Thursday, September 25, 2008

Best Of Manhattan????

I just picked up the most recent edition of New York Press, a free weekly that is worth every penny of its price. Actually, it is a pretty decent read and I get my weekly fix of Drinky Crow, although in such a small format I need a magnifying glass to read it.

Anyway, this week's edition had a cover announcing it was "THE BEST OF MANHATTAN 2008" edition.

I almost gagged, considering that a large number of their best ofs seemed to be located in my favorite borough, Brooklyn.

I felt compelled to send them the following email:

Dear Sirs:

May I humbly suggest that your "The Best Of Manhattan 2008" edition was inappropriately named? It seems that a number of your Best Ofs were in boroughs other than Manhattan. My borough, Brooklyn, popped up numerous times including:

Best Straight First Date (Floyd)
Best Shrine To Obsessive-Compulsive Collecting (City Reliquary)
Best Indie Theater (BAM Rose Cinemas)
Best Reading Series (10-Minute Lecture Series at Melville House)
Best Bar For Ambience (Hotel Delmano)
Best Venue to Meet Its Untimely Demise (Studio B)
Best DIY Venue (Market Hotel)
Best Open-Air Venue (The Yard)
Best New Arts Space (Galapagos Art Space)
Best Gentrifying Beer Garden (Franklin Park)
Best Comeback That Kind of Sucks (Red Hook Soccer Fields)
Best Challah Bought Through a Grate After Midnight (Israel Beigel Baking Company)
Best Excuse To Eat With Your Hands (Ghenet)
Best Pile of Pig Served at a Bar (Brisket Pulled Pork Sandwiches at Brooklyn Ice House)
Best Grilled-Cheese Sandwich Eaten While Watching Go-Go Dancers (Barette)
Best Butcher Worth a Trip to Coney Island (Major Prime Meat Market)
Best Demise of a Landmark Brooklyn Bar (Rainbow Cafe)
Best Late-Night Sandwich (Hana Deli)
Best Fancy Pizza on a Shitty Block (Bar Tano)
Best Place to Defile Your Bod (Fly-Rite Tattoo)
Best Dry Cleaners (Ernest Winzer Cleaners)
Best New Place for Good Vibrations (Babeland Park Slope)
Best Book Store (Word)
Best Place to Stock up on Vintage Dresses without Spending a Fortune (Urban Jungle)

Whatever were you thinking?

Let's see if they print it.

Fair, Ferdinando's Focacceria, Fun

Ah, I love the alliteration. About a week ago there was a street fair on Columbia Street, not far from where I live. It wasn't a very big street fair by any means, just a few blocks on Columbia Street and then a few more on Union Street. Still, it seemed to get the neighborhood out and the kids all seemed to be having a good time.

Columbia Street Fair

It was a beautiful sunny day and there was a bit of live music.

Geezers At Play

I am not sure who these guys were, but they were pretty good at covering oldies. Their cover of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" was really dead on.

I always like to keep an eye out for street art and this piece of work caught my eye.

Underwater Pinball

We pretty much covered the whole street fair in less then half an hour but as we hooked up Union Street we spotted this restaurant that looked like a real oldie but goodie.

Ferdinando's Focacceria Ristorante

It really was an oldie but goodie too, having been around since 1904. Having stumbled upon it though, you better believe that I will be back. This is everything that an old, family run, authentic Sicilian restaurant should be. It doesn't look like much has changed since it opened. White painted tin ceiling, a red and white mosaic floor, pictures of old Sicily on the wall, just perfect.

Picture Perfect

Nothing overly fancy, that's for sure. But enough interesting stuff to keep your eye occupied.

Nice Mantle

The menu had a lot of interesting stuff on it and it was too bad that I wasn't hungry enough to try more. Rest assured, however, that I will return. The Trippa, tripe in tomato sauce with peas would be my most likely choice. If I am feeling adventurous I might go for the Vastedda, a Sicilian style sandwich made with spleen, layered with ricotta and grated cheese and then baked.

Don't worry though, they also have a lot for the less adventurous eaters as well. Everything from Penne alla Puttanesca, one of my favorites, to stuffed Calamari. Damn, I am getting hungry just writing this. You don't see Linguini con Seppia (cuttlefish in black sauce) on too many menus.

I actually was planning on having more than the Pulpa all' Insalata that I ordered, figuring that it would be just an appetizer.

Bar Man And Pulpa

This was just excellent. Plenty of octopus marinated in a mild vinaigrette with garlic and some other secret spices. Just delicious. Even with that I could have at least gone for the spleen sandwich, but what the Mysterious Chinese Woman kind of put me over my limit.

Mysterious Chinese Woman And Her Rice Ball

You should never order anything bigger than your head. Rice balls are a traditional Sicilian dish and one that you don't see on too many menus. This one was outstanding. It is called Arancina and it is filled with chopped meat, peas and a nice sauce. As you can see, it is also topped with plenty of cheese and has a tasty tomato sauce poured over the whole thing. Because it only cost $3.50 we didn't think it would be so big and kind of thought it would be like an appetizer. Wrong. After we shared the octopus salad and the rice ball we were too stuffed to order anything else. It probably didn't help that we got a nice bowl of delicious homemade bread as well.

Let me assure you, we will be back here again in the not to distant future and I will keep you posted on our visit. In the meantime, our enthusiasm for Ferdinando's was matched only by that of the guy behind the counter.

Everyone Was Happy

One of the neat things about Brooklyn is that you can always stumble across someplace unexpected. Ferdinando's Focacceria Ristorante was a real find. It might be a bit tricky to find, though, because this little slice of Brooklyn is kind of cut off by the BQE. Be sure to check a map if you aren't familiar with the area.

Ferdinando's Focacceria Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Last Bar

After having a couple of beers at Peter Luger and taking the bus almost home, I decided to get off and have one last afternooncap at taino soleil.

taino soleil

When I first moved into the neighborhood this spot was occupied by Las Tres Palmas, an old style Latin restaurant. Then, in January of 2005 it became Paradisus-121 and was the 6oth bar I visited during my year of 1000 bars. Here is what I thought of it at that time:

60) Paradisus-121

This place just opened about a week ago and was formerly Las Tres Palmas. It is on 121 Livingston just off Adams, which is the main drag if you drive into Brooklyn over the Brooklyn Bridge. By the time you go up another block to where I live Adams has changed its name to Boerum. This, as you can imagine, is a source of confusion to many people coming into the neighborhood for the first time.

The place has been newly remodeled and has a nice bar in front with a sofa by the windows where you can sit and have a drink. They still have a Cuban/Puerto Rican style menu, but the prices have jumped quite a bit. But now there are tableclothes, so I guess it is worth it.

I had a Dewars and soda.

After Paradisus-121 it became Makayla, more of a soul food place. And now, taino soleil, another attempt at a Latin American style restaurant. I haven't eaten there yet, but I will make a point of doing so in the near future and will write more about it then.

The bar was nice and bright and the bartender, I think his name is George, was pleasant enough.

Bar Man And George

The best thing about the various bars that have occupied this spot is that I can literally see them from the door to my co-op. I have to say, though, that I liked it best when it was Las Tres Palmas (The Three Palms). But then I have a predilection for older, darker, and slightly more dive-like places.

The View From My Door

I used to be able to see The Brazen Head from my window, but then they built the Brooklyn Law School Dormitory so all I see is..., well, never mind just what I can see. Let me just tell you, it isn't always pretty. But then I am sure the students there could say the same thing about me.