FEATURE

My Brooklyn Is Better Than Yours

Manhattan? Fuhgeddaboudit. These days, the most interesting part of New York is across the East River.

Then go to Cobble Hill and listen to the ragtime-jazz band while you dine on an omelet or steak and eggs at Bar Tabac. At Union Picnic in Williamsburg, the Elvis (French toast with peanut butter and bananas) and the fried chicken with waffles are irresistible. You might consider taking a walk around McCarren Park when you're done--these dishes are a reminder of why the King had heavier years.

Besides being home to beautiful brownstones, Fort Greene is one of my favorite places to indulge in my burgeoning rice obsession. A tiny restaurant tucked on Dekalb Avenue, Rice works a single main-ingredient theme. The carrot rice ball is a fantastic way to start a meal.

Further north, the sister restaurants Diner and Marlow & Sons sit on a fairly quiet corner in south Williamsburg. Diner, which is inside an old 1920s Kullman Diner car, focuses on executing standards like burgers and mussels exceptionally well, while Marlow is popular for its raw bar. Neither is particularly easy on vegetarians, so be sure to call ahead to ask about the vegetarian dish of the night. Let's just say that the vegetable galette isn't always a success.

At Press 195, further south in Park Slope, the name says it all. Specializing in pressed panini sandwiches, Press offers dozens of options and one heck of a dessert sandwich (Nutella, bananas, and vanilla ice cream).

Just up the avenue in Prospect Heights is Franny's, which some consider the best pizza--being Southern I can't bring myself to say "pie"--in the city. Expect an ambitious list of appetizers using seasonal ingredients, and a main-course menu of pizzas. Bring an open mind: The $8 pizza topped with just olive oil and sea salt isn't pizza as you know it.

Brooklyn is fast becoming a hotspot for those who are believers in market-fresh cooking. One of the restaurants leading the way is Park Slope's Applewood. The wait is often laughable, but the food is seriously delicious. And the lavender martini is a must.

The last three spots on my list are favorites for different reasons. Aurora in Williamsburg dishes up authentic Italian food (and my favorite dessert--affogato, espresso poured over gelato). Little D Eatery combines local ingredients to make interesting meze-style plates. And I love Patois for its modern French cuisine. Each represents the way that Brooklyn's top chefs are taking traditional food and putting a contemporary spin on it.

  • DuMont 432 Union Ave., Williamsburg, 718/486-7717
  • Schnäck 122 Union St., Red Hook, 718/855-2879, shake $5
  • Baked 359 Van Brunt St., Red Hook, 718/222-0345
  • The Good Fork 391 Van Brunt St., Red Hook, 718/643-6636, entrées from $9.50
  • Chestnut 271 Smith St., Carroll Gardens, 718/243-0049, entrées from $16
  • Fada 530 Driggs Ave., Williamsburg, 718/388-6607, brunch $11
  • Bar Tabac 128 Smith St., Cobble Hill, 718/923-0918, omelet $9
  • Union Picnic 577 Union Ave., Williamsburg, 718/387-3800, Elvis $8
  • Rice 166 Dekalb Ave., Fort Greene, 718/858-2700, rice ball $5
  • Diner 85 Broadway, Williamsburg, 718/486-3077, burger $10
  • Marlow & Sons 81 Broadway, Williamsburg, 718/384-1441, entrées from $14
  • Press 195 195 Fifth Ave., Park Slope, 718/857-1950
  • Franny's 295 Flatbush Ave., Prospect Heights, 718/230-0221
  • Applewood 501 11th St., Park Slope, 718/768-2044, entrées from $19
  • Aurora 70 Grand St., Williamsburg, 718/388-5100, affogato $7
  • Little D Eatery 434 Seventh Ave., Park Slope, 718/369-3144, small plates from $7
  • Patois 255 Smith St., Carroll Gardens, 718/855-1535, entrées from $13
  • SHOP
    In the world of design, Brooklyn is a major capital. Over the last few years, the industry has looked to the borough for the latest trends and styles.

    And when the design world talks about Brooklyn, more often than not it's referring to Williamsburg. Once an industrial area known primarily for factories and warehouses, Williamsburg has transformed into a haven for artists, particularly those interested in furniture and product design.

    If a single shop could be pinpointed as the center of the change, it would be The Future Perfect. Dave Alhadeff has created a shop that's known the world over as one of the best places to discover up-and-coming designers. The merchandise is very clever and includes edgy accessories like oil lamps made from recycled (but nonworking) grenades. Once, while traveling in Chicago, I heard shop owners and design students saying "Oh, that's so Future Perfect." You know you've made it when you're an adjective.


    WALKING MAPS!
    Use these handy maps to explore Brooklyn. Just print and go!
    Carroll Gardens
    Park Slope
    Williamsburg

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    Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
     

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