Saturday, April 15, 2006


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Blue Ribbon
[280 Fifth Ave. (bet. 1st St. and Garfield Pl.) 718-840-0404]
This Park Slope institution offers everything from Fried Catfish to Pigeon to Tofu Ravioli on its menu, but it seems like fish is the specialty. So armed with this information, I ordered the Duck (confit) of course and it was excellent, falling off the bone and tender. Dan tried the Fried Catfish Sandwich and had similar success and got very full in the process. My parents also had fish, and the Striped Bass was especially good. I also would say that the bread here (hot, fresh rolls) was very good. I went here for an early dinner with my parents and we had no problem securing a table. However, I hear that this is definitely not the case regularly, so if you have a party of 5 or more, make a reservation.

Carroll Gardens Classic Diner [155 Smith St. (at Bergen St.) 718-403-9940]
Try to sit in the enclosed porch that is the back room if you can in this wonderful Smith Street diner. As with every other diner, you can find anything you want on the menu, but you should probably focus on breakfast dishes. Treat yourself to the chocolate chip pancakes with two eggs and you will not regret it. And if you are really hungry, try the Lumber Jack (it's got everything). You might regret that, but in a good way.

Caserta Vecchia [221 Smith St. (bet. Baltic and Butler Sts.) 718-624-7549]
Try this quaint and authentic Italian restaurant in Carroll Gardens/Boerum Hill for some fantastic Neapolitan-style pizza. Order whichever pie suits your fancy, although I can tell from experience that the prosciutto is good. The prices are very reasonable, and I highly recommend that you sit in the garden in the back. This place is a well-known Brooklyn institution and is definitely worth a visit.

Marco Polo Ristorante [345 Court St. (at Union St.) 718-852-5015]
If it's old-school Italian you want, it's old-school Italian you'll get at this Carroll Gardens haunt. The main dining room is dark and decorated with images of Marco Polo and other Italian heroes. The menu offers up few surprises, but the large portions are nice for gluttons like myself. My friend enjoyed the Minestrone soup to start, and it was a massive bowl that almost a meal in itself. For my entree, I went with the Pasta Nera Adriatica (squid-ink pasta with seafood) and it was excellent. My friend's Zuppa di Pesce (seafood in a tomato broth) was less so. My other friend had a pasta special that was tasty. So stick to the pasta and you should enjoy yourself.

Melt [440 Bergen St. (bet. 5th and Flatbush Aves.) 718-230-5925]
This trendy, yet unpretentious, Park Slope restaurant is a real find. The food is high quality, the service is extremely friendly, and the prices are mostly standard for New York. I say mostly, because there are deals to be had. I had an excellent prix fixe dinner for just $19, featuring an Organic Baby Arugula Salad to start and Chicken Breast with Mushroom Risotto to finish. And every Tuesday night, you can enjoy a brand new five-course meal for just $20! But if you just want to eat a regular meal here, you'll do fine as well. For starters, try the Warm Boucheron Goat Cheese. It goes down smoothly and is well-complemented by the tomato and figs. A solid entree selection is the Butternut Squash Ravioli. The Kobe Beef Burger is also very good, but you should try it at the bar for $10 (happy hour) instead of off the menu for $17. The menu appears to change regularly here, so if they do not have some of these dishes, be adventurous and trust the chef.

Peter Luger Steak House [178 Broadway (Brooklyn, NY) 718-387-7400]
Simply the best, better than all the rest. Everything you have heard is true, except for the fact the waiters are not gruff, they just have personalities. Located just over the Williamsburg Bridge, Luger's is a steak-lover's paradise. Obviously you must order the porterhouse steak for the number of people in your party plus one (because you will all eat more than usual here). I also like the tomato and onion appetizer and one strip of the best bacon you will ever eat. The first bite of a Luger's steak is like eating heaven. Oh, and sometimes they give you Hanukkah gelt (little gold chocolate coins) at the end of your meal! Call ahead for reservations because it is always booked. Lunch is also an excellent option here if you have the time (and it will be cheaper too).

Press 195 [195 Fifth Ave. (bet. Berkeley Pl. and Union St.) 718-857-1950]
Stop by this Park Slope panini shop for a tasty pressed sandwich in a low key atmosphere. Each sandwich comes on fresh Ciabatta bread and offers enough food to fill you up pretty well. I tried the #2 (turkey, brie, roasted peppers, garlic spread) and it was very good, while my friend had the #1 (turkey, monterey jack, cilantro, jalapeno mustard), which he enjoyed as well. But there are tons of other options, so be adventurous. Prices, while not cheap, are certainly reasonable.

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