Yesterday a friend of mine took me to Roberta's in Brooklyn. Imagine my surprise when we rolled into my old neighborhood. The same Bushwick hood I could never get my scaredy-cat friends to venture out to 6/7 years ago. Honestly, with the exception of the hipster migration looking for cheap rents and the few businesses that sprouted out to service them, little else has changed. It still looks like an industrial war-zone. Roberta's itself is a converted warehouse that from the outside looks like nothing more than a cinderblock bunker. However, inside it does have a sort of rustic charm with its fire-engine red pizza oven, communal wood tables, and beverages served out of mason jars. And even though Roberta's is touted as a pizzeria, they offer much more on their menu. Fares like tripe, sweetbreads, lamb and pork chops. We opted to stick with the pizzas and shared the Millenium Falco, a 12-inch pie topped with tomato, parmigiano, pork sausage, onion, garlic, basil, and chili flake. We also shared a simple but delicious Bibb Lettuce salad, a tangy mixture of dried cherry vinaigrette, gorgonzola and roasted walnuts. All in all the food was good, the waiters attentive, and the atmosphere and crowd laid back but interesting. I enjoyed the experience of eating at Roberta's but as my friend and I both said as we exited, "It was good but I don't need to do it again."
261 Moore Street (Bogart Street), Bushwick, Brooklyn, (718) 417-1118
Take the L to Morgan Avenue and walk.
If you're going to venture deep into Brooklyn the better choice is Saraghina in Bed-Stuy. Not only is the ambience warm and inviting, the wood-fired pizzas are incredibly flavorful and delicious. Like the previously mentioned pizzeria the ramshackle exterior of Saraghina is not indicative of what you'll find once you've stepped through its doors... white-washed walls, vintage hotel signs, and flea-market finds. I felt a bit like Alice as if I inadvertently wandered into Wonderland. It has an otherworldly rustic charm you don't quite expect as if you stumbled upon an Italian farmhouse. And if you're not immediately impressed with your initial view of the interior, a series of passageways and hidden corridors lead you into a secondary dining room, not to mention the impressive outdoor-dining patio overrun with decorative vines and lights. The perfect setting for a starlit evening if not for the torrential rains that chased us inside. We chose several starter plates including a scrumptious octopus salad, a frisée citrus salad, and a fried calamari & shrimp combo basket. Then we shared two Neapolitan-style pies - a Margherita and the evening special, a white pie topped with cured meat and truffle oil. Everything was delicious. Definitely a must-visit for those who haven't tried this hidden gem.
435 Halsey Street, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, (718) 574-0010
Take the A/C to Utica Avenue and walk.