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Entries in What to Expect (20)

Monday
Jan142013

"Gather" Opening January 22 in Uncle Moe's Space 

It's been well over a year since Uncle Moe's, the burrito and taco shop on Seventh Avenue between Ninth and Tenth Streets, closed up shop after 20 years in business. Back in September I learned that "a cafe" was planned for the space, and now finally details are available about what we can expect: It'll be called Gather, will specialize in prepared foods, and should be opening by the end of the month.

When I dropped in over the weekend I had the opportunity to speak with the chef, who's very excited about finally getting the operation up and running. Construction is complete, and it seems as if just a few last minute details are needed before they open, which should be "by January 22nd," she said.

As for what to expect, there's not much in the way of seating but a large counter featuring a selection of prepared foods that should make for a very solid dinner to take home on your way from the subway. The menu has already been posted online, and while soups and sandwiches are offered, the main focus is on proteins and sides. You can choose from options like chicken, skirt steak, and pork or beef stew, and complement it with a wide assortment of sides including mac and cheese, kale salad, and healthy veggies and such. There will also be daily specials. For breakfast, oatmeal, granola, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries will be on offer, with coffee from Intelligentsia and tea from Kusmi.

All offerings will be made from scratch, using fresh, seasonal ingredients. With an emphasis on healthy prepared foods geared toward takeout, a seemingly cohesive business plan, and a real differentiation from anything else in the area, something tells me that this place will do quite well.

Tuesday
Nov272012

What to Expect: The Crab Spot, Opening Soon on Union Street

Back in August I received word of a short New York Times article that mentioned (without embellishment) that a new restaurant called something along the lines of "Crab's Pot" would be opening in the space last occupied by PSbklyn, and before that Bussaco, on Union Street just west of Seventh Avenue. That restaurant, actually called The Crab Spot, has been under construction for a few months now and should be opening within a couple weeks.

I had a chance yesterday to sit down with the restaurant's chef, Ignat Kostov (who was previously chef at Flatbush Avenue's Piquant), and he filled me in on all the details.

The Crab Spot is owned by two brothers, Steve and Alex, whose are related to the owners of Brighton Beach boardwalk standby Volna (there's no connection between the two restaurants, though. It'll be "a casual restaurant with casual prices" according to Kostov, with a menu focused on (you guessed it) crab. Lobster and Dungeness, King, and Snow Crabs will all be shipped directly from Alaska with no middleman to keep prices down, and they'll be served in creative combinations out of pots brought directly to the table. "We'll have a wide variety of combo pots with all different types of seafood, and it'll be a lot of fun," said Kostov, who's been a chef in the city for over 12 years."Most shellfish is overpriced and fried. Ours will be healthy and affordable."

It's certainly a novel concept, and a completely unique style of restaurant for the neighborhood (Kostov told me that a custom freezer was built in the basement to keep the shellfish on ice during the off-season). This space has been home to several failed restaurants in recent years, but this approach will most likely bring plenty of curious townsfolk. They've removed the odd barrier that PSbklyn's owners installed between the front and back rooms (as well as the child-centric theme), and now it's just a large space with a bar, plenty of booths and tables, and a vaguely nautical theme to go along with mural-painted faux-brick.

The liquor license has already been acquired (it came with the space), and the first shipment of shellfish will be arriving on December Fifth. They hope to be open by then.

Tuesday
Oct092012

What to Expect: Brooklyn Central Pizza, Opening Tomorrow

Brooklyn Central, the new pizzeria from Sottocasa pizzaioli Matt Hyland and Roberto Patriarca, will be opening tomorrow in the space last occupied by Pete's Pizzeria, on Fifth Avenue between First and Second Streets.

The space has been completely transformed, and is comfortable and casual. There's a seating area up front with a full bar behind that, and a hand-built wood-burning oven from Naples' Stefano Ferrara dominates the back room. There's a counter surrounding it so you can watch the magic happen, and behind that is an outdoor seating area, which should seat about 35. There's plenty of exposed brick and reclaimed wood; the counter is actually made from an old bowling alley.

But on to the pizza. "Flour, water, yeast, and salt are the only ingredients," said Patriarca, who hails from just outside Naples and whose father ran several pizzerias in New York. "The pizzas are made in strict Neapolitan style, using primarily fresh, local ingredients." The crust is chewy and springy, with just the right amount of char from the blazing oven.

The pizza menu is separated into two sections: "New World" and "Old World." Pizzas in the Old World section are made with imported fresh buffalo mozzarella and fresh tomato sauce, and come topped with prosciutto, sausage, ham, pepperoni from M&S, anchovies, mushrooms, olives, and other traditional toppings. There's also a classic calzone, filled with mozzarella, ricotta, ham, tomato, and basil. "Very traditional," added Hyland. "We're going back to basics with the Old World menu."

Where the Old World menu is classic and traditional, the New World offerings are anything but. There's the North Maple (above), topped with smoked mozzarella, bacon, maple syrup, and pecans. The Canard comes with duck, smoked mozzarella, and a seasonal compote. The Ivette (named after Roberto's wife) has ricotta, onions, bacon, and potato. The Emily (named for Matt's wife, who also manages), has mozzarella, tallegio, truffle spread, pistachios, and honey. There's also a vegan pie, topped with sauce, artichokes, peppers, cherry tomatoes, and scallions. Fresh mozzarella on the "New World" pies is from Brooklyn as opposed to the "Old World"'s Italy, which makes for an interesting comparison when eaten side by side.

There's a solid assortment of appetizers, including a few salads, charcuterie from La Quercia, meatballs, oven-roasted octopus with fennel salad, and "stix," foccaccia rolled in pizza spices and served with tomato sauce (I have a feeling the kids will love that one). For dessert, there's a s'mores calzone (filled with marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers), "pizza churros" rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with Nutella, Steve's key lime pies, and Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches. Coffee is from Toby's Estate in Williamsburg.

There will be weekly pizza specials according to what's fresh and in-season, and brunch will be rolled out within a month. A liquor license is also in the works. They'll do orders to go, but are still toying with the idea of delivery. Brooklyn Central will be open from 5- 10:30 during the week, and until midnight on the weekends.

Owners Matt Hyland (l.) and Roberto Patriarca

Wednesday
Oct032012

What to Expect: Beygl, 291 Fifth Avenue

A new bagel place is in the works in the space last occupied by Peruvian restaurant El Pollo, on Fifth Avenue between First and Second Streets, and earlier this afternoon I had the chance to drop by and speak with owners Robert and Joey Massa, two Brooklyn-born brothers who are eager to start serving up some hot, fresh bagels.

"All our bagels will be baked on-premises, in the authentic, honest way of doing it," said Robert, who lives in Staten Island but grew up about 20 blocks away. "When I say that, I mean hand-rolled, kettle-boiled instead of steamed, and slow-baked in small batches. Most places churn them out by the hundreds; we'll be baking only 4-6 dozen at a time."

The commitment to the hand-crafted, artisan technique will also carry over to the other food offered. "All our meats will be roasted in-house, instead of just using Boar's Head," he added. "We'll be making fresh roast turkey, ham, and roast beef here every day, sliced fresh to order." All pastries and muffins will be made in-house as well, and all other bread will be from Baked in Brooklyn, located further down Fifth. Jams and jellies will come from Anarchy in a Jar, usually found only in specialty stores.

According to Steve, the jovial baker, fresh batches of bagels will be coming out of the oven every hour, so there'll always be something hot. "They'll be crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside," he said. "Just the way I like it. Not doughy, soft."

"It's more labor intensive to do it the old-style way, to take our time with it and do it right," said Robert. "But when you try it you'll be able to tell the difference, and to tell that we take pride in it."

If all goes to plan, Beygl will be open by the end of the month.

Owners Robert (l.) and Joey Massa

Monday
Sep102012

A Look Around Terroir Park Slope, Opening Soon

I had the opportunity over the weekend to take a tour of Terroir, the "elitist wine bar for everyone" from chef Marco Canora and sommelier Paul Grieco that's slated to open within a week on the corner of Fifth Avenue and First Street. It's a well-designed space, one which takes its cues not only from the four existing Terroirs but also from the the history of the building itself. 

The exterior of the one-story building has only been given a minor sprucing-up; old windows were re-installed along First Street and guests will enter through a glass doorway on Fifth (the current front will soon be replaced by a garage-style door that will roll up on nice days). The exterior walls haven't been repainted in an effort to honor the history (terroir?) of the building. 

Walking in, there are two communal tables up front that seat ten each, and past those is a 15-seat bar flanked by several smaller tables that each seat six. Sixteen beers will be available on tap, as well as two wines from Gotham Project. Obviously plenty of wine will also be available by the glass and bottle, and you can preview the (unformatted) food menu here

Further back, adjacent to the small exposed kitchen, is another communal table, this one lower down to the ground to accommodate those with kids and those who prefer to not sit on high stools. All told, the space should seat about 65.

Aside from preserving the exterior paint job, a couple other touches are holdovers from the space's time as dive bar Great Lakes: exposed ceiling beams and, surprisingly, (only) the graffiti on the walls in the bathroom, which certainly give the place that "lived in" feel. A second restroom has been constructed for those who would prefer a graffiti-free experience. 

Management is waiting on the final go-ahead from the city, but once they do (could be as soon as this weekend) it'll be open for business. They'll be open from 5 until midnight Monday to Wednesday, Until 1 AM on Thursday and 2 AM on Friday, from noon to 2 AM on Saturday, and from noon to midnight on Sunday. The kitchen will be open until 11 nightly, midnight on weekends.