… Get a slice at DiFara: Dom DiMarco has been making sublime pizza at his Avenue J hole-in-the-wall for decades, and the pies are better than ever. But nothing — even the greatest pizzaiolo in the land — lasts forever, so get to Midwood before you miss your chance to watch Dom roll out every pie by hand, grate his own fresh buffalo mozzarella, and clip the basil leaves.
DiFara Pizzeria [1424 Avenue J at E. 15th Street in Midwood, (718) 258-1367].
… Have a piece of cake (or several) from Cake Man Raven: Fort Greene’s favorite baker is known for his red velvet cake, but our favorite Cake Man creation is the 7-Up Pound Cake. Its namesake soda is poured into the mix, giving this treat a citrus flavor.
Cake Man Raven [708 Fulton St. at S. Oxford Street in Fort Greene, (718) 694-2253].
… Order more than just cheesecake at Junior’s: This Downtown institution has been around for more than 60 years, but have you ever gotten a meal there? It’s about time you hit up this Flatbush Avenue landmark for a burger or those sublime twin brisket sandwiches (on those fresh onion rolls!). The Devil’s Food cheesecake, though, is still a must for dessert (sorry, purists).
Junior’s [386 Flatbush Avenue Ext. at DeKalb Avenue in Downtown, (718) 852-5257].
… Take a food tour through Red Hook: Make it down to the waterfront in the summertime for lobster rolls from the Red Hook Lobster Pound, key lime pies from Steve’s Authentic and a cup of Stumptown coffee. It’s never too hot for Stumptown.
Red Hook Lobster Pound [284 Van Brunt St. between Verona Street and Visitation Place, (646) 326-7650]; Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies [204 Van Dyke St. at Ferris Street, (718) 858-5333]; Stumptown Coffee Roasters [219 Van Brunt St. at Commerce Street, (347) 294-4295].
… Finally feast at Peter Luger: Brash waiters and a cash-only policy doesn’t make Peter Luger the friendliest steak house in town, but its dry-aged porterhouse is the reason the place has been thriving for more than 120 years. And make sure to get a side of one of the menu’s hidden gems: the thick-cut bacon.
Peter Luger [178 Broadway at Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 387-7400].
… Experience authentic Middle Eastern eats on Atlantic Avenue: Years before there was a Trader Joe’s or Crop to Cup, there was Sahadi Importing Co. and Damascus Bread and Bakery. The sultan of them all is Sahadi, which opened in 1948 and is still the greatest grocery store around.
Sahadi Importing Co. [187 Atlantic Ave. between Court and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 624-4550]; Damascue Bread and Bakery [195 Atlantic Ave. between Clinton and Court streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 625-7070].
… Take a hip-hop history tour: Hip-hop may have started in the Bronx (that’s debatable!), but Brooklyn is home to some of the illest emcees. Hush Hip Hop Tours ventures to the Bedford-Stuyvesant projects where Jay-Z grew up, the studio where Biggie recorded and even the Criminal Court, where several artists went on trial.
The next tour is Jan. 27. For info, visit www.hushhiphoptours.com.
… Appreciate the Narrows Botanical Gardens in Bay Ridge: This waterfront park is ideal for a spring stroll. Our favorite part is the fragrant pathway, a trail of flower that’s the best smelling area this side of the Gowanus.
Narrows Botanical Gardens [Shore Road between Bay Ridge Avenue and 72nd Street in Bay Ridge, (718 748-4810].
… Hang out in old subway cars: It’s a lot more interesting than it sounds. The Transit Museum offers 90-minute guided tours through exhibitions that highlight how the subways were built, the history of trolleys and buses and cool artifacts like old train cars and turnstyles.
Transit Museum [130 Livingston St. at Boerum Place in Downtown, (718) 694-1600].
… Tour Brooklyn’s breweries: Proper alcohol education is a must. Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Brewery, which makes 14 different kinds of lagers and ales, holds tours and tastings on Saturdays. Sixpoint in Red Hook offers a laboratory tour that demonstrates the entire brewing process. And the Kings County Distillery offers occasional tours and tastings, too. Moonshine, anyone?
Brooklyn Brewery [9 N. 11th St. at Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 486-7422]; Six Points Brewery [40 Van Dyke St. at Dwight Street in Red Hook, (917) 696-0438]; Kings County Distillery (35 Meadow St. between Bogart and Waterbury streets in Bushwick, no phone).
… Go to the Giglio festival: There’s nothing more Italian than watching 100 buff men carry that 65-foot Giglio while you snack on fried clams and zeppolies. It’s the highlight of Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s annual feast, a tradition with roots dating back to fifth-century Italy that takes place every July.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast (N. Eighth Street and Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg). For info, visit www.olmcfeast.com.
… Check out the Siren Festival: Even if you don’t like art rock or pop punk, it’s worth going to Coney Island’s annual free rock fest just to see bands with kooky names. Last summer, Cymbals Eat Guitars and Surfer Blood, Ponytail and Holy F*** performed, so we can’t wait to find out who’s hitting the stage this year.
Siren Festival [Surf Avenue at W. 10th Street in Coney Island] For info, visit siren.villagevoice.com/2010/.
… Party with Slavic Soul Party: Slavic Soul Party may be the quirkiest band in Brooklyn. The musicians mash up funk, Gypsy accordion, Jazz and Eastern European Music. The eight-piece group brings its eclectic sound to Barbes almost every Tuesday night.
Barbes [376 Ninth St. at Sixth Avenue in Park Slope, (347) 422-0248].
… Finally check out the Drummer’s Grove in Prospect Park: Listening to the conga players jamming and watching Carribean dancers groove is a quintessentially Brooklyn way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We’d like to get up the nerve to bring our own drum and join in, but making that aspiration a resolution is too bold for us.
Drummer’s Grove at Prospect Park (Ocean Avenue entrance near Parkside Avenue, no phone). For info, visit www.prospectpark.org/visit/places/drummers.
… See a show at the Regina Opera Company: The company’s world-class musical performances in Bay Ridge are a real bargain at $23, especially for such an intimate setting. There are two operas scheduled for 2011 so far: “The Mikado,” a comedy about an executioner, and “The Tales of Hoffman,” about a poet who can’t find love — the ultimate writer’s block.
Regina Hall [1210 65th St. at 12th Avenue in Bay Ridge, (718) 259-2772].
… Catch a Eugene Mirman comedy show: When you think of Brooklyn comedy, you think of Eugene Mirman. The guy started his own wildly successful comedy festival at the Bell House three years ago, named after himself, and starred in Celebrate Brooklyn’s first comedy show this past summer, also named after himself. But you might just know him as that guy who hosts the Sunday comedy show in the downstairs of Union Hall, which he’s done for over four years now. Formerly known as Tearing the Veil of Maya, it’s now called Pretty Good Friends, but it’s still the same great — and cheap — show, regularly pulling in the likes of Kristen Schaal, Jon Glaser and Mike Birbiglia. After a brief holiday hiatus, it’s back on Jan. 16.
“Pretty Good Friends” at Union Hall [702 Union St. near Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, (718) 638-4400].
… See a weird show at the Brick Theater: There’s plenty to choose from at this former auto body shop in Williamsburg, including shows that are part of Fight Fest, the theater’s celebration of on-stage violence. Fight Fest continues into the New Year with “Rapier Wit!,” a Shakespeare-inspired comedy about seven swordswomen in 1607 England who illegally swashbuckle their way through the Bard’s great tragedies. Pretty much everything at the Brick is fun, so you can’t really go wrong (unless you’re expecting “Spider-Man” production values).
Theater at the Brick [575 Metropolitan Ave. between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, (718) 907-6189].
… Hear the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir perform: You don’t have to be into Jesus to enjoy this six-time Grammy-award winning choir (where else in Brooklyn are you going to hear one of those?). More than 10,000 people attend their Sunday performances, and you should, too.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle [17 Smith St. between Livingston and Fulton streets in Downtown, (718) 290-2000].
… Participate in the Mermaid Parade: Sure, everyone loves to play voyeur at Coney Island’s famous half-nude summer parade, but we resolve to actually dress up this year. And that means going the whole nine yards: body paint, pasties, crown and any other nymph accessories.
… Mermaid Parade [starts at W. 21st Street and Surf Avenue in Coney Island, (718) 372-5101].
… Learn how to cook (really cook): If you’re spending way too much money on take-out food, it’s time to head to the Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg for a wide range of culinary classes, from pizza-making to chicken-roasting to the super ambitious pig-butchering (because, of course, you never know when a whole pig is just going to show up and need butchering).
The Brooklyn Kitchen [100 Frost St. between Manhattan Avenue and Leonard Street in Williamsburg, (718) 389-2981].
… Re-learn to socialize in-person: Facebook and other social media sites have killed the ancient art of face-to-face conversation, so this year, we resolve to get out more. For singles, a good starting point would be at Marci Park Bar’s monthly speed-dating event. It’s held the first Thursday of every month at 8:30 pm, but get there at 7 pm for the drink specials. It’s a fine way to loosen up. Another great place is the Black Mountain Wine House on Union Street in Carroll Gardens (it has a fireplace!).
Marci Park Bar [462 Union Ave. at Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 599-4999]; Black Mountain Wine House [415 Union St. at Hoyt Street in Carroll Gardens, (718) 522 4340].
… Take trapeze classes: Learn how to fly with the greatest of ease in at the Trapeze Loft’s $30 beginner class, The school also teaches other carny trades, like juggling and hula hoops.
The Trapeze Loft (29 Wythe Ave. at N. 14th Street in Greenpoint, no phone). For info, visit www.thetrapezeloft.com.
… Shop like a locavore: Urban agriculture is all the rage in Brooklyn, and one of the best farms in the borough is the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint. This veggie oasis hosts a market every Sunday from June to November that features wonderful greens and herbs. The place also offers classes to anyone who wants to develop a green thumb.
Eagle Street Rooftop Farm (Eagle Street at West Street in Greenpoint, no phone). For info, visit rooftopfarms.org.
… Make your own wine: At Brooklyn Winery, would-be oenophiles can learn the entire process, from grape-crushing to bottling to even label-making. Just $600 buys you the course and a 24-bottle case of the wine you produce.
Brooklyn Winery [213 N. Eighth St. between Roebling Street and Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, (347) 763-1506].
… Get crafty: This year, 3rd Ward arts and crafts center is offering sewing, woodworking and even jewelery making.
3rd Ward [195 Morgan Ave. between Stagg and Meadow streets in Bushwick, (718) 715-4961]. For info, visit www.3rdward.com.
… Be an idiot: The race is on! Teams of five jackasses should find some silly costumes and a shopping cart to duke it out in the Idiotard, an annual competition at an unannounced weekend in January that mocks the great Alaskan Iditarod by substituting carts for sleds and people for huskies.
For info, visit www.cartsofbrooklyn.com.