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Open for Business: Food Lin, 399 Fifth Avenue

The Chinese restaurant whose signage was revealed last week officially opened for business yesterday, in the space formerly occupied by the Botanica San Miguel, on Fifth between Sixth and Seventh. The interior is surprisingly roomy, with some traditional Chinese touches like bamboo. The menu? Exactly what you'd expect.


Happy Hannukah!

Mayor Bloomberg lights the menorah
The Festival of Lights' first night is tonight, and Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Markowitz and members of the community gathered in Grand Army Plaza at 5:30 this evening to light the borough's biggest menorah. Bloomberg gave some little toys to the kids, jelly donuts and potato latkes were handed out, and awesomely cheesy music was played. An ideal way to get into the Hannukah spirit, if I do say so myself.
The always-jovial Marty Markowitz


Prime 6 Gets A Rendering

Prime 6, the bar/lounge/restaurant for Barclays Arena patrons going into the space formerly occupied by Royal Video on Sixth and Flatbush, has released a rendering of what the finished product will look like. Thanks to Brownstoner for the image.

Looks like the facade will be brick (or faux-stone, more likely), with hanging lamps and large doors that open up to the avenue. Not nearly as gaudy as the name/ former website would suggest. Construction has seemed to stall on this project recently, so it's anyone's guess when this place will actually open, even though they say it'll be ready to go within a month or two.


Business of the Week: M&S Prime Meats, 312 Fifth Avenue

In a neighborhood that used to be chock full of butcher shops and pork stores, it's surprising that there's only one left. The supermarkets carry meat, sure, but there's really nothing like walking into an old butcher shop and buying it from directly from the person who butchered the animal. It's also a big plus when the shop has homemade fresh and dried sausages and mozzarella, as well as ridiculously good sandwiches. 

All of the above can thankfully be found at M&S Prime Meats, on Fifth Avenue between Second and Third, and it's got quite a storied history.

The shop was first opened in 1948 by Anthony Schiccitano, just up the avenue (at 274 Fifth), and he called it A&S Fine Food and Pork Store (the A and S were his initials). He purchased the building soon after, and continued to run the shop until he retired and sold the business to the Opramolla brothers in 2002. In April 2005 the business was purchased by brothers Mel and Sal Bonello, Italians by way of South America who had previously worked at the Italian Food Center in Little Italy. They brought with them their vast knowledge of Italian specialties and butchering techniques, as well as the fine art of crafting the perfect sandwich. 

They ran the business out of the small original storefront until the passing of founder Anthony Schiccitano in 2006. Anthony's daughters owned the building at this point, and of course a lengthy rent dispute was in order. The Bonello brothers finally had enough arguing and haggling, and after a scare that the pork store might close for good, they announced plans to open a shop twice the size as the original just up the street, its current location. The original storefront remained vacant until recently, when it was announced that something called Cycle Bar would be moving in. 

Opened in December 2008, Mel and Sal's (M&S) Prime Meats has carried on the tradition of the classic Italian butcher shop to the next generation. They make some of the best Italian antipasti and sandwiches around and offer the freshest meat and best homemade sausages you'll find. Their fresh mozzarella is second to none, and they offer classes every so often to show how it's made. Everything there is made with love; even their chicken soup is some of the best I've ever had.

Sal Bonello, 1969-2010
Sadly, Sal passed away in June at age 40, after a long battle with cancer.  His brother Mel can still be found there almost every day though, and the tradition of the Italian butcher shop will hopefully be continued for generations to come.

M&S Prime Meats, 312 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-768-2728.


A Peek Inside Pete's Pizzeria, Opening in December

The newest pizzeria to hit Pizza Row, Pete's, is all ready to go, judging by this peek I got through the open front door today. I took a step inside to ask the owner (Pete, presumably) if I could take some more photos but he said it wasn't camera-ready yet, but that it should be open within a week to ten days. 

The space looks more or less like your usual pizzeria (mural of an Italian vista on the wall, etc.), save for a long bar and a wood-dominated interior. Check back when it opens for a full review.