Greenpoint has been starving for a restaurant scene that goes beyond pizza, pierogies and bullet-proof Chinese joints for years. Last summer the neighborhood started to get more delicious with the addition of The Lobster Joint’s fine lobster rolls, fried clams and superlative happy hour, as well as Adelina’s Roman-inflected pastas, fried pizzas made with fresh ingredients and local, organic flour, and cozy wine bar with several options on tap. Then this summer, in the span of mere months, Greenpoint sprouted seven new restaurants, two new bars and three new shops (including Spina, which sells only plants, donuts from Dough and espresso). We checked out six spots that are worth a trip on the G train, the ferry or even the weekend G shuttle. Yes, they’re that good.
Of all the new openings in Greenpoint, the addition of The Bounty has been the quietest, which seems to fit its understated take on seafood. While the dining room is playful, with a sail strung across the ceiling and vintage dressers with open-and-shut drawers forming the quirky back bar, its approach to food is often less-is-more. In specials like the fluke crudo, dressed in citrus with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and corn, this approach is called for, and scores. The whole grilled fish (dorade on my visit) with shaved fennel and grapefruit is deliciously charred and light–perfect for a purist, but not a thrill-seeking palette. Even when specials do take a fancy turn, like wild striped bass belly poached in duck fat, the result isn’t as deep and bold as you’d expect (and that’s with a heap of corn salad studded with smokey, pickled jalapenos). But it is all very solid and fresh, and the good cocktails, attentive servers and nautical vibe help turn up the volume a bit.
131 Greenpoint Ave. (near Manhattan); 347-689-3325
Evan and Oliver Haslegrave, who own the Greenpoint-based hOmE design firm, have become semi-official neighborhood restaurant outfitters after prettying up favorite spots like Manhattan Inn and Paulie Gee’s. Now, the brothers have opened a place of their own, snaring some Brooklyn Star vets to run the kitchen at Alameda, which opened recently in the former Greenpoint Coffee Shop spot. The space, as you might expect, is beautiful, with a dark wood and tile design centered around a gleaming white u-shaped bar. The food lives up to its surroundings. An opulent-without-getting-too-fancy mix of small plates (radishes with raw goat cheese, bourbon maple syrup and farro), seriously intense entrees (a foie gras breakfast sandwich—for dinner—with bacon, egg, smoked cheddar, pickled shallots and apple butter), and their signature, a gooey, In-N-Out-inspired toasted-bun cheeseburger that competes with the best in the borough, and is a fair deal at $9.
195 Franklin Street (corner of Green); 347-227-7296
Tucked away at the very end of Greenpoint Avenue, almost to Transmitter Park, River Styx feels like a discovery when you walk through the door into an intimate restaurant with an open kitchen and a gorgeous dining room that stretches back much further that you would imagine from the outside. Dennis Spina, chef at the Roebling Tea Room, is at the helm, and his cryptic menus (anchovies that have been sitting by a fire, anyone?), aggressive seasoning and offbeat-but-genius ingredient combinations are very much in evidence. The menu is studded with easy going dishes taken to a new place, like the scarfable nachos, squid suave (like classic fried calamari, but with spicy-savory suave sauce in place of marinara) and the big chef–a mini pizza that’s deliciously puffy and gooey from the wood fired oven, which lends depth and flavor to meat and vegetables alike. The menu changes frequently and Spina tells us that Greenpoint has shown a particular affinity for the fish dishes. Great cocktails and a reasonably-priced wine list with lots of natural wine options round out the experience.
21 Greenpoint Ave.; (718) 383-8833
Another Haslegrave-brothers-designed spot, sleek Danish beer bar Tørst joined Brouwerij Lane and Spritzenhhaus to turn Greenpoint into a hops-lovers paradise when it opened in March. Now they’ve added a 26-seat restaurant behind the bar, serving Scandinavian-inspired cuisine like flash-fried Broadbent ham, dusted with vinegar and tapioca powder, and spruce sorbet, with blueberry and yogurt, on a $75 tasting menu. The food is drawing solid reviews–the Food Doc has a rundown of the dish lineup. There’s also a $45 beer pairing and—the first time we’ve seen this—a $25 non-alcoholic beverage pairing. Not sure how many artisan sodas we could stomach in one setting, but we’ll wait and see if that one catches on.
615 Manhattan Ave. (near Nassau); 718-389-6034
It’s gotten plenty of buzz, but Andrew Tarlow’s latest bar still feels like a secret hideaway. It opens onto a quiet corner in Greenpoint, close to the water, with a screen door that lends a casual, we’re-all-friends-here feel. But of course, one flip through the hotel bar-sized drinks menu, and you know serious thought went into cocktails, like the recent special Leche de Tigre, which combines tequila, Chartreuse and variety of other ingredients to a refreshingly herbal effect. The cocktail specials change frequently, and the bar also serves the classics, as well as a fantastic wine list featuring mostly natural and biodynamic wines. Pair them with the great selection of charcuterie, pâtés, cheeses, seasonal dishes like heirloom tomatoes and aioli on crusty peasant bread, and on Monday nights in August, grilled Marlow & Daughters sausages. Tarlow tells us that they will soon add oysters and clams to the menu. And because it opens each day at 8am (adding to Greenpoint’s impressive array of excellent coffee and pleasant cafés to drink in), you can experience a sweeter side of Achilles Heel, over pastries like an almond croissant with a molten, gooey center that will change. your. life.
180 West St. (corner of Green); 347-987-3666
In the past few years the Brooklyn restaurant scene has made it a habit to focus on the extreme–frying everything that can be fried, adding bacon to everything, slapping ever bigger burgers and steaks on the grill. Glasserie’s Mediterranean-inspired, vegetable-driven menu is the anecdote to all that. It’s not a vegetarian restaurant–one of the best dishes is the $66 whole rabbit special for two (though three could share with an additional order of the addictive flakey bread)–but the menu revolves around vegetables, herbs and yogurt-y sauces much more than meat. It’s the kind of food you’ll find in cookbooks like Plenty, Jerusalem and Moro–all written by British chefs who specialize in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. The wine list could use a little work here, but Glasserie is the perfect spot to share three or four plates and then leave feeling pleasantly full, having sampled fresh flavor combinations, without the weight of all that lard-forward New Brooklyn cuisine in your belly.