The ferry tale of Red Hook • Brooklyn Paper

The ferry tale of Red Hook

How sweet it is: Stop by Red Hook’s new gelato spot Dolce Brooklyn. “Dolce” is Italian for “sweet.”
Photo by Jason Speakman

Paint the town Red!

Our next jaunt on the New York City Ferry brings us to Red Hook — a neighborhood of warehouses and gray concrete, and of trendy cafés and bright street art. With its raw industrial-funky atmosphere, Red Hook is unpretentious and exciting.

Come out of the ferry station at the Atlantic Basin, and you’ll find yourself on a bare-looking shipping yard. Take a glance at your right and wave at the Statue of Liberty. Alas, you can’t get any closer to the waterfront from here — it’s private property.

But your first port of call is just a few few steps away — the 79-year-old oil tanker Mary A. Whalen (on Pier 11, Atlantic Basin). On weekdays until 5 pm, you can step aboard the boat’s open deck to sway in a hammock or hold a picnic at one its open tables. And this Sunday, July 9 — and on the second Sunday of each month — she perks up at sunset with live music. The monthly “WaterStories of the Wine Dark Sea” brings Mediterranean-inspired bands aboard and invites them to jam from 9 pm to midnight.

Step through the shipyard’s exit and you will emerge on Pioneer Street, where you will discover Pioneer Works (159 Pioneer St. between Conover and Van Brunt streets), a haven of arts and education. Outside, the center has a cool communal garden you can wander through, and inside you can check out the huge, bizarre trailer park-esque exhibit “Grand Ole Opera,” which has an accompanying series of doom-metal bands — including, this Sunday at 8 pm, a free concert from Brooklyn’s favorite teenage metal band Unlocking the Truth.

Another block down Pioneer Street will bring you to Van Brunt Street, which is lined with bars and restaurants, and each of them oozes personality. The Brooklyn Ice House (318 Van Brunt St. between Pioneer and Verona streets) has friendly pub feel, dive-bar prices with an infamous happy hour, and a spacious back yard for summer swigging. On the opposite side of the street, Kevin’s Restaurant (277 Van Brunt St. between Pioneer Street and Visitation Place) offers a great fish-based menu in a family-style setting. If you want to wind up your visit with a sweet treat, step down the block to the aptly named Dolce Brooklyn (305 Van Brunt St. between Pioneer and King streets), which serves amazing homemade gelato — the Bourbon Chocolate and the Olive Oil flavors are not to be missed.

New York City Ferry at Red Hook’s Atlantic Basin (Ferris Street and Clinton Wharf in Red Hook, www.ferry.nyc). $2.75 per trip.

Pioneering spirit: The garden at Pioneer Works will make you feel like you’ve left the city far behind.
Photo by Jason Speakman

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