There’s something Brooklyn about this place.
The friendly staff at the new restaurant Hunter’s sports plaid shirts, the men all have beards, and antique diagrams of mushroom varietals and squirrels — the type your grandfather would hang in his hunting lodge — line the walls. Craft beer flows.
But really it’s the Brooklyn appetite Hunter’s hopes to capture — and not just the Brooklyn aesthetic.
“We wanted to incorporate this whole Brooklyn idea that everybody is always hunting for something new,” said Angelo Schifilliti, who co-owns and co-chefs along with his partner Michael Nee.
The two met at Landmarc Tribeca, where Schifilliti served as executive chef and Nee as sous chef. Wanting to head their own operation, the two set up shop in Brooklyn and never looked back.
The menu too has a Brooklyn tilt.
“We decided the route we wanted to go was straight-on American, which has become its own cuisine, especially in Brooklyn,” said Schifilliti.
The winter menu features a number of regional American dishes. To start, you could go for a platter of Stinky’s cheese ($14, Stinky’s is located down the street) or grilled kale with puffed chickpeas, roasted squash, and whole-grain vinaigrette ($12).
A small selections of pastas, all made in house, are an attractive addition to the menu. A plate of agnolotti ($14, $18), prepared with winter squash, sage, pumpkin seeds, and Brussels sprouts, is warm and buttery — it’s comfort food Smith Street-style.
Mains include such options as an organic roasted chicken ($20), an inventive milk and honey braised pork shoulder ($22), and a mushroom pot pie ($18). The Angus beef burger ($15), topped with pickled red onion, Vermont cheddar, and cilantro-Jalapeno aioli, was simple and satisfying, though nothing special in a town where gourmet burger competition seems to be at an all-time high. But a side of herb-coated fries ($5) was particularly memorable: a perfect balance of crisp and fluffy. Other sides include “toast of the day” ($4) and Brussels sprouts with, you guessed it, bacon ($5).
All in all, it seems like moving to Brooklyn has been a positive experience for chefs and owners Schifilliti and Nee.
“We’ve got a lot of neighborhood people in, which is key to what we’re trying to do,” said Schifilliti. “And we’re back in front of the stove doing our passion — which is cooking.”
Hunter’s [213 Smith St. between Baltic and Butler streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 246–2221, www.huntersbrooklyn.com].
Will Levitt is a NYC based food writer. Follow him on Twitter @dormroomdinner.