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Signage Up at 'Taco Santo,' Opening Feb. 1

A couple weeks ago, I first reported that Fort Reno BBQ, on Union Street near 4th Avenue, had closed for business, and was being replaced by a taqueria from the same owner, Jacques Gautier, who also runs Palo Santo across the street. He'd been on the hunt for a name, and it was revealed last weekend: Taco Santo.The Dia De Los Muertos-inspired sign has gone up, and they've announced via Facebook that the opening date has been set for February 1.

The made-to-order tortillas, which will be measure about 4 1/2 inches across, will be the star of the show here, filled with pork (from whole pigs), chorizo, chicken, duck mole, mushroom, cactus, Baja-style fried or grilled fish, fried avocado, and lobster (pictured). Tacos will average $3. Gautier will be executive chef, Puebla native Alejandro Bonilla will be chef de cuisine, and mixologist Corey Lange has been brought in to head up the mezcal-centric cocktail program. 



Signage Up at Buttermilk Bakeshop

Signage went up yesterday morning at Buttermilk Bakeshop, the bakery that's in the works on Seventh Avenue just south of Ninth Street.

As we first reported last month, the small bakery, run by pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse, will sell cakes, cookies, chocolate truffles, homemade ice cream, whoopie pies, French macarons and other sweets and pastries, as well as coffee, hot chocolate, and hot cider. Offerings will be baked fresh throughout the day, on view through the front windows.

If all goes to plan, it should be opening in early February.


El Gran Castillo de Jagua's Plan B: Moving up the Avenue

It was revealed in a December Daily News article that Dominican favorite El Gran Castillo de Jagua, on the highly visible corner of Flatbush, Park, and Carlton, was being forced out of their location of 40 years by landlord Stuart Venner of Vlacke Bos LLC. I dropped by the restaurant, best known for its roast pork, mofongo, and rotisserie chicken, last night and asked the counterman how things were coming along.

"We won't know anything for at least a couple months," he told me. "We're going to court so it could take a while." He added that if they should lose this battle and be forced to vacate the building, they've already worked out a deal to move to 367 Flatbush Avenue, about half a block away, in the space last occupied by a mattress shop.                                                                                                                   

The landlord is trying to boot all the other retail tenants of the small cluster of buildings, including a barber shop and (fantastic) bakery Little Miss Muffin ‘N’ Her Stuffin, to bring in higher-paying tenants. The stretch between the Barclays Center and Grand Army Plaza is one of the most sought-after in the borough, according to the article, and "spaces that used to rent for a few thousand dollars a month now cost as much as $15,000 to $20,000." 

The most recent victim was Christie's Jamaican Patties, which closed after nearly 50 years last week and now only exists as a food truck. Thankfully, it appears as if we'll have Gran Castillo around for a while longer, no matter what.


Zito's Opening New Location in Bay Ridge

It's been exactly four months since Zito's closed the original location of their Italian sandwich shop, on Seventh Avenue between Seventh and Eighth Streets, and owners Marcello Bucca and Enzo Conigliaro have made their next move: they're making a homecoming of sorts, and opening in Bay Ridge.

The owners grew up in Bensonhurst, and modeled the shop, which has another location on Fifth, on the South Brooklyn sandwich shops of their youth. In a Tweet last night they announced that the new location will be opening in a little over a week, at 7604 3rd Avenue, near the corner of 76th Street.

I reached out to Bucca, and he told me that the food menu will be the same, but there will be a whole lot of new perks: they'll be open until 2 AM on weekends, they're serving Stumptown coffee, and beer will be a major emphasis. A whopping 75 beers will be available by the bottle, with six rotating taps. Growlers and quarts will be available to-go, and they'll let you fill your own six-pack with bottles for $25 to stay, $20 to go. There will be two Happy Hours with $4 drafts from open- 5 PM and for the last hour before close, and they'll be offering all-you-can-drink Narragansett for $15 during the day. There will also be four televisions showing soccer.

Bay Ridge is in for a real treat!

Photo via Twitter


Closed for Business: Christie's Jamaican Patties, 387 Flatbush Avenue

Some sad news to report: Christie's, the Jamaican patty shop on Flatbush Avenue between Sterling Place and Plaza Street, has closed. The phone has been disconnected, and there's a "For Rent" sign in the window.

In business since 1965, the shop was originally located across the street (where the eastern corner of the Crunch Gym is now) and it moved to its present location in 2006. Their $2.50 beef, chicken, and vegetable patties were about as good as it got (especially when tucked into coco bread), and their mains like macaroni and cheese, curry goat, and barbecue chicken were dependably good.

There was a scare back in November of 2011 that the small restaurant, which had a few tables but mostly did to-go service, would be forced to close, but it hung on, with owner Paul Hayes saying, “[Landlord Lina Feng] is trying to kick me out; I don’t think it’s worth the stress; it’s killing me. I’ve had so many sleepless nights.” The shop hung on, but Hayes had been in and out of court with Feng since then.

Christie's was an inexpensive and tasty option in an area where it's now just about impossible to fill up for $2.50. Another nearby option, El Gran Castillo de Jagua, is also now just holding on by the skin of its teeth, as it might be closing soon as well. If you haven't tried their roast pork yet, do yourself a favor and do it now.

As for Christie's, fingers crossed that Hayes can find a new, more hospitable location. In the meantime, their food truck will still be regularly parked on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Ninth Street.

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