate, which are incorporated into dishes like  merges sausage, roasted eggplant, couscous, chicken shawarma and more. Additionally, unique spins on classic Ashkenazi dishes—like potato pancakes topped with eggs and labneh and shnitzle with beats, tomatoes and cucumbers—pepper the menu.

NANA
155 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

I’ve been working in the restaurant industry for more than twenty years. I cooked, I bartended, and I waited tables. So when I opened my own place, I basically knew everything about the field.
 —Eric Ong, Owner of Nana

Boasting the label of the first restaurant on Fifth Avenue to serve Japanese food, Nana is one of Park Slope’s longest-established Pan-Asian restaurants. The “pan” refers to dishes from Japan, Thailand, and Malaysia, each of which are cooked by a chef that specializes in one of the three respective cuisne. Popular dishes include a crispy whole red snapper with a sweet-sour sauce, mango shrimp with a kick of spice, and various noodle dishes like Pad See Ew and Pad Thai. There are also a myriad of traditional drinks spiked with Asian flavors, like lychee mojitos, mango margaritas, and sakeitinis.

Sotto Voce

Sotto Voce

SOTTO VOCE
225 7th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

“Culinary school was my mother’s kitchen. I learned at her knee. I studied books, made some mistakes, burned a few things along the way,  and when I got it right I opened my first restaurant and it’s still here.”

—Mario DiBiase, Chef and Owner of Sotto Voce

According to Sotto Voce’s owner Mario DiBase, 1998 was a turning point for Italian food in Park Slope. It marked the transition from the existing swath of red-sauce Italian-American restaurants to more “authentic” Italian food from the motherland. Sotto Voce’s grand opening gave Park Slopians regional Italian food, featuring traditional dishes originating from Italy’s heal to boot. Sotto Voce’s bill of fare includes classic antipasti, a wide range of pasta dishes, and reasonally-priced pollo, pesce, and carne. The romantic setting of Sotto Voce has even lead to quite a number of  mid-meal marriage proposals (think: engagement rings buried into dessert batters).

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