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Wednesday
Jul232014

M&S Prime Meats to Close in August, Russo's Taking Over the Space

Some sad news to report: The neighborhood's last old-school pork store, M&S, will be closing its doors for good in August. Owner Mel Diaz sent me the below photo of the note that he's posted on the front door.

M&S Traces its origins to 1948, when Anthony Schiccitano opened A&S Fine Food and Pork Store (his initials) up the avenue at 274 5th, now home to nail salon Reedchy. Brothers Mel Diaz and Sal Bonello took over the store in 2005 and gave it their own initials, and due to a rent dispute with Schiccitano's daughter they were forced to move into the current space, between 2nd and 3rd Streets, in 2008 (here's a full history). The brothers, who honed their skills at Little Italy's Italian Food Center, continued turning out freshmade mozzarella and ricotta, antipasti, homemade sausages, fresh pasta, freshly-butchered meats, and some outstanding sandwiches in the old-school tradition, and Mel took full ownership after Sal's untimely passing in 2010 at age 40.

Mel's own health problems are now forcing him to close the shop's doors for good, after a 66-year run. Thankfully, though, it doesn't end here. Russo's, which traces its lineage all the way back to a still-extant shop on Manhattan's 11th Street that's been open since 1908 (and a second location up on 7th Avenue and 10th and 11th Streets since 1996), will be taking over the location. Now run by Jack Russo, they're known for their fresh pasta and homemade mozzarella, ricotta, prepared foods, and antipasti; no word on whether they will continue M&S' tradition of selling fresh meats here, but they'll most likely sell sausages, like they do at their other locations.

A handful of businesses based on Seventh Avenue, like Eric Shoes and Pure Essentials, have opened second locations on Fifth within the past year. While it's sad to see M&S shutter after all these years (and I hope that Mel's health issues aren't too serious), it's nice a century-old Italian deli join them.

Tuesday
Jul222014

Menu Revealed for Pizza Superstar, Coming Soon to Dean Street

The tiny stretch of Dean Street between Fifth and Flatbush Avenues is shaping up to be quite a dining destination: Kulushkat and Broccolino are already popular spots, and Patsy's Pizza is under construction just a couple doors down. But right next door to Broccolino, the Italian restaurant's owners are planning a second eatery, and it'll be called Pizza Superstar.

The name might leave something to be desired, but based on a rendering that recently went up on the under-construction restaurant's plywood, it looks like it'll be a cute little pizza place (click to expand).

A full website is already up, complete with a menu: 17 pizzas will be on offer, ranging from "Tradizionali" (Margherita, Salame Piccante, 4 Formaggi) to "Speciali" (Amatriciana, Bresaola & Rucola, Potatoes & Pancetta). There will also be three calzones, including one filled with Parmesan, ricotta, gorgonzola, and mozzarella.The pizza oven is made by Stefano Ferrara, one of the top brands.

This looks like it'll be more of a straight-ahead Neapolitan-style pizzeria, a totally different style from the classic New York variety that Patsy's is known for, so there's actually not too much in the way of competition. The more the merrier, I say!

Monday
Jul212014

El Pollito Mexicano Expands into Space Next Door

El Pollito Mexicano, the Mexican restaurant on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Sterling Place, has expanded into the space next door, a room which was previously home to a recording studio named Translator Audio.

The restaurant, which was a mediocre Italian spot called Trattoria Mangia for several years before the owners decided to switch concepts in 2009, has become one of the more popular Mexican restaurants in the area, thanks in part to its inexpensive lunch special, edible food, outdoor seating, and bottomless brunch.

The expansion, which is right next door on Sterling, seats about 30, and will be used for overflow and private parties.

Friday
Jul182014

Garfield Farm Space on 7th on the Market for $17,500/Month


Garfield Farm, the bodega and fruit stand on the corner of Seventh and Garfield, shut down recently, and the space is available for a whopping $17,500/month, making it quite possibly the highest-rent vacant space in the neighborhood.

The 2,100 square foot space joins plenty of other vacant storefronts on this stretch of the avenue with outrageous asking prices, like the Chiles & Chocolate space ($12,800) and the Yogo Monster space ($10,500) next door. The Sweet Melissa Space near First Street is on the market for $14,000, The Walk-In Cookbook space is available for $9,500, and the former Two Boots space is for rent for an astronomical $16,000.

The landlord and real estate company involved with renting out the building told Park Slope Stoop that they don't want to space to remain vacant for long, and are looking for a "business that can satisfy the needs of the community without corroding the feel of the neighborhood.” The agent also pointed out to me in an email that it's "renting at below market value in order to attract some locally grown businesses that can flourish in this spot."

It's a nice sentiment, but I'm not sure how many mom and pop shops can afford rent that high, unfortunately.

Wednesday
Jul162014

Melt Owner Opening "Rare Earth" in Same Location

For those who had high hopes that the dearly departed City Sub would be re-opening in the storefront next door that was last occupied by Melt (which closed "for renovations" last September and never re-opened), some unfortunate news: a new restaurant called Rare Earth is opening in the space (on Bergen Street just off 5th Avenue), and it's from the same owner as Melt, Muguette Siem A Sjoe.

Siem A Sjoe told Park Slope Stoop that the restaurant, which posted a menu in the window, will be open shortly, in as soon as a week.

The menu (click for a larger version) is divided into separate sections, Ocean, Earth, and Land. "Ocean" includes oysters with a watermelon mignonette ($15), fluke crudo ($12), and peekytoe crab raviolo ($20); "Earth" includes heirloom baby beets ($12), garden grilled flatbread ($10), and buckwheat cavatelli with corn and dendelion greens ($19); "Land" includes porchetta ($12), a short rib burger topped with Jack cheese, tomato jam, and caramelized onions ($14), and braised brisket ($22). Each section is separeted into what appears to be appetizers and entrees.

There's also a brunch menu with options including shredded beef and eggs, baby Dutch pancakes, and chicken and waffles; a kids menu; and a few desserts. The menu also notes that the food is made with "wholesome, fresh, naturally grown ingredients, served at its peak harvest time," which basically every new restaurant is saying at this point.It will be open until midnight during the week and 1 AM on the weekends, with lunch coming soon.

I'm approaching this with cautious optimism; the menu looks creative if a bit conventional ("naturally-grown ingredients" aren't much of a selling point anymore; neither is the segmented menu approach). Utimately it will come down to the skills of the chef, and whether or not the same issues that plagued Melt (high chef turnover, alleged poor management, high price point, side-street location) will affect this one.