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Simply the best! Mile End leads Bklyn to top of Zagat Survey - Brooklyn Paper

Simply the best! Mile End leads Bklyn to top of Zagat Survey

Noah Bernamoff, a native Montrealer, is about to change pastrami forever, thanks to his soon-to-open “smoked meat” (that’s Canadian for pastrami) shop on Hoyt Street.
The Brooklyn Paper / Gersh Kuntzman

The newest deli in the city is now officially the best deli in the city.

Mile End, the Montreal-style smoked meat joint on Hoyt Street that opened less than a year ago, has vaulted to the top of the most-widely-debated category in the most-controversial food rating system, the Zagat Survey.

Noah Bernamoff’s eatery earned 25 out of a possible 30 points for his delectable pastrami — putting him ahead of Katz’s, ahead of the Carnegie Deli, ahead of Second Avenue.

But the success of Mile End was but a mere appetizer — in all, 11 Brookyn eateries topped their categories in the annual Zagat rankings, which were released on Wednesday.

Finally, the rest of the world — in this case, the 40,569 surveyors in the Zagat universe — is discovering what Brooklynites have known all along: We eat well.

“The quality of food in Brooklyn is just increasingly better — Brooklyn restaurants have taken over a lot of top spots,” said Zagat Survey czar Tim Zagat, who believes that the borough fared so well in this year’s guide because our eateries are more casual and less expensive.

“Brooklyn restaurants are cooking the kinds of food people really love to eat day in and day out,” he said.

Some of the top-ranked eateries — including Midwood pizzeria DiFara, and Williamsburg’s Fette Sau (best barbecue)and steak Nirvana, Peter Luger — have been there before, but the guide includes plenty of newcomers, such as Borough Park’s Pacificana (best Chinese).

But on Wednesday, Zagat was still chewing over the Mile End upset.

“The deli is the heart and soul of New York City,” said Zagat. “That slot usually goes to somewhere like Carnegie Deli. I’ve never been to Mile End and had never heard of it, but boy am I going to go out there and try it now.”

In addition to the 11 spots at the top of each catergory, Brooklyn earned another 20 of the top slots (including four out of eight of the best pizzerias), and 250 reviews in the book overall.

“You know what’s the first thing I did? I said, ‘Yeah!’ ” said Rawia Bishara, who’s restaurant, Tanoreen, was voted best in Middle Eastern for the second time this year. “It gives you a lot of satisfaction for all the hard work you put in. I just didn’t imagine that I would get there.”

The slender burgundy food bible’s accolades are only another feather in the borough’s culinary cap. The past few years have marked the borough’s gastronomical explosion, a slow-but-steady success that could be dated back to the late 1980s with the opening of the defunct eateries Cucina in Park Slope and Patois on Smith Street.

The movement is reflected in two new books this year, the DIY manual, The New Brooklyn Cookbook; and another overview, the Food Lovers’ Guide to Brooklyn.

Now, of course, comes the inevitable backlash. Indeed, some wags are suggesting the the borough’s food scene has finally had its “jump the shark” moment now that a group of restaurateurs have announced a plan to bring the best of the borough’s thriving food and drink scene to the West Village at a place called Brooklyneer.

It’s unclear whether the Brooklyneer will be “Made-in-Brooklyn” kitsch, but the restaurateurs may be missing the point. As chef Eddie Huang of Baohaus, told the Wall Street Journal, if you’re too lazy to cross the river, you probably don’t deserve the food.

Either way, the term “Brooklyn food” no longer only implies the place that you’re eating it — it’s a brand.

Of course, most Brooklynites don’t need Tim Zagat to learn that Brooklyn has the best soul food (Egg) or Middle Eastern. Still, here’s how the Zagat surveyors rated our borough’s best eateries:

Fette Sau (Barbecue, 25 points): Zagat reviewers noted owner Joe Caroll’s penchant for sending “hipsters into meat comas” with the restaurant’s pay-by-the-pound ’cue. Fette Sau has always been one of our go-to spots for serious protein cravings.

Fette Sau [354 Metropolitan Ave. at Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, (718) 963-3404]

Pacificana (Chinese and Dim Sum, 25 points): Reviewers note that here “Sinophiles can ‘feast like emperors’ for ‘peasant’s wages.’” They got that right: the succulent Cantonese cookery here is truly sumptuous.

Pacificana [813 55th St. at Eighth Avenue in Borough Park, (718) 871-2880]

Mile End (Deli and Newcomer, 25 points): Mile End is so good, it was one of our favorite places to eat before it even opened. Clearly, the public agrees. Zagat reviewers noted the “amazing sandwiches” and christened it a “Canadian revelation.”

Mile End [97 Hoyt St. at Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, (718) 852-7510]

Al Di La (Italian, 27 points): Al Di La has long been lauded by those in the know as some of the best Italian around. Zagat praises the “ ‘hearty, complex’ Venetian specialties,” the great staff and affordable prices.

Al Di La [248 Fifth Ave. at Carroll Street in Park Slope, (718) 636-8888]

Calexico (Mexican, 25 points): Zagat lauds this revelatory taco spot as a “cheap,” “addictive,” “pork heaven.” We couldn’t agree more. Calexico is a taco revolution, and we are its followers.

Calexico [122 Union St. between Columbia and Hicks streets in the Columbia Street Waterfront District, (718) 488-8226]

Tanoreen (Middle Eastern, 27 points): The New York Times may have given Tanoreen a single star, but Zagat folks clearly think it’s better than that. One reviewer raved, “There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the fabulous Middle Eastern fare.” Hey, a good kafta is worth its weight in gold.

Tanoree [7523 Third Ave. at 77th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 748-5600]

DiFara (Pizza, 27 points): Those who haven’t ventured to Avenue J are missing out — DiFara sells the best pizza, short of a flight to Italy. Zagaters note that the pies are “works of art” and simply “di best.”

Di Fara [1424 Avenue J at E. 15th Street in Midwood, (718) 258-1367]

Egg (Southern/Soul Food, 23 points): After maxing out the egg puns (“eggcellent,” “eggspectations”) Zagat raves that the Southern eats at Egg are “ambrosial,” albeit “calorie-packed.” Despite the often long lines, this is one place we always come back to again and again.

Egg [135 N. Fifth St. at Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 302-5151]

Peter Luger (Steakhouse, 27 points): Is there any New York meal more classic than a steak at Peter Luger? Probably not. Zagat calls this long-standing favorite “The Godfather of steakhouses,” though we recommend that you make no mis-steak and go to Morton’s instead. The steak is just as good, and the service is better.

Peter Luger [178 Broadway at Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 387-7400].

Habana Outpost (Caribbean, 22 points): To be fair, this honor was bestowed upon both Habana Outpost and its year-round sister, Café Habana, but we’ve always been partial to the bright colored umbrellas, cheap eats and bicycled-powered blenders at the Brooklyn spot. Zagat deems the cuisine “haute street food” and admires the “dirt cheap” prices.

Habana Outpost [757 Fulton St. at S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 858-9500]

Tacis Beyti (Turkish, 24 points): The Zagat guide christens the Turkish food at this Midwood eatery “top-notch,” though decks the décor and service. But with food this good and cheap, really, who cares?

Tacis Beyti [955 Coney Island Ave. at Avenue P in Midwood, (718) 627-5750]

And Peter Luger still has the best steak.
The Brooklyn Paper / Julie Rosenberg

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