All beefed up

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Alex Garcia, chef at Carniceria — the new restaurant in the former Porchetta space on Smith Street — has come clean about his checkered past.

For the first time, he’s speaking publicly about his 2003 arrest for allegedly being part of a drug ring based out of a Midtown restaurant where he was working.

“It was a moment of real despair,” Garcia told GO Brooklyn. “And I just felt embarrassed.”

Garcia was found guilty of money laundering but served no time.

“The only thing I’ve ever been is a chef,” he said. “I was never a drug dealer. The crime was money laundering and not what it looked like.”

Still following his passion, Garcia has teamed up with restaurateur Marco Rivero, whose last chef was fiery petit larcenist (alleged, that is) Jason Neroni.

Garcia and Rivero have been pals since the days when Rivero waited tables in Garcia’s first restaurant, but opening the Argentinean steak is their first project together since.

Carniceria will be serving what Rivero called “really big plates” of grilled meat. Paired with it, Rivero is offering bold “New World” wines that top out at $46 per bottle.

“We want people to go nuts here; eat tons of meat, take wine home, just have a great time,” said Rivero mentioning the special take-home bags he’ll give diners who don’t finish their bottle. Besides steak, there are Nuevo Latino-style appetizers like bleu cheese, crab and roasted corn arepas and wild mushroom paella, as well as lush desserts like crepes with Nutella-like chocolate hazelnut filling and dulche de leche sauce.

So, for Carroll Gardens’ diners, it’s in with the beef and out with the pig. Pork is so last year anyway.

Carniceria (241 Smith St., at Douglass Street in Carroll Gardens) accepts MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $17– $23. Dinner is available daily. Lunch will be served from 11 am – 4 pm beginning May 28. Brunch will be available starting mid-June. Subway: F or G to Bergen or Carroll. For information, call (718) 237-9100.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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