When Franny’s, one of Brooklyn’s long-beloved pizza institutions, moved into a new, larger space two years ago, owners Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens branched out into the original spot with Marco’s, an upscale Italian trattoria. When it opened, I found Marco’s quite tasty but definitely too pricey for the neighborhood, and while it got some stellar reviews, the neighborhood seems to have agreed, as Marco’s shuttered just over a year later.
The Franny’s team has held on to the space though, and their latest incarnation seems to have taken that criticism to heart. Rose’s Bar & Grill, which debuted a few weeks back, couldn’t be further from the refined, four-course ambiance that set the tone at Marco’s. “Watch Baseball. Drink Beer. Eat Burgers” read the clapboard sign outside on a recent evening, aptly summing up the un-fancy atmosphere at this new spot. Inside, they’ve done a great job repurposing the small space into a much more casual setting. The elegant marble bar from Marco’s has been replaced with a long, classic wooden one, accompanied by a colorful vintage decor scheme and a row of cute, two-person booths salvaged from what appear to be high school auditorium seats. There are a few larger tables in the front and back, plus the beautiful rear garden remains. At the bar, baseball is indeed on TV (a rarity these days, to find a hip new bar with a TV ’round these parts!) and patrons can lean back in their bar stools and enjoy the $8.50 drink special–a can of Bud and any well shot. (There are tastier brews on tap as well, from the likes of Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing.) The only vestige from Marco’s that remains is a focus on classic, Italian-influenced cocktails, but here with a modern spin, like Amaro di Angostura with a salty tonic.
Simple, well-executed bar snacks like fried olives stuffed with fontina cheese, wrapped in ham and breaded in panko ($6 for 6 olives) fill the menu. It gets even simpler from there, à la blue cheese dip with veggies ($6). When I see something like veggies and dip on a Brooklyn menu these days, I half expect sous vide vegetables with some kind of dehydrated micro-dip, but no, this is a straight-up plate of crudité. There are other daily changing selections, ranging from snacks like cheese-y toast to a more intense, spit-roasted pork sandwich and even a hot fudge sundae.
But pretty much everyone in here is eating the burger and fries–and with good reason. Salty, juicy, not too giant with a healthy serving of gooey cheese and a sesame-seed bun, it’s perfect bar fare, with nicely crisped fries on the side. The one, slightly odd note is that only snacks and drinks are served Mondays and Tuesdays, while the whole menu is available Wednesday to Sunday.
With Springsteen on the sound system and beers served in giant frosty mugs, Rose’s couldn’t be a further cry from the restaurant that preceded it. Judging by the buzzy crowd filling it to the brim on a recent weeknight, most locals agree that this is a much better fit.
295 Flatbush Avenue (between St. Marks and Prospect); 718-230-0427; rosesbklyn.com