It’s one small avenue for man, but one giant leap for the borough’s dining scene. Peter Sclafani (Bar Toto, Luce) has opened the doors of his latest venture, Bar Tano (457 Third Ave. at Ninth Street in Gowanus), a chic, 12-table boite that is serving food and drink seven days a week, with brunch and late night bar hours on the weekends.
But why leap over Fourth Avenue, which logic would deem the next boulevard to fall to the creeping bistro-and-Bugaboo hordes?
“We’re pioneers,” Sclafani told GO Brooklyn, over plastic glasses of Merlot and bites of pizza, two nights before the restaurant’s Feb. 7 opening. “We’re going to anchor this neighborhood.”
Keeping in mind that Third Avenue doesn’t draw the same foot traffic that the neighborhood’s other streets do, Sclafani said he will be keeping everything on his menu — small plates of Italian food, pizzas and paninis — under $15.
And as for the future of the block, which right now boasts a tire shop, a deli and an overall dingy air, Sclafani said, “More will come. Something a bit more appealing than what’s here.”
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While Williamsburg is generally a late-to-wake neighborhood (most brunch places don’t get crowded until around 1 pm), with the arrival of El Beit (158 Bedford Ave. at North Ninth Street in Williamsburg), a new high-end coffee shop, perhaps locals will find themselves awake and properly caffeinated more regularly. Using a Clover, an $11,000 coffee machine that java snobs go gaga for, the shop is less bohemian than neighborhood stalwarts like Verb Cafe (218 Bedford Ave. at North Fifth Street in Williamsburg), echoing the sentiment of Greenpoint’s favorite java joint, Cafe Grumpy (193 Meserole Ave. at Diamond Street in Greenpoint), that the days of the so-so coffee shop are numbered in North Brooklyn.
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Chef Allison Robicelli is thinking big.
“I want to make this the ultimate Brooklyn restaurant,” she said, talking about Aura (8305 Third Ave. at 83rd Street in Bay Ridge), the new tapas bar she opened earlier this month. A Bay Ridge native, Robicelli has done time in tony Manhattan kitchens and as a high-end caterer, but decided to come back to the old neighborhood to serve what she calls “Brooklyn fusion” cuisine. With Asian, Spanish and American influences, the small plates at Aura — including dishes like green tea-poached pears and Merlot-brined chorizo — are meant to capture the international flavor of the borough.
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But onto every plate a little rain must fall. This week we said goodbye to Biscuit BBQ and Cocotte in Park Slope, and Sorrel in Prospect Heights. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn Heights, Armando’s will close on March 16, after 70 years in business.
Armando’s owner Peter Byros told GO Brooklyn, “I am retiring,” and said that a Midwestern chain restaurant would be going into the space, although he declined to name the chain. Neighborhood preservationists, along with state Senate candidate Daniel Squadron, are currently campaigning to save the neon “lobster sign” that hangs over the door.