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Monday
Jul202015

Williamsburg's Ramen Yebisu Opening Second Location on Seventh Avenue

Ramen Yebisu, the popular Sapporo-style ramen shop on North 6th Street in Williamsburg, will be opening its second location at 52 Seventh Avenue, between St. Johns and Lincoln. Temporary signage has gone up on the storefront, and a manager at the Williamsburg location confirmed that this will indeed be the same restaurant.

As opposed to pork-based tonkotsu ramen, which is by far the most popular style around these parts, Sapporo-style ramen (from Japan's northermost island, Hokkaido) involves a seafood-based stock. Other varieties available include miso-based ramen, shoyu (soy sauce-based) ramen, and shio (salt-based) ramen. Noodles are slightly larger and chewier than with pork-based (Hakata-style) ramen, and other options include chicken ramen, vegetarian miso ramen, and spicy ramen. A popular specialty is abura soba, soup-free noodles topped with a rich soy-based sauce.

The shop first started as a hugely successful stall at Williamsburg's Smorgasburg food fair, and Yelp reviews are largely positive. Along with hidden gem Sushi Katsuei further up the avenue and the East Village's Wasan opening on Bergen, this neighborhood is seriously upping its Japanese restaurant game.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Could it Be? "City Subs" Coming to 82 Fifth Avenue

For those who have been mourning the loss of beloved sandwich shop City Sub since it unceremoniously closed its doors after more than 25 years in business on Bergen Street near Fifth Avenue on May of 2014, pledging to just be moving "up the block to a new location," it appears as if that new location has finally materialized: Park Slope Stoop is reporting that a temporary sign has gone up in the window of the former Nuteria (on Fifth between St. Marks and Warren), announcing that a new restaurant called City Subs is moving in.

City Sub, which was one of the only storefronts in the area that commanded lines out the door on a near-daily basis, was a no-frills sandwich shop selling a wide variety of simple cold cut sandwiches and a few hot ones, like meatball. It's hard to say what exactly made it so good; it was quite possibly the freshness of the super-thin-sliced meat sliced to order, or maybe the sesame seed-topped bread from Carroll Gardens-based Mazzola Bakery. Whatever the reason, these were some seriously good old-school sandwiches.

I think we have very good reason to be cautiously optimistic here that this is in fact the second coming of City Sub: The logo and name are essentially the same as they were before, they said when they closed that they'd be re-opening up the block, and... well, that's about it, but it's enough to go on for now. Possibly it's under new ownership; City Sub's closing notice was written by "the staff of City Sub," not the owners. And even if it's not City Sub reopening, any new sandwich shop is one that's worth getting excited about.

Photo via Park Slope Stoop.

Tuesday
Jul142015

Open for Business: The Perfect Potato, 172 Fifth Avenue

A Belgian-style fry shop called The Perfect Potato has opened at 172 Fifth Avenue, betwen Degraw and Sackett. There's a rather limited menu, as can be expected: just fries, poutine, and milkshakes.

European-style fries are fried to order and served in cones, and there's a wide selection of sauces: ketchup, Dijon mayo, mayo, and malt vinegar are free; coconut curry, zucchini basil, heirloom tomato, gorgonzola tarragon, wasabi mayo, sriracha ketchup, thai chili lime cashew, miso roasted red pepper, and Moroccan tagine with apricot sauces are are available for $2.

There are also several varieties of poutine (the uber-popular Canadian dish of fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds): classic (with curds made specially for the shop), mushroom, roast pork, and "hangover cure" (with gravy, curds, fried eggs, onions, peas, and candied bacon). As for milkshakes, they're available in creative flavors including peanut butter and jelly, preserved lemon, mango lassi, banana cream pie, plain vanilla, and Bourbon pecan.

The shop was absolutely packed when I dropped by on Sunday, and while nothing looked especially healthy, it all looked delicious; the fries were golden brown and freshly-fried, and the poutine looked gutbustingly tasty.So far, Yelp reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

Belgian-style frites shops aren't easy to come by in this city; the most popular one, Pommes Frites, was sadly destroyed in the East Village explosion in March and is still working to get back on its feet. That shop was nothing short of beloved, and this seems set to be a success as well.

The Perfect Potato, 172 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: (917) 909-0465.

Wednesday
Jul012015

Open for Business: Brooklyn Burgers & Beer, 259 Fifth Avenue

Park Slope's newest burger joint, Brooklyn Burgers & Beer, opened a week ago today on the corner of Fifth and Garfield. Thankfully, it looks like some real care went into both the menu as well as the design.

The dimly-lit restaurant is run by two friends, and they've sourced their ingredients from a host of local purveyors, including Baked in Brooklyn, Balthazar, and Brooklyn Brine. Grass fed meat comes from Boerum Hill-based butcher Dellapietras, and is a 50% chuck, 50% brisket blend. All patties are eight ounces.

The menu is fairly expansive; you can choose from a wide variety of patties, buns, toppings, and sauces, or choose from one of their creative burger options. Those include their flagship B&B Burger (bacon, brie, onion ring, special sauce, and arugula on brioche); The Motherload (bison patty, truffle mac and cheese, and bacon on brioche); and the Blue Moon (topped with turkey bacon, blue cheese, garlic aioli, and a sunny side up egg). Other options are made with lamb, tuna, black bean, and kobe patties, as well as fried chicken. There's also plenty of of appetizers (wings, maple bacon, fruit guacamole), sliders (pork belly, crisy fish, falafel), and sldes (three fries, corn on the cob, onion rings, cucumber apple slaw). It's really clear that it's all about the burgers here, which is a good thing.

The space is smartly laid out, and there's a very solid selection of beers on tap as well as cocktails, many of which are beer-based. So long as there's a market for burgers in this neighborhood (which there certainly is, even though there's plenty of competition), I see this place doing very well. Cheeburger Cheeburger this ain't.

Monday
Jun292015

Closed for Business: Brooklyn Central Pizza, 289 Fifth Avenue

Some sad news for brick oven pizza lovers: Brooklyn Central, the Neapolitan pizzeria that opened on Fifth Avenue between First and Second Streets in October 2012, has shut down. The windows have been papered over and the phone has been disconnected. Many thanks to the several tipsters who reached out to let me know, and for reader Gabo for forwarding the above photo.

Brooklyn Central opened with a fair amount of fanfare, namely because of their custom-built Stefano Ferrara pizza oven and the fact that the two owners, Naples-born Roberto Patriarca and Matt Hyland, were both veterans of Boerum Hill's renowned Sottocasa. Hyland left just six weeks after its opening (he's since opened Clinton Hill's super-popular pizzeria Emily), but the closure is still a bit surprising because it had a reputation for very good pizza and it always seemed to have a fair amount of diners inside. And aside from Franny's and Giuseppina's, there aren't many other places in the area to get a solid and authentic Neapolitan pizza.

That said, there are a few potential reasons for its closure: It never got nearly as much buzz as it probably should have, their Twitter and Facebook pages were lacking, the seating arrangement was awkward and the back yard never got much use, the menu probably could have used some pasta dishes and wider non-pizza options, they didn't deliver, and, of course, high rents.

The space has been on the market for the past few months; if it's been rented we'll probably be learning about its replacement soon.

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