07/22/15 9:36am
Summer Stroll on 3rd from 2014 (David Chiu)

Summer Stroll on 3rd from 2014 (David Chiu)

If you weren’t able to make to it to our Total Immersion in Bay Ridge last weekend, there are still opportunities to get to know and explore the neighborhood this summer. Once again, Bay Ridge is holding its annual Summer Stroll on Third Avenue, which allows visitors to walk in traffic-free open streets along one of Bay Ridge’s commercial districts on a Friday during the evening hours. Among the highlights offered are cultural exhibitions, vendors, chess for kids, author signings, and of course food. For this year, the stroll is broken up into two routes for certain dates: from 80th to 90th streets this Friday, and 69th to 80th streets on Aug. 7 and 8. (more…)

03/31/15 2:00pm
An offering from The Burger Bistro: Beef burger with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, and tomato on a brioche bun, with sweet potato strings. (David Chiu)

An offering from The Burger Bistro: Beef burger with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, and tomato on a brioche bun, with sweet potato strings. (David Chiu)

Call me a cheap skate, but I’m someone who feels there is something fundamentally wrong when you have to pay more than five dollars for a hamburger. I mean, it’s just a hamburger for God’s sake, not a filet mignon. Yet, there is that appeal of buying a high-end burger from such popular places as Shake Shack, Five Guys and Umami, perhaps because unlike what you get at fast food joints and diners, there’s more of a premium with the quality of the meat, how it’s cooked, and the type of fixings it comes with. It might make me sound uncouth, but I’ll take a hamburger in any form, from the good ol’ White Castle sliders to the deluxe special at a Greek diner.

There does a come point, though, when you do kind of get tired of McDonald’s, and having recently run out of other lunch option in my neighborhood, I decided to splurge a bit and try out The Burger Bistro, a relatively recent joint in Bay Ridge on 72nd Street and Third Avenue. When it first opened, I didn’t think it would last given that Bay Ridge is kind of a blue collar neighborhood that wouldn’t go for a burger that starts at $9.25 (and that is without a side order and/or a drink); also, there is a McDonald’s just a block away. Yet, the Burger Bistro has survived and it draws customers each time I pass by there. (more…)

12/22/14 9:00am
Beet ketchup -- available to stay or go. (Photo: Brooklyn Beet Company / Facebook)

Beet ketchup–available to stay or go. Photo: Brooklyn Beet Company / Facebook)

There’s no doubt in my mind that Bay Ridge has Brooklyn’s most underrated restaurant scene. Ever since cupcake queen Allison Robicelli gave me an intro tour of the nabe’s best holes-in-the-wall this fall, I’ve had a long list of eateries I need to return and sample. Bay Ridge isn’t just about taquerias and falafel spots though. One of the best meals I’ve had anywhere lately was at Brooklyn Beet Company, a restaurant whose New Brooklyn-y name belies an Old World outlook. Owners Maria and Otto Zizak previously opened Korzo in South Park Slope and the now-shuttered Korzo Haus in Manhattan. Ironically, their furthest-out spot is much more intimate than their outposts in more expensive neighborhoods; this one is a very narrow space with a long row of communal tables that seat 24. (more…)

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12/04/14 9:18am

Earlier this year we partnered with UncommonGoods to launch the Brooklyn Flag Project. We challenged design-minded folks from all over the borough to create a flag reflecting their neighborhood, with the promise that the top three would be produced for sale by UncommonGoods. Along with former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Tina Roth Eisenberg–the graphic designer known as @SwissMiss, and UncommonGoods founder David Bolotsky, we helped winnow down a fantastic field of entries to eight finalists.

UncommonGoods awarded cash prizes to the top three winners, but decided not to produce the flags for sale after all–they told us that they had hoped to see flags from a wider variety of neighborhoods, though we thought the entries from East New York, Bay Ridge, Flatbush, Coney Island and Ditmas Park nicely rounded out the multiple flags designed for Greenpoint and Fort Greene–locales that lots of graphic designers call home. Even if you can’t buy one of these to hang from your fire escape, we think it’s worth taking a peek at the winners. And, as a bonus, we’ve added in our favorite entry that didn’t win (we’re suckers for a squirrel).

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11/25/14 12:00pm
Hot chocolate with marshmallows doughnut at Cream Doughnuts. (David Chiu)

A hot chocolate with marshmallows doughnut pairs nicely with a cup of tea at Cream Doughnuts. Photo: David Chiu

When it comes to doughnuts here in Bay Ridge, we longtime residents know where to go for some sweet fried dough. First, there are the mom-and-pop standbys like Mike’s Donuts near 69th Street and 5th Avenue and Leske’s Bakery on 76th Street and 5th Avenue. And of course, there’s always the ubiquitous Dunkin’ Donuts. But unlike such Doughnut Plant in Chelsea, or Doughnuttery in Union Square, Bay Ridge isn’t exactly known for its high-brow variations of the treat beyond the jellied and glazed varieties–at least the last time I checked. (more…)

09/23/14 2:20pm

Ragamuffin-Branding-Banner-Logo

Generally Bay Ridge, where I grew up and still live, is a relatively quiet community, but there are a few events and places we rally around as a neighborhood, like Century 21, Shore Road Park and Halloween trick or treating. The annual Ragamuffin Parade and Third Avenue Festival–two events held every fall, is another Bay Ridge tradition, drawing huge crowds, though if you don’t live here, you’ve probably never heard of it. (more…)

09/08/14 9:46am

Allison Robicelli is running late, but she assures me there was a cupcake emergency. After successfully delivering a last-minute dessert order to a local party, she meets me in Bay Ridge to further Brooklyn Based’s exploration of the borough’s best hole-in-the-wall eateries. We asked Robicelli to help out because she knows pretty much everything there is to know about eating in Bay Ridge—for many of us one of Brooklyn’s lesser-known neighborhoods. Robicelli grew up in the neighborhood and now lives here with her own family. After she and her husband Matt made a name for themselves with some seriously delicious cupcakes sold at various locations around the city, plus a successful cupcake cookbook, they opened their own bakery late last year, and chose Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge as the place to do it.

“When we decided to open a store we looked all over,” says Robicelli. “Clinton Hill, Red Hook…but it never felt right until we looked back in Bay Ridge. We’ve cultivated a sense of community here. People come in and they talk to us for half an hour. I know their first names, I know how they take their coffee.”

Allison Robicelli with husband Matt Photo: Robicelli's

Allison Robicelli with husband Matt. Photo: Robicelli’s

One of Allison’s favorite spots for cheap eats, Taqueria El Puente (9300 Fifth Ave., near 94th St.), is just a few blocks down Fifth Ave. from the Robicelli’s store. The taqueria is a small family-run spot in the shadow of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and you won’t find it in many food guides or restaurant reviews. “Third Avenue is where people typically go out in Bay Ridge,” says Robicelli. “It has the high-end restaurants that reviewers usually write about, but all of the best food is on Fifth.” (more…)

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05/09/14 8:00am

A view of the water and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from the Shore Road walking/bicycle path near the 79th Street overpass.

A view of the water and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from the Shore Road walking/bicycle path near the 79th Street pedestrian overpass. Photo: David Chiu

Technically speaking, Bay Ridge, where I’ve lived for most of my life, is not a suburb like you find on Long Island or New Jersey. It isn’t in the middle of nowhere, you don’t need a car to get around, and there is no mall. But if you find yourself in the more cloistered and tranquil parts of the neighborhood, particularly the beautiful older homes near the water on Shore Road, you can’t help but feel like you’re worlds away from Manhattan. Despite the condo-fication of New York, Bay Ridge has maintained a solid working and middle-class vibe.

“I’d played with the idea of moving out of Bay Ridge to go to Manhattan or something like that,” says Allison Robicelli, the co-owner of the renowned cupcake bakery Robicelli’s and a longtime resident of the neighborhood, “but as I’ve watched Brooklyn change, Bay Ridge became more and more appealing. It still feels authentic, and there’s no inevitable feeling of doom that eventually your rent will triple and all the businesses you love will disappear. We’re a great mix of the old New York that’s quickly disappearing, and the new. I can’t think of another place in Brooklyn I’d rather live.”

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07/16/13 3:20pm
Fri July 19, 2013
Bay Ridge 2012 - Summer Stroll on 3rd

Brooklynites take to the streets at the second-annual Summer Stroll in Bay Ridge. Photo: Inna Trinidad

Let’s be honest: We all wish our neighborhood streets were less jammed with cars and buses so we could cross the road as calmly as that chicken we’ve all heard of. Well, this Friday, June 19, our wishes have been granted, for at least a few hours. Friday marks the first of four installments of the second-annual Summer Stroll on 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge, where from 6pm to 10pm pedestrians have free reign of the asphalt (from 80th St. to 90th St.). Featuring performances from singer-songwriter Dani Mari and classic rock cover band Secretly Famous, as well as a Bay Ridge-centric art project through Bay Ridge Arts and Cultural Alliance, Summer Stroll is sure to be a festive family affair. Modeled after the New York City Department of Transportation’s Summer Streets program and presented by the DOT, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and other city agencies, the best of 3rd Avenue comes out for this event, including Italian pastry experts Monaco’s Bakery, playtime afficionados Kaleidoscope Toy Store and Uncle Louis G‘s ice cream. With more than 100 participants, there’s sure to be something for even the most persnickety Brooklynite.