Clinton Hill’s got soul, Williamsburg wins Smith, and a top pit master goes up in smoke in this post-holiday serving of saucy gossip.
Pit stop: It’s the biggest piece of Fatty ’Cue news since the BBQ joint was shuttered (albeit briefly) by the Department of Health last April. Diner’s Journal reports that pit master Robbie Richter — who also helped jumpstart Hill Country in Chelsea — has stepped away from the smokers after one year on the job. There is no word yet on who Richter’s replacement will be, or where he’s heading next, but restaurant spokesman Kate Telfyan told us she’s “sure he’ll keep on keepin’ on with the BBQ-ing!”
Daily bread: Williamsburg may have lost a meat master, but they’ve gained a panini prince. Jason Benton — the restaurateur behind Manhattan’s ‘ino and ‘inoteca — is trading pressed sandwiches for grilled toast at his newly opened Betto, in the old Ciao Bella space on N. Eighth street. According to Grub Street, an ever-changing selection of bruchetta will be at the heart of the refined Italian menu, made on house-baked filone bread. Buona fortuna, Betto!
Toni-no: Tonio’s, the old-guard Italian restaurant on Seventh Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets, has been a Park Slope mystery for quite a while now. It was like the red-sauce slinging equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory — nobody ever came in, and nobody ever came out. And yet, somehow, it held onto its piece of prime real estate for 19 years, as the neighborhood changed around it. So it came as a bit of a shock when the restaurant abruptly announced it was closing — leaving neighbors and bloggers wondering why. Effed in Park Slope theorized about owner Tonio Gaita’s failing health, and shared intel that a Dunkin’ Donuts might be moving in, but the Gaita family has yet to substantiate the claims.
Fish fry in July: Char No. 4 is ushering out its weekly BBQ Night to make way for a month of Po’Boy Wednesdays. The whisky-loving Smith Street restaurant will serve up fried shrimp or oyster sammies with a side of Zapps chips and an Abita beer for $20 every Wednesday evening in July — and though our editor protests that he’s gotten the same meal in New Orleans for half that, somehow, we don’t think he was factoring in the cost of a plane ticket.
A fine kettle of Smith: We knew it was only a matter of time before chef Nate Smith — formerly of Dean Street in Prospect Heights — made a reappearance after his not-so-amicable split with eatery over its TV blasting ways. Word on the street is, Smith’s getting ready to helm a new spot, Kettle Pie, at 124 Bedford Ave. (which formally housed Raymund’s Polish restaurant). While we don’t yet know what kind of food the resto — which is expected to open by early September — will serve, there’s sure to be nary a television in sight.
Great Zeus!: Faros, the new Mediterranean joint between Union and Berkeley streets in Park Slope, is already making waves, and not for its souvlaki or mousaka. According to Here’s Park Slope, the 78th Precinct recently shut the place down after its owner, Peter Livaros, was accused of sexually harassing a waitress. The restaurant has since reopened, with Livaros insisting the kerfluffle was just over a “misunderstanding with a woman.”
Southern comfort on Clinton: SoCo, Clinton Hill’s new soul food/Cajun spot serving shrimp and grits, fried chicken and “Brooklyn” jambalaya, is officially up and running on Myrtle Avenue, www.facebook.com/SOCOBK?sk=wall“>according to Brownstoner. Fun facts: the eatery is an offshoot of the popular Negril Village in Manhattan, its chef, Danielle, recently won an episode of Chopped on the Food Network, and it will be the first Brooklyn restaurant offering Boylan’s soda on tap!