Spumoni Gardens – Brooklyn 

L & B Spumoni Gardens, a Bensonhurst, Brooklyn staple (opened 1939) has the best squares in New York City.

I’m not sure how to define Spumoni Garden’s squares. They are not exactly a grandma slice, they are definitely not a typical Sicilian slice, it’s just kind of it’s own thing. A Sicilian slice with the sauce on the top. Each square has its own personality; the saucy center square is just as coveted by the grabbing hands at Spumoni Garden’s picnic tables as the crispy corners.

 Another thing to note: Spumoni Garden’s has a full menu’d Italian restaurant indoors, so if you want, don’t be afraid to chase your squares with a chicken parmigiana hero…

According to wikipedia: Spumone (from spuma or “foam”), plural spumoni, is a molded Italian ice cream made with layers of different colors and flavors, usually containing candied fruits and nuts. I actually find it lighter and more refreshing than typical American ice cream, and really a nice way to follow up a heavy carb-filled cheese feast.

L&B Spumoni Gardens 2725 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11223

The Brisket Sandwich from Frankel’s

Frankel’s Delicatessen in Greenpoint, Brooklyn gives even the most famous delicatessens in NYC (like Katz’s) a run for their money. This newcomer into the Brooklyn scene has brought with it some traditional Delicatessen recipes, with care to make them super delicious.

Above is the brisket sandwich, this was a behemoth. I highly recommend getting this; and splitting it with a loved one or else it will be a night-ruiner.

The latkes were crispy and yummy, but were lacking in size. I mean, c’mon it’s made out of a potato… basically the cheapest thing to grow on earth. You can afford to make them bigger or just give me a few more. But hey, the sandwiches are huge.

Above is a side-by-side comparison of the pastrami reuben sandwich with the big brisket sandwich. Both are safe bets. I really think the pastrami here is on par with the best in New York City.

Frankel’s Delicatessen 631 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint Brooklyn

NJ Eats: The Belmont Tavern

There’s really nothing better than some old school Italian comfort food. The Belmont Tavern in New Jersey is just about the most comfortable comfort food you can find this side of Naples. What appears to be a quiet nondescript local bar in Belleville, NJ opens up into a bustling restaurant, with families and couples warming themselves over a plates of macaroni in a dimly lit wood-paneled nooks. There’s a gruff but very friendly staff, and a cast of characters at the bar directly out of “The Sopranos.” Shoot.. I even saw Furio’s signed headshot on the wall.

What to get: The Belmont Tavern is a family style restaurant with big bowls to share for the whole table. Start with a carafe of wine, the shrimp “Beeps” (fried shrimp in spicy marinara sauce) and the clams oreganto; then the cavatelli with “Pot Cheese” and an order of the dangerously spicy sautéed hot peppers. Finish with the Chicken Savoy and some espressos. Bread and escarole salad for the table is included.


Clockwise: Chicken Savoy, Shrimp “Beeps,” Clams Oreganto, and Cavatelli with Pot cheese.

Pro Tip: Get there early on the weekend! There will be a crowd. Please note: special thanks for the tip Paulie G!

Belmont Tavern, 12 Bloomfield Ave, Belleville, NJ 07109