Category: MomandPop restaurants


so-it-appears

So It Appears

Sure, New York City has lots of glitz and glam. Huge buildings and iconic attractions are among its characteristics, but NYC wouldn’t be what it is today, without its dreamers; those who take a chance to pursue their passions with reckless abandon – or those who live by ‘YOLO’ (You Only Live Once). For generations, New York has been built by go-getters and is full of those seeking their ultimate ‘American Dream.’

The same aspirations are true for Frankie Rodriguez and Alyssa Sartor, owners of August Laura, in Brooklyn. Bartending more than 20 years combined in New York City, the couple was blessed to open their ‘dream,’ befittingly located four blocks from where Alyssa’s grandfather (an Italian immigrant) grew up. Paying homage to her grandfather, the living room style bar has been named after him. The deep familial ties are undeniable at August Laura. Family pictures and home-goods are tastefully placed around the room, creating a cozy nightcap for all guests.

Tipples are elegant, intriguing, and satisfying, at the warm neighborhood cocktail bar. Each highlight the individual ingredients whether sweet, bitter, or savory and progress thoughtfully in spirit strength. The signature and nostalgic Amaretto Sour is seriously addictive. Alyssa’s recipe uses egg white and flavorful Nocino walnut liqueur, which adds sophistication and a seductive, creamy element to each sip. Shaved nutmeg heightens the senses and is the perfect garnish for the luscious drink.

The dedicated staff at August Laura pours sippers for patrons nightly, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, while listing to stellar playlists such as Sam Smith, 90s rap, and even a live jazz duo (every Wednesday night).

In its premier year, August Laura is making its imprint because Alyssa and Frankie dared to dream. Each time a customer enjoys their drink of choice, in essence, he or she raises a glass to couple’s surreal American Dream.

Want to know more about August Laura? Check the interview and how to make the buzz-worthy Amaretto Sour on POUR.

August Laura

387 Court Street

Brooklyn, NY 11231

Tidbits:

Jazz on Wednesday evenings

Pop-up Weekend Brunch: Dovecote at August Laura – Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 3 pm (featuring La Colombe coffee, coffee cocktails, and local bakery goods)

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Family Jewels Pizza

If you live in the vicinity of Brooklyn’s eclectic Bushwick neighborhood, or even voyage over the water from Manhattan (gasp!) you know ‘Roberta’s’ and heavenly ‘pizza’ are synonymous. This beloved Brooklyn pizza is as popular as New York City’s legendary bagels. So light and incredibly flavorful, the dough stands up to heavy-hitting ingredients.

Known for its relaxed, funky ambiance that serves up decadent ingredients like Italian caciocavallo cheese and delicious spek, Roberta’s is a favorite of locals and beyond. Surrounded  by refurbished, trendy warehouses, vintage clothing boutiques, and local watering holes, this hotspot contends with the most favored pizzerias in New York City.

The thoughtful selection of wine, cocktails and beer are well-rounded and have an emphasis on supporting local vendors. One such beverage, the Wölffer Rosé Cider from Long Island, is an exquisite cider made in the style of Rosé wine. Tip:this bubbly bev. beautifully complements the Duck Prosciutto appetizer.The unique prosciutto interpretation of using duck compared to traditional ham is brilliant and is deliciously paired with the cider.

Any cured meat begs for bread and Roberta’s perfectly baked bread – flaky outside while magically light and fluffy inside – doesn’t disappoint. Truly, all of the doughy treats: brunch sticky buns, biscuits, and croissants are equally as mouthwatering, lush and baked on the premises. No wonder guests visit in droves, waiting up to two hours for a table sometimes. Unfortunately, reservations are not taken, but calling ahead for the wait-time status doesn’t hurt.

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Duck Prosciutto and Wölffer Rosé Cider

Every pizza is made to order and fired in a brick oven that greets guests upon arrival. Although it’s hard not to order one of each menu item, there are a few must-haves. I recommend the delectable Family Jewels pie  topped with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and prosciutto bread crumbs. If toppings are your jam, try the Spekenwolf with a whopping 14 toppings, including crimini mushrooms, eggplant and ricotta salata.

Roberta’s isn’t a one-trick pony, though. Other entrées like the zesty Sasso Chicken with salsa verde  or the addictive Dry-Aged Wagyu Carpaccio are also  showstoppers. With an enticing menu, regulars are always thrilled to try something different each visit or enjoy their ‘usual’ as if it was the first time. There are so many exceptional restaurants in unexpected places in Brooklyn – and Roberta’s is no exception to this truth. The quirky pizzeria is also a bakery and tiki bar in the middle of industrial and auto repair lots. It’s obvious Roberta’s doesn’t fit any molds but breaks them instead.

Roberta’s

261 Moore St.

Brooklyn, NY 11206

718-417-1118

Tidbits:

Manhattan outpost location: 230 Park in Midtown.

Roberta’s frozen pizza is available in select markets and online grocers.

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Grilled Pork Chop Phó

‘Tis the season for comfort food. As always, it conjures up fond memories, awakens the taste buds and is super satisfying. We all have our go-to favs, but I’ve added different dish to my all-star list – phó – and Shanghi Shack serves up the real deal.

This shack is a local favorite among the NYU, Greenwhich Village crowds and phó lovers alike. No passport or long flight necessary to indulge in this pool of brothy love straight from the orient. Cozy up to a deep dish filled with noodles and grilled pork chop (or your choice of topping). Pick and choose from a spread of fresh lime, basil leaves and beansprouts to enhance the rich flavor of the phó. Or, settle down to the classic, plentiful báhn mì sandwich with Vietnamese ham, house bacon and paté. If you’re more of a vermicelli purist, pair it with tender grilled lemongrass chicken or seasoned soy. There’s a great selection of choices including vibrant salads and fresh juices, but don’t overlook the perfectly fried sweet potato fries with the addictive house mayo sauce – I promise you’ll want it sauce on everything!

As we turn to stews, casseroles, and roasted veggies this time of year, venture out and try a new type of home cooking. It may not be momma’s kind of fare but as long as it’s tasty and brings you to a happy place, she’ll approve.

 

114 MacDougle St.

212-228-0588

Open for dining, pick up and take out orders

**cash only**

1310 Broadway

Hewlette, NY 11557 (Long Island)

Phone: 516-569-2654

You’ve heard of southern comfort but at Hewlett’s best kept secret, Ciao Bella in Long Island, comfort Italiano is served as rich as their marinara sauce. Steeped in a long  (and rather notable) history in the kitchen, Chef and owner Freddy Sammarone puts forth his best five days a week at his debut, laid-back haute. Raised in his father’s legendary restaurant, Ennio and Michael’s (previously in the West Village), Chef Freddy practically fulfilled every position in the family operation. Teamed with his wife Dina, his expertise is modestly, yet exquisitely displayed on every plate, seducing diners as they anxiously dig-in.

Antipasto Trio

Antipasto Trio

The antipasto trio, for starters, isn’t your traditional antipasto but stems from tradition. Showcasing his mother’s famous roasted artichoke, Chef  Sammarone dresses it in breadcrumbs and dried cranberries. The artichoke is roasted to “buttah” perfection and melts in the mouth. Cranberries balance the creamy artichoke as the crumbs added great texture to each bite. Savory baked eggplant and clams rounded out the trio – a great backdrop for the next course.

There’s something to be said about simple flavors and textures. When the right ingredients meet and spices mingle pure magic happens. Such is the case with the stunning squid ink linguini topped with a shrimp filled marinara sauce. Sounds simple, but this winning dish thoughtfully highlights each main ingredient. The al dente pasta with the garlic, ink sauce complements the kick of the spicy shrimp marinara. Good luck resisting the urge to lick the plate once done!

Squid Ink Linguini

Squid Ink Linguini

And of course, a meal isn’t complete without ending on a sweet note. Hands down, the Italian ricotta cheesecake is the best dessert offering. Mastered by Dina Sammarone and inspired by Chef’s father, this awe-inspiring slice of heaven is wonderfully moist, has a light cake consistency and manages to have a dark, golden crust. This cheesecake rivals the best of ‘em.

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake

Although, considered a charming neighborhood spot, it’s definitely on the rise. Genuine, inviting people, scrumptious fare, and family influence equals comfort in my book. Ciao Bella is more than a phrase, more than a restaurant – it’s a way of life.

Tid-bits:

  • Open Wednesday evening – Sunday evening
  • Made to order meals
  • Mindful of food allergies and gluten free requests (with advance notice)
  • Can bring wine but there’s a corking fee
  • No website, just call or walk in!
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