This Italian restaurant has a German accent.
Buschenshank — the newest culinary venture from the founder of burgeoning pizza chain South Brooklyn Pizza, James McGown — is modeled after wine taverns in Alto Adige, a region of northern Italy that borders Austria.
“It’s really a part of the world that no one writes about,” said McGown, holding a giant stein of beer at the restaurant’s pre-opening party on last Wednesday night, referencing the region of Italy that’s actually more lederhosen than gondolier stripes. “[The people there] aren’t really Italian.”
And neither is the food. We sampled the fare at the restaurant’s pre-opening bash, where we nibbled on specialties such as succulant shortribs and smoked bratwurst — both served with saurkraut — and slices of ribeye with with sweet sauce (though not quite tender enough for our delicate palates). The housemade pretzel with cheese — a blend of three cheeses and mustard — was, on the other hand, an unexpected favorite.
“In that region, there are so many similar ingredients that are served differently,” McGown said. “The trick is narrowing it so that it’s served properly.”
But the cuisine isn’t the only thing that feels distinctly German. The cozy restaurant — formerly an Off Track Betting site abandoned in 2005 — is styled after a classic beer hall, with long tables and a horseshoe-shaped bar. McGowan said that he’s turning the basement into a second bar, and renovating the restaurant’s top floor — which used to be a brothel — for private parties.
We would have loved to try some more substantial fare — like maybe the $35 Buschenshank burger, made of dry-aged ribeye, bison, shaved black truffle and melted foie gras — but the best we could get was some goat-cheese pizza from the restaurant’s side window — after all, Buschenschank might be German influenced, but its roots are still Italian.
Buschenshank [320 Court St. between Sackett and Degraw streets in Carroll Gardens, (718) 237-0325]. Open 11 am–4 am.
Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at @dsmacleod.