10 Best Eats in Carroll Gardens, 2012


There’s a lot of good eating in bustling Carroll Gardens, where the neighborhood’s old Italian purveyor, Caputo’s Fine Foods, supplies fresh mozzarella and bread to many of the new Southern-fried sandwich shops and young bistros. Here are my top spots at the moment to stop in for seriously good lunches, on-the-go snacks, and lovely but casual dinners (for good measure, there’s a butcher shop and cocktail lounge in here too).

Added 8/4: With apologies to Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, I consulted a google map for the boundaries. So please consider this a list of great eats from both neighborhoods if you draw the line at Degraw.

10. Van Horn Sandwich Shop
Owner Jacob Van Horn is from North Carolina and his little cafe on the Cobble Hill border turns out simple, Southern-inspired dishes like dainty hush puppies, fried chicken sandwiches with cabbage, and a lovely riff on a BLT, which swaps out the bacon for fried sweet potato. It’s a great, low-key spot to cozy up to the bar with a vinegary pulled pork sandwich and a beer. 231 Court Street, Brooklyn, (718) 596-9707

9. Buttermilk Channel
Owner Doug Crowell zips around this charming bistro on Court Street, keeping wine glasses full, and making everyone in the dining room feel at home. Ryan Angulo’s menu is a celebration of local businesses–pasta and mozzarella from Caputo’s, lobsters from the Red Hook Lobster Pound, and ice cream from Blue Marble. For a sweet deal, visit on Mondays for the $25, three-course menu. 524 Court Street, Brooklyn (718) 852-8490

8. Court Pastry Shop
Brothers Gasper and Vincent Zerilli own this charming Italian pastry shop, popular for its crispy cream-filled lobster tails and old-fashioned cookies. Monster cannoli shells are dark and crispy, with a filling that’s as smooth as cake frosting, but during the summer it’s nice to head back to the freezer for a steep cone of lemon-flavored Italian ice, which eats like a lemonade slushy. 298 Court Street Brooklyn (718) 875-4820

7. Clover Club
Julie Reiner’s lovely cocktail lounge offers a long, well-organized list of fizzes, swizzles and punches, along with some small bites. It’s a pleasure to sit at the bar and watch these serious drinks come together. And the Victorian, wood-paneled parlor in the back is a nice place to linger with drink after dinner in the neighborhood. 210 Smith Street, New York, NY (718) 855-7939

6. Mazzola Bakery
This tiny Italian bakery pulls hot bread from its ovens throughout the day, and there’s almost always a handful of regulars waiting. The long loaves of peppery, salami-studded lard bread, with a thin, shattering crust, are great eaten right away out of the bag while they’re still warm. 192 Union St, Brooklyn (718) 643-1719

5. Smith Canteen
Robert Newton, whose restaurant Seersucker reminded us there’s more to Southern cooking than fried chicken and grits, has a casual cafe just down the street with inexpensive options like $4 hot dogs with kraut and organic condiments, and $7 grilled pimento cheese with cured ham. Baked goods are sunny and surprising, like the chewy sunflower-seed cookies sandwiched with strawberry jam. 343 Smith Street, Brooklyn (347) 294-0292

4. Los Paisanos
This narrow, family-owned butcher shop is one of my favorite spots in the neighborhood (it actually falls just outside of the border, but I don’t get the chance to sing its praises very often!). Father and son Michael and Anthony Affronti are often behind the counter telling customers about their sweet blood sausages, hot Italian links, and small selection of dried goods. Whole piglets are available by special order, and if you don’t see a particular piece of meat you’d like, the butchers will happily cut it for you. 162 Smith Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 (718) 855-2641

3. Court Street Grocers
This wonderful grocery store sources exciting regional food products and puts together fantastic sandwiches throughout the day. The simple grilled cheese marries cheddar and apple butter–between two slices of Sullivan Street Pullman, it’s bliss. Court Street Grocers also hosts BYOB dinners which you can reserve in advance, three courses for $35 (at the moment they’re doing a series of summery clam bakes). 485 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY (718) 722-7229

2. Prime Meats
Brooklyn-based restaurateurs Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli’s German-inspired restaurant is a favorite for its fantastic cocktails, schnitzel, and the heftiest, most over-the-top roasted marrow bone in the city. Long, curvy, and served with a bright wad of gremolata and an entire head of roasted garlic still in the skin. 465 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY (718) 254-0327

1. Battersby
Co-chefs and co-owners Walker Stern and Joseph Ogrodnek run this teeny neighborhood restaurant, where they turn out that scruffy, generous, Brooklyn-style fare you think you’re familiar with, but with real attention to detail and delightful bursts of creativity. Call ahead to book the $65 tasting menu if you want to get a real taste of their style (and avoid waiting for a table). 255 Smith Street, Brooklyn (718) 852-8321