A travel journal
to Brooklyn by quirine
Quote: There are some interesting places to visit in Brooklyn: Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Smith Street, DUMBO, and Prospect Park.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 24, 2005
126 Front Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
The restaurant looks like a typical Italian-American pizzeria. The tables are small and mashed together to get in as many customers as possible. The tables are covered with red and white checkered tablecloths, and the pizza-throwers take up the back wall along with the pizza ovens. The sidewalls are wood-paneled and are topped with photos of famous people who frequent the place, as well as pictures of their favorite crooners from Italy.
Sodas come in 16-ounce bottles, and the pizza covers most of the table. The waiters are polite, but definitely no-nonsense. As for the pizza, you'll find the crust is thin and crispy, yet chewy (much like that of other old pizzerias in Manhattan). The sauce is incredibly fresh and tastes of sweetly ripened tomatoes. On top of the sauce are slices of fresh baby mozzarella that melt much nicer than the usual cheap mozzarella you'd find at typical pizzerias. Toppings are $2 and are the same price on half a pie as on a whole one. They include pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, garlic, anchovies, capers, etc. I've tried the calzone once, and although I loved it, crispy crust enveloping a mountain of ricotta and spinach, I would still recommend going for the pizza if you're only going there once. Desserts include the traditional cannoli; however, I tend to stroll over to the pier after a meal here and go to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
Because the pizza is one of the best in the area, there is often a long line. Try to come in the winter and during off hours. Coming Sunday before it opens is a guaranteed way to get seated. If not, be prepared to stand outside until it's your turn. If you're okay with take-out, order and take the pizza to the pier across the street and eat it outdoors. In the summer, this is what a lot of people tend to do. Also note that this restaurant is CASH ONLY and that strollers are NOT allowed indoors due to lack of space.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 31, 2005
19 Old Fulton St.
Brooklyn, New York 11201
The chocolate is cheaper than Godiva but just as divine. They make the chocolate in-house, so it's as fresh as possible. When you walk into the old-fashioned shop, on your left, you'll see a few wrought-iron cafe tables and chairs, where you can enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, cappuccino, or mocha. On the dark, wooden-shelved walls are little plastic bags secured with orange ribbon that include peanut brittle, dark chocolate crispy flakes, and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and almonds. There are also hot chocolate tins, the infamous Big Daddy bar, and the traditional milk, dark, and white chocolate bars.
Look to your right, and there is a huge window looking into the chocolate factory. There you can see the conveyor belts chug the chocolates along and the workers toil away at their chocolate concoction.
The main counter is always hopping with sometimes three employees taking and fulfilling orders. They have a full espresso bar, and you can order a fresh cup of hot chocolate (spicy or regular kind), a latte, a cappuccino, or a mocha. The hot chocolate is extremely rich and tastes like you're drinking cake batter. It's good, but drinking it while eating a walnut brownie proved to be too much for me! Also behind the counter, you'll see croissants, chocolate cakes, and brownies, all of which you can eat there or take out. On the right is a fantastic layout of what looks like a hundred variations of the bonbon, including flavors such as "liquid caramel", "earl grey", "hazelnut" and tons more!! You can create your own specialized box containing all your favorites (12 pieces for $13 and 25 pieces for $24). Not only are the bonbons delicious, but they are gorgeous, each one having its own little shape and design.
If you need help, don't be afraid to ask the staff for help. They'll provide you with their recommendations.
Go across the street to enjoy Jacques's new bakery, Almondine. You'll find little fruit tarts, chocolate mousse, napoleons, and various little cakes. They also offer muffins, croissants, baguettes, espresso, and on Sunday (when the chocolate shop is closed), you can get the famous Jacques Torres hot chocolate.
After shopping for the goods, go sit in the beautiful Empire-Fulton Ferry Park (just around the corner) and enjoy your fresh chocolates with a stunning view of lower Manhattan, the bridges, and the old tobacco warehouses.
Jacques Torres Chocolate Factory and Shop
66 Water Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
718 875 9772
When you arrive, you’re greeted with a smile, a basket of French bread (which they’re likely to refill if you gobble it up), butter, and a carafe of tap water. The menu is simple but offers many interesting dishes. For example, you can find typical French fares, including goat cheese salad with beets, steak frites, and croques monsieur; but they also offer grilled mahimahi fajitas, a Cuban sandwich, and a pressed grilled chicken sandwich with avocado, mayo, tomatoes, and lettuce. For dessert you can try one of the many sorbets or stick to the traditional crème brulee. The prices for sandwiches are less than $10 and they come with a side salad. The entrees range from $12 to $17 (or so). Since this restaurant is owned by a Frenchman, I’d recommend sticking around for the dessert and coffee.
For brunch they still have many of the sandwiches available, including a thick hamburger with your choice of cheese, but they also offer dishes such as eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, omelets with various toppings, and pancakes with fresh berries and syrup. I love the eggs Benedict because they use bacon instead of Canadian bacon.
As far as restaurants go in this neighborhood, this one really is a favorite. You simply can’t beat the fantastic menu, the prices, the atmosphere, or the wait staff.
Note that this restaurant is CASH ONLY.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 2, 2005
214 Smith St.
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Restaurant | "La Rosa & Son"
The entrance is on Smith Street. The first few tables in front of the pizza oven are for slices and parm sandwiches. Go beyond the wood-paneled partition and you'll be seated in a small but cozy area for a real sit-down meal. The menus are slim and simple. Reingold’s by the pitcher are dirt cheap (the Brooklyn hipster scene is currently digging the new Pabst Blue Ribbon and Rheingold craze). Soda comes in the can with a plastic cup o' ice. This place is like the no-frills, old-style pizzerias in Brooklyn without the nasty waiters and grimy decor. The walls are lined with vintage plastic plates in the shape of fish, as well as photographs of what look like the old country.
The main courses include pizza, including pizza-for-one, chicken parm (on bread or as a dish), various delicious calzones, spaghetti and meatballs, baked rigatoni with veal ragu, eggplant parm, and cheese ravioli with portobello mushrooms and red sauce. The pizza crust is a combo of crisp and chewy, the sauce is simple and fresh, and the cheese is sliced fresh baby mozzarella. The food is never too intricate and is what I would call comfort food. Sometimes you just want a bowl of spaghetti with meatballs and a beer without having to make it yourself or go to an expensive restaurant.
Watch out for daily specials noted on the signs outside or inside. Desserts are often different every night and include cheesecake or tiramisu.
I recommend this restaurant for those who are looking for a quick, affordable meal on Smith that is still very tasty and in a cozy atmosphere.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 12, 2005
La Rosa & Son
98 Smith St.
Brooklyn, New York
Restaurant | "Bubby's"
When you arrive, you'll receive water and a biscuit with homemade jam, just enough to get the mouth watering. The brunch menu ranges from huevos rancheros to eggs Florentine to burgers to sandwiches. On top of the great breakfast combos (coffee, two eggs, bacon, French toast, and grits), you can order á la carte sides for the kids. I ordered the pulled-pork sandwich. It came with a generic hamburger bun and a pile of pulled pork. I had a choice of two delicious barbeque sauces, one tomato-based and one vinegar-based. On the side was fresh and crispy purple coleslaw and a good number of hand-cut french fries. My boyfriend had the turkey blt with thick, crispy bacon and fresh bread. I had heard mediocre things about this place, but I was not disappointed. It's a perfectly good restaurant with a fantastic view, but it may be slightly overpriced. Everything was around $10 or $13, which is a lot for some eggs and toast considering the same fare at a diner might be half the price.
All the same, given that there are slim pickings in this area, this restaurant is mighty fine for brunch. If you decide not to go here, try Superfine. The menu is a bit more exotic and includes huevos rancheros, blueberry pancakes, mahimahi tacos, and breakfast burritos.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 26, 2005
1 Main St
Brooklyn, New York
Iona's is owned by a lovely Irish lass who's a Jane-of-all-trades. The bar used to be an old-fashioned candy shop, and if you look closely, you can still see the remnants of this from the cracked paint on the windows. The display windows on either side of the door have been replaced by cozy booths. The walls are lined with art for sale from local artists (currently a friend of mine is showing hers).
The rustic-looking bar runs down the side, and beyond you'll find a back area with more booths and seats. If you're Irish, you'll love the treats hidden behind the bar, including imported cheese and onion "crisps," beer nuts, and the odd Cadbury chocolate bar. The bar is fully stocked; they have a good amount of beers on tap and some real goodies you won't find at other bars. My favorites are the Rocar sparkling wine (which comes in a little bottle and costs a mere $6) and the Lambic Framboise (a Belgian beer flavored with raspberries). As the barkeeper likes to say, "It's champagne on a beer budget."
The nice thing about this bar is that it has the feel of an Irish neighborhood bar, but it's not quite as dark and dreary as a typical Irish pub. Iona's is warm, cheery, and very inviting.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 28, 2005
180 Grand St.
Brooklyn, New York 11211
The things to order here are coffees, salads, and paninis. The kitchen is pretty much nonexistent, and eating here is simple and no-fuss. Sandwiches include various cheeses and meats and are pressed to heat them up. The ingredients are really great. The gruyere and porcini mushroom sandwich with rosemary ($8) was incredibly flavorful and fresh. Next time, I'm going to try the tomato, basil, and mozzarella panini. For breakfast, try the pancakes ($6) or the egg sandwich on ciabatta with a side of hot sauce ($6). Everything was really fresh and very reasonably priced. In the middle of the cafe is a pillar that is a self-service spot with sugar, stirrers, and also a pitcher of water with glasses.
The most interesting thing about this uber-hip cafe is the paint store in the back. They have everything an artist needs to get back to work after a coffee and a snack.
If you're in DUMBO and you're in the mood to lounge for a while with a coffee, skip the Starbucks and support this local joint. You can sit as long as you like and simply enjoy the day as it creeps by with a paper and a big mug of really good coffee.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 20, 2005
Brooklyn General Store
111 Front Street
Brooklyn, New York
Upon walking through the makeshift wooden entryway, you come across a large outdoor patio. In the front are a few wooden benches for those who have to wait for a table. Farther down are outdoor tables, a bit wooden and shoddy, but contributing to the tropical feel of the restaurant. Heaters (like the ones you often see in Europe) are placed outside when it gets chilly in order to keep this area open. Farther down is an area that's in a tent-like contraption. It has an outdoor feel, but none of the mosquitoes. Inside the restaurant is a rustic wooden bar, a wood-burning fireplace (for in the winter), and walls lined with random art (including ‘70s velour paintings).
The menu offers appetizers such as Mexican cheese fondue, guacamole, and chips and "wimpy" or "hot" salsa. For entrées, you can go á la carte and order tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, or burritos with your choice of a filler: chicken, pulled pork, pulled beef, and vegetables. Sides include roasted corn and beans with rice. For real entrées, you can expect salmon and shrimp with mango salsa or steamed mussels with beer. My favorite is the pulled beef with olives on a quesadilla. Having that with a pomegranate or guava margarita and I'm full. The corn-on-the-cob comes charred and covered in oil and real Mexican cheese. The ingredients at this restaurant set it apart from your local dive. They really have fresh cheese, salsa, and guacamole, which I think is key in Mexican cuisine.
For a night out with a few friends, order a pitcher of white or red sangria, enjoy dinner under the stars (if you can see any!), and talk the night away. This is NOT a romantic restaurant. It's a place you want to go with some close friends or family. Just make sure you come early, late, or during the week if you don't want to wait too long. And, as with most Brooklyn restaurants, this place is CASH only.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 21, 2005
269 Pacific Street
Brooklyn, New York 11231
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 19, 2006
ABC Carpet and Home
20 Jay Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Attraction | "Transit Museum"
On the immediate left is the gift store loaded with subway paraphernalia, including T-shirts for all sizes, umbrellas, stuffed bears, cuff links, purses, and many railway-oriented toys for children.
Walk into the museum/subway station and pass old turnstiles that vary in age. A sort of interactive tunnel runs along the side that details the creation of the Brooklyn Bridge and shows how it was a real sacrifice and a huge accomplishment for the people of the city. There is also a lot of history about the trolleys that once ruled the city streets.
In the back they showcase the bus system with maps along the walls and the front of a bus that children can sit in to play bus driver.
Go farther downstairs to see the old subway cars. There are two tracks, and the old cars are lined up. The cars are from all different eras, and you can walk through each one of them, experiencing what it would be like to ride the rails throughout the last 100 years. The oldest cars have woven straw seats, and the first air-conditioners were little fans hanging from the ceiling. The ‘50s industrial boom made cars more functional and sleek. From then on, you might recognize many of the subway cars as they might still be running!
This is a really fun place to hang out for a few hours. It's close to downtown Brooklyn, including Smith Street.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 3, 2005
New York Transit Museum
Boerum Place And Schermerhorn Street
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
Attraction | "Atlantic Avenue Shopping Center"
Last year, an addition was completed, and the mall has begun to revive. The new addition has the famed DSW discount shoe chain. Endless aisles of shoes at discount prices for women, men, and children include brands such as Cole Haan, Puma, Merrell, Rocket Dog, and many, many more high-heeled designer shoes.
On the main floor, you'll find a Payless Shoe Source, Mandees, Game Stop, McDonalds, Starbucks, The Children's Place, and soon a Stone Cold Creamery and Guitar Center. On the second floor is a Daffy's (New York discount store that sells designer duds on sale, most being from Italy), Rockaway bedding, and the much anticipated Target. The Target is two full floors but remains smaller than most Targets in less urban environments. Still, it's great to have an alternative to the corner bodega or grimey grocery store in the neighborhood. Also, there's something to be said for not having to leave Brooklyn to get the shopping done!
On the third floor is a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant for the kiddies. It appears to be a self-service place with a bunch of arcades...the perfect distraction for kids after a long day of shopping.
Below the mall is train station that has trains departing to all parts of Long Island. This whole mall and station is brand new, and I'm looking forward to making trips to Long Island without having to go all the way to Penn Station in the city.
Also underneath the mall is a subway station with the 4, 5, N, Q, R, B, D, 2, 3, and M trains all stopping there. There are also a number of buses in the area that go straight through the Fulton Mall.
The shopping center can get really busy, so I tend to go in the evening or early in the morning. You can find really great bargains if you have the patience to look around. It's our little slice of Middle America consumerism... which we love to hate but can't/don't want to do without. Living in a big city, you quickly realize how much those big malls are convenient and easy on the wallet. The great thing about Brooklyn is that you also have the option to do the opposite and visit the butcher, the baker, and the vegetable man to get all the shopping done. Just hit Court Street in Cobble Hill.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 20, 2005
Atlantic Terminal Mall
139 Flatbush Avenue
Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Weave in and out of the smaller streets between Smith and Court, and you'll find old brownstones and stoop sales on the weekends. Young parents are everywhere, and children are often dressed better than the parents. This is a delightful neighborhood to stroll through and explore.
Check out this link for restaurant and store locations.
Walk down to the water and you'll pass a few cool furniture stores and hit the ABC outlet. Turn left, walk under the bridge, and you'll notice a few hip shops, like Jacque Torres Chocolates, West Elm, etc. There's a great park running along the water with a fantastic playground for kids (shaped like a pirate ship). Keep going and you'll see the old tobacco warehouses, now kept empty, on the park. Beyond that is the River café, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Grimaldi's, and the Pier. This is a fun little walk that will allow you to walk the cobbled streets and see old tram lines while looking up and admiring the bridge structures.
Take a right in the beginning instead of a left (on Water Street) and you'll run into an Old Manor that was built for the person overseeing the Navy yards. This area, also known as Vinegar Hill, is almost like an old ghost town. Things are changing quickly, as new buildings pop up and the yuppies move in.
Just as in Europe, the restaurants in this area are right on the beach. Many waitresses stand to lure you in. I had a beer and just watched the water and the people walking by. This is a really relaxing and fun experience.
Walk further and into the streets and you'll see suburban-type homes with miniature manicured lawns. Head over to Sheapshead Bay for a beautiful view, dinner, or maybe some shopping at Loehmann's. This walk can be done in one day and is definitely worth the trip.
Brightwater and Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11235
Brooklyn, New York