Something’s fishy! Old school appetizing joint opens on Smith Street

Something’s fishy! Old school appetizing joint opens on Smith Street
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Stop your schlepping, Smith Street!

Shelsky’s Smoked Fish in Carroll Gardens is Brooklyn’s answer to the gravlax pushing, whitefish salad peddling, sour pickle purveying Lower East side businesses of yore.

“I got tired of trekking to Russ and Daughter’s in Manhattan to get the kind food I grew up with,” said owner — and Second Street resident — Peter Shelsky. “Jewish delis and appetizing are such a huge part New York’s fabric, yet there was nowhere in Brooklyn to get it besides Fairway.”

How big a deal is the old-school fishmonger? No less an authority than Borough President Markowitz showed up at the official opening on Sunday to cheer Shelsky’s “decadent delectables”: belly lox, Gaspe Nova, pickled herring, bialys.

Better than the foodstuffs is the fact that the 32-year-old owner is no Old Man Shelsky, muttering Yiddish expletives under his breath as he begrudgingly wraps up your quarter pound of salmon.

The Kurt Gutenbrunner protégé and Eleven Madison Park alum also owns a high-end catering business, Pete’s Eats, and plans to put his classical training to work as a newly minted slinger of smoked fish.

“We’re a bunch of foodies living in Brooklyn right now; it’s like Berkeley in the 1980s,” laughs Shelsky. “Everything is local, everything is homemade. So we’re keeping it in that vein with really high quality stuff. We want to serve classics, but with a contemporary twist.”

Shelsky plans to make as many of his products as possible in house; pickled herring, all of the salads and spreads, some of the smoked salmon, baked goods like rugaleh, babka, and macaroons, and eventually, even the bread.

He’ll also carry a line of gut-busting, tongue-in-cheek sandwiches, such as the eponymous Peter Shelsky — a childhood creation piled high with smoked salmon, scallion cream cheese, sable, and herring with cream sauce and onion — and the The Dr. Goldstein Special — chopped liver and apple horseradish sauce served between two schmaltz fried potato latkes.

“It’s the Jewish answer to the KFC Doubledown,” jokes Shelsky. “I almost uploaded it to that website, “This is Why You’re Fat.”

He’ll also demonstrate a lighter touch with his line of ginger- and clementine-infused products, created in honor of his two young girls.

It would seem a Shelsky and Daughters might just be in Brooklyn’s future.

“Hell yeah, I’d love that!” said Shelsky. “Ginger is only six-weeks old right now, but Clementine is 4, and she’s so into this. She brings pickled herring to school all the time.”

Luckily, she won’t have to leave the neighborhood now to get it.

Shelsky’s Smoked Fish [251 Smith St. between Douglass and Degraw streets in Carroll Gardens, (718) 855 8817].

Smoked whitefish, a delicacy from Brooklyn’s earlier golden era, is back.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini