No Disneyfied tourist destination, Brooklyn remains a diverse patchwork of old neighborhoods, many of them highly ethnic, each with a distinctive character.
Manhattan gets all the attention, but nearly a third of all New Yorkers live in Brooklyn, the most populous of the city’s five boroughs. No Disneyfied tourist destination, Brooklyn remains a diverse patchwork of old neighborhoods, many of them highly ethnic, each with a distinctive character. If you get to New York you’d do well to make a pilgrimage to this borough. You’ll leave a little richer—and lot fuller—for your efforts.
Peter Luger Steak House 718-387-7400, peterluger.com
Luger’s decor hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1887 (some say the waiters haven’t either). Go for the prime Porterhouse, aged on premise. Hit the ATM (hard) before you go because it’s cash-only—and pricey.
The smell of garlic hits you the minute you walk in the door—it’s been that way since this old-time Italian opened in 1900. Try the clams casino, ravioli or lasagna.
Adelman’s Kosher Deli, 718-336-4915; adelmankosherdeli.com
One of the best kosher spots anywhere, it has rickety seats out back and a counter up front. Specialties: chopped liver, stuffed derma, kreplach and sandwiches piled high with brisket, corned beef, tongue, pastrami, etc.
Applewood 718-768-2044, applewoodny.com
This newcomer is housed in a turn of the (previous) century townhouse. David Shay’s market-driven menu features organic and local ingredients and draws rave reviews. Reserve a seat by the working fireplace.
Saul Bolton has worked with Manhattan luminaries Eric Ripert and David Bouley. His New American menu changes with the seasons. Make a reservation because Saul only seats 35.
Al di La 718-783-4565, aldilatrattoria.com
Have an epiphany (seated in a church pew) while eating casonziei (ravioli stuffed with roasted beets and ricotta) and pan-roasted striped bass with hen of the woods mushrooms. And go early; they don’t take reservations.
Sahadi’s 718-624-4550, sahadis.com
Inhale the perfume of spices, coffees, chocolates, nuts and dried fruits. Exotic condiments and cheeses are standouts.
Damascus Bakery 718-625-7070, damascuspastry.com . Steps from Sahadi’s this bakery is worth a stop. Try a flaky phyllo triangle stuffed with vinegary spinach and spicy potatoes.
Acme Smokehouse 718-383-8585 acmesmokedfish.com
A smokehouse with Kosher delicacies like lox, sable, herring and white fish.
Matamoros Puebla Grocery 718- 782-5044
This tiny store is chockfull of authentic Mexican ingredients like dried chilies and banana leaves, plus there’s equipment like tortilla presses and tostoneras. Order tacos, tamales and sopes out back.
Jacques Torres Chocolate 718-875-9772, mrchocolate.com
A chocolate-lover’s heaven. Period.
M&I International Food 718-615-1011
Everything Russian can be had at this shop in the heart of Little Odessa: house-made pickles, smoked and cured meats and fish, caviar and blinis, vareneky, pierogi.
Eagle Provisions 718-499-0026
This Polish grocery carries any kind of pickle, kielbasa, smoked meat and fish you could want. And 500 brands of beer to wash it all down.
D’Amico Coffee 718-875-5403, damicofoods.com
Since 1948, they’ve roasted their own blends right here. It’s the best java in Brooklyn—and the price is right.
D. Coluccio & Sons 718-436-6700; dcoluccioandsons.com
You name it, Coluccio imports it from Italy: coffee, olives, pasta, San Marzano tomatoes. Mozzarella’s made daily and a cheese and meat counter (with speck) is tops. Other specialties: chestnut flour, heirloom beans, even frozen sfogliatelli.
Di Fara’s 718-258-1367
Dominick DeMarco’s the man behind the counter patting out thin crusts topped with San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. He’s also the guy pulling pies from the oven, sprinkling on more cheese and fresh basil, so be patient, it’s worth waiting.
Totonno’s 718-372-8606, totonnos.com
There’s a lot to see and do at Coney Island, but don’t wait too long to order a pie at Totonno’s—when the dough’s gone, that’s it for the day.
Grimaldi’s 718-858-4300, grimaldis.com
The coal-fired brick oven pumps out heat intense enough to produce the crispy crusts. Red-checked cloths cover the tables and photos of Frank (you know, Frank) adorn the walls.
Franny’s, 718-230-0221, frannysbrooklyn.com
This newcomer serves simple-but-elegant thin-crust pies and rustic fare featuring house-cured sopressata, lonza, pancetta and coppa.