Anatomy of a neighborhood restaurant: Ops in Bushwick

Photo: Georgia Kral

Marie Tribouilloy and Mike Fadem | Photo: Georgia Kral

Good. Simple. Made by thoughtful people. These are the criteria that come into play in nearly every facet of the operation at Ops, from the local, farm-fresh ingredients, to the rotating natural wine list, to the ethos of the place.

Marie Tribouilloy and Mike Fadem opened this petite and homey spot next to Variety Coffee in Bushwick, in October of 2016. It’s quickly become a neighborhood restaurant where locals converge for pizza, salads and meat and cheese plates. The centerpiece is the wood-burning oven, sparkling with colorful blue tiles behind the rustic bar.

The pizza is different at Ops, too. Fadem makes it with sourdough, which he lovingly tends to and feeds twice a day.

“We wanted it to be like a classic pizzeria,” Fadem said. “People can’t get enough of pizza.”

The pair wanted a restaurant that was both welcoming and inviting.

“That’s why we do everything ourselves,” Tribouilloy said. “We have a relationship with the customers. We’re both here and on the floor.”

Natural wines dominate the list. Photo: Georgia Kral

Natural wines dominate the list. Photo: Georgia Kral

And the project is “all-inclusive,” said Fadem, from the collaboration between front and back of the house (Marie and Mike are the primary chefs, but they also mix drinks, load the dishwasher and serve; the same is true with other staff), to the gratuity-included business model that ensures all staff receive a living wage.

The pizza is different at Ops, too. Fadem makes it with sourdough, which he lovingly tends to and feeds twice a day.

“All the things that make bread great, I’m bringing that to pizza. A lot of places think about the toppings but the main focus [for me] is the bread,” said Fadem. “It’s 90% of the pizza!”

The Juno. Photo: Georgia Kral

Photo: Georgia Kral

But the toppings are nothing to shrug at either. Take the Juno pie, topped with funky and assertive robiola cheese, thinly sliced potato, garlic and greens. It’s what some might call “healthy-ish,” that new trendy term that means delicious, made from real ingredients and good for you.

The rest of the menu is concise. Most nights there’s a salad-like special heavy on the vegetables, as well as some kind of cheese or meat plate. With a tight budget in mind, they built a small, accessible and enticing sampling of items based on their commitment to local, seasonal and high-quality.

“We’re literally cooking the food we want to eat,” said Fadem.

Photo: Georgia Kral

This ceiling used to be a floor at Union Pool in Williamsburg. Photo: Georgia Kral

Both Fadem and Tribouilloy worked for Andrew Tarlow (Diner, Marlow & Sons, Reynard, Roman’s) and attribute much of their approach to business and beliefs to him.

“As long as we want to be here, and we want to eat it, people will come,” is something Tarlow used to say, Fadem recounted.

Tarlow explained further: “If we are going to create a place that people will come to when they are having a bad day, as well as when they are having a great day, then it must be real and it must be authentic,” he said in an email. “They have to know that we love it there, and that it is our home away from home in order to feel the same way.”

 

Photo: Georgia Kral

Photo: Georgia Kral

That philosophy supports Fadem and Tribouilloy’s desire to be a neighborhood restaurant, too.

Natural wine, which is turning into a trend across the borough and the city, is also a focus at Ops. The rotating list can be purchased by the glass or the bottle and all hail from non-interventionist vineyards. Natural wine, in a nutshell, means the wine is made from naturally-raised or organic grapes and that it hasn’t been interfered with either by added sulfites or sugars, which are commonly found in conventional wines. Most natural wines are made by winemakers who are also farmers, involved in every aspect of the wine from vine to bottle.

The decision to offer only natural wines, came back to the owners’ desires to only buy products from the people that make it and grow it.

“The important thing to us, it’s just still dealing with farmers,” Fadem said. “All [or most] of these people who made these wines, they live on the farm. They’re so passionate.”

Ops
346 Himrod St.
Bushwick

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