Prospect Heights


Beast
638 Bergen St.
(at Vanderbilt Ave.)
Prospect Heights
(718) 399-6855

 

 

In Brooklyn, we treat brunch as if it were a high holiday. In other parts of the country (even other parts of the city) brunch is kind of a novelty — maybe something to do on Mother’s Day or a pre- or post-birthday party. But here in America’s fourth-largest city it’s a birthright.

The basic tenets of the meal are just — sleep late, eat a big meal, maybe get a little tipsy, certainly work up a good caffeine buzz, read the paper slowly, talk loudly. It’s an elaborate and secular way to worship something we highly value: our day of rest.

But the execution of the meal fails often, probably because of the overkill. Though they shall remain nameless here, I’ve been burned by bad Brooklyn bruncheries who rush you along, skimp on the coffee, over-poach the eggs to the point where they fall off the plate and bounce, and generally treat the food like a no frills Restaurant Week version of their regular offerings.

This is all why I’m so attracted to Beast on the weekends. Not only do they offer up great food during brunch but they understand why we like brunch to begin with.

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Amorina Cucina Rustica
624 Vanderbilt Avenue
(betw’n Prospect Pl. and Park Pl.)
Prospect Heights
(718) 230-3030

 

 

 

I found my one true love on Viale Trastevere a few years ago. She had all the main requirements — curvy, brunette, and holding a freshly baked pizza from the ancient brick oven beside her.

My lady adorned every box that came out of Pizzeria ai Marmi in that old and moody corner of Rome. Marmi (known as “the morgue” around town for its garish lighting and marble tables) was only one happy moment in a lifelong connoisseurship of Neapolitan pizza, but it was the most profound. The neighbors knew it well, and we bumped elbows every night as we crammed in for dinner. The wine was cheap. The pizza (as it often is in such places throughout Italy) was perfect. But it was the skill that captivated me. I ignored countless hours of conversation while watching the overstressed pizzaioli shape the dough, top the pizzas, load them in, and take them out, never missing a beat in their practiced rhythm. To eat something so fast and cheap yet so flavorfully nuanced seemed to typify life there — where simplicity breeds contentment and an attention to detail that elude us as we continue to evolve and automate.

When I moved back to New York a couple years ago I held out hope for the triumphant return of Neapolitan pizza to my weekly pleasures. I thought it would take some effort, some trial and error, and not a small number of Metrocards and wasted time. It turns out that all I had to do was look around the corner.

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Geido-NagetRollGeido
331 Flatbush Ave.
(btw’n Park Pl. and Prospect Pl.)
Prospect Heights
(718) 638-8866

 

 

Although it’s annoying, it’s also a little endearing that everyone in this town knows where “the best sushi place” is. It’s especially amusing that said place is always, conveniently, right around the corner from where the speaker lives or works.

I’m pretty new to the sushi game so I notice these things. And part of my naiveté is not really noticing many discernible differences between the billions of Japanese restaurants dotting the landscape in these parts.

In retrospect, this is probably not the best way to shore up some street cred for a report on Geido. But it is good to have the full disclosure out of the way before I try to figure out what is so alluring about this place, what calls me back sometimes multiple times a week. I don’t exactly know what I’m doing (which helps, in this case — sushi aficionados often ruin my experience here), and it is just steps away from my front door. But that’s not why.

Geido has a perfect mix of a couple things that make you feel like dinner, well-earned and well-prepared, is ready. One of these things requires time to appreciate (the food — we’ll get to that later), and the other is much more obvious: the joint is jumping.

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