Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Boerum Hill, and Downtown Brooklyn all converge at the newly opened Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The borough has yet to see the full impact the new stadium will have, but many of the surrounding neighborhoods seem to be diving headfirst into New York’s recent ramen renaissance. Park Slope got Naruto Ramen earlier this year. In Prospect Heights, two Morimoto vets serve the dish at Chuko. Smith Street, just out of the stadium’s reach in Carroll Gardens, recently welcomed Dassara Ramen. While Boerum Hill and Fort Greene await their respective ramen spots, Downtown Brooklyn gets Japan’s iconic noodle dish at the hands of Harris Salat and Ryuji “Rio” Irie.
You know the restaurant is Italian, but that’s only because this town can gossip. Inside, exposed brick and wooden rafters are the only hints at rustic Italian. There is not a stitch of red, white, or green in the dining room at Perla and it leaves Chef Michael Toscano’s food to do the significant talking.
When you walk in to the restaurant you won’t find yourself standing in front of a podium. Your last name doesn’t matter and ‘party of five’ would just be a Jennifer Love-Hewitt reference. There’s no host or hostess and you certainly won’t find a maitre d making pleasantries. You’re water is going to be filtered. So long as it’s not sparkling you won’t be charged for it, and although the restaurant is in Brooklyn there’s no room for strollers. The only conventions Fort Defiance boasts are a front door and a chef.
When you eat at a restaurant that serves foreign fare, the food should act as a portal. It should open doors that warp space and time and take you on a tour of the country’s cuisine. The success of the journey is entirely up to the chef, and in the case of Balaboosta Einat Admony proves to be a wonderful tour guide. We were introduced to her culinary stylings in 2005, when Taim was opened in the West Village out of a longing for the street food of Tel Aviv. Balaboosta results from a desire to serve these authentic Middle Eastern flavors in a more formal setting. The restaurant will have its second birthday this year, though something tells me it’s going to skip the terrible two’s.
Tucked in a corner of Brooklyn, about as close to the nearest train as it is the Lower East Side, Vinegar Hill is a dozen or so streets sandwiched by the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Heights. The neighborhood gets its name from the Battle of Vinegar Hill, which took place in Northern Ireland during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Eight years later, in 1806, the Brooklyn Navy Yard became an active shipyard, and 202 years after that, Sam Buffa and former Freeman’s chef Jean Adamson opened Vinegar Hill House.
When you open a restaurant and quickly find yourself at the center of the food world, it makes sense that the success would yield an offspring. Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone played their cards right and Parm is the ace up their sleeve. It has been up and running right next to Torrisi for a little more than 3 months now. When you walk into the place, however, you get the feeling it’s been a neighborhood staple for years.