Hedonism at Brooklyn Star

Brooklyn Star in Williamsburg has been likened to organic soul food. I remember in the Nineties going to the Backyard Barbecue Grill in Pittsburgh. A very basic restaurant, just a man and his wife along with a very large coal grill. For five dollars you would get a styrofoam platter with a half chicken, two slices of white bread, baked beans, and some kind of warm, wet green stuff and maybe some macaroni salad. It was amazing, but Brooklyn star is something else entirely.

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The Brooklyn Star offers American comfort food, in a beautiful space, with quality recipes and ingredients. Where an American classic like chicken fried steak is finally given the respect it deserves! From their website: seasonal menu based on the philosophies, techniques and traditions of American home cooking. Yes all this and more. What they don’t mention is the fantastic cocktails, (pefect rye manhattans and a legitimate sloe gin fizz for example, (with real egg whites), and a super-fun ambience. The concept is summed up in this appetizer, instead of offering chicken wings, at Brooklyn Star they have fried saucy pig tails.

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The chicken fried steak here was amazing. The portion size was large, even for me, with two very large pounded filets. As a side, the brussel sprouts cooked with ham were a perfect match.

The beef short-ribs (below) with a beet dressing was juicy and tender, with that little bit of sweet and sour tanginess from the beets to add some zing.

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Brooklyn Star isn’t the kind of place you would or even should go to every night, but once a month, if you are feeling hedonistic and want a taste of American comfort, definitely make a stop here and chant: USA! USA!

Brooklyn Star 593 Lorimer St., Brooklyn, NY 11211 near Conselyea St.

Da Bucatino, Testaccio, Rome

Da Bucatino was one of my best food experiences on my recent trip to Italy this fall. It is located in Testaccio, Rome’s meat-packing district. Unlike the Manhattan Meat-Packing district here in NYC, Testaccio sensibly retained the traditions of the butchers in the area, using distinct and unique cuts of animals, as well as organ meats which regularly offered at local restaurants in the neighborhood.

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Testaccio is named after Monte Testaccio, Rome’s artificial eighth hill made out of discarded ancient clay vessels (amphorae) which were used to transport ancient goods like wine and olive oil. These vessels were broken and stacked perfectly on top of each other creating a gigantic hill. An amazing feat of I’m sure painstaking work done by an army of ancient slaves. Another unique sight in this neighborhood is the larger-than-life Eataly, as well as a really nice farmers market (bizarrely located next to the communist party headquarters), and an ancient pyramid crypt which the old city walls use as a buttress. Today there are also a large number of night clubs and restaurants built into Monte Testaccio. You can usually catch a glimpse of the ancient amphorae at the back walls of each restaurant that has been dug into the hill.

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Da Bucatino is named after the long, thick bucatini pasta, which is a spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the centre. The name from the Italian buco, meaning “hole.” Bucatini is common throughout the central Lazio region, particularly Rome. Here it is given the respect this, my favorite of all pasta deserves. Every pasta plate on the menu has bucatini featured, and each dish is loveling rendered with traditional favorites like amatriciana sauce made with pancetta and tomato. Seriously, this is the best version I’ve ever tasted. Also, they offer a very casual and generous all-you-can eat antipasta course. It’s hard to even have a small bite of everything without getting too full for the next three courses. Make sure you have plenty of time to rest in between, you may need three full hours to eat here comfortably!

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Of course being in Testaccio, we had to get the tripe in spicy tomato sauce. Tender, perfect, and delicious. Proof!

Via Luca della Robbia, 84 00153 Rome, Italy +39 06 574 6886

Deep-Fried Mac and Cheese

I love this idea, from Biker Jim’s in Denver, Colorado. Deep-fried macaroni and cheese sticks!

Biker Jim’s is a sausage restaurant in Denver, that specializes in wild game. I had the bison, but there was also elk, rattlesnake, and reindeer on the menu. The best part is they slather everything in cream cheese and caramelized onions cooked in beer. Definitely a place to stop for a bite in Denver on the way up to the mountains. Proof!

Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs 2148 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80205

Happy Hour and Great NY Noodletown

After a long day trucking around Queens yesterday, I gifted myself with a decent Wednesday night out in Chinatown capped off by a visit to the venerable and amazing Great NY Noodletown on the Bowery in Chinatown, NYC.

I started off at 40 Mulberry at an old school (very 80s) local Chinatown bar. This place was amazing, with a super friendly staff, and bartenders that actually know how to make a cocktail, and maybe the best happy hour I’ve ever seen in the city. Five dollar Manhattans? Yes please.

Above is the spread from Great NY Noodletown. This eatery is nothing but neon lights and fabulous food. They had a chef dedicated solely to the duck station, just slicing duck on a counter in the middle of the dining room. I respect that! Also, they let me build my own noodle dish, which was black beans, egg noodles, fried green peppers and beef slices. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
To accompany my noodles, I procured some duck rolls as a side, which turned out to be the lightest, flakiest deep fried perfection I’ve had in a long time.

This was the delectable, lightly fried shrimp with walnuts, broccoli, and ensconced with mayo. Where have you been all my life? Proof.

Great NY Noodletown 28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013