111 North 12th St., Williamsburg
Andrew Carmellini, the same chef behind Tribeca’s impressive Locanda Verde and Little Park, doesn’t disappoint with his new southern Italian spot located inside Brooklyn's fast-growing William Vale hotel. In the bright, wood-paneled space, you’ll find a selection of wood-fired pizzas, dips (including one with ricotta, hot honey, and garlic), and pasta offerings that include sea-urchin spaghetti and Pugliese penne with rabbit. Also of note: an affogato-syle ice cream sundae called “the Sophia Loren for Two” that involves caramel crumble, meringue, and rum granita.
364 Grand St., Williamsburg
Pretty much everyone we know gives the Detroit-style pizza at Emmy Squared in Williamsburg rave reviews, although there’s a nice line-up of Italian sandwiches here, too: spicy meatball, spicy chicken, and chicken parm, all served on pretzel buns. The restaurant was unveiled this spring by the same couple behind Emily, the duo’s original, widely loved pizza-centric spot in Clinton Hill.
Kings County Imperial
20 Skillman Ave., Williamsburg
In the year since it opened, Kings County has become known for its pretty perfect spin on classic Chinese dishes. The fun back garden patio and the excellent cocktail list also help the cause.
241 S. 4th St., Williamsburg
The name of this restaurant is actually pronounced "shiksa," a nod to (Jewish) chef Jason Marcus's (non-Jewish) wife Heather Heuser, with whom he owns the restaurant. Located under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in a cozy, dimly-lit space scattered with several bar-height tables, the casual vibe is a bit deceiving, as this is a serious foodie destination. While the menu is somewhat Mexican-inspired, Marcus takes a lot of liberties, with dishes like grilled carrots "elote," a corn flan "tamale" with blue crab and poblano-garlic cream, and grilled quail with cantaloupe, pomegranate-walnut salsa, herbed yogurt, and arbol chile. It's the kid of place that's worthy of a trek from Manhattan.
1 or 8
66 S. 2nd St., Williamsburg
We're not prone to sweeping declarations, but it's pretty unanimous that this is the best sushi spot in Williamsburg. The sleek interior has a sophisticated air to it that's perfect for a date night when you want to break out the heels.
567 Union Ave., Williamsburg
It’s still pretty hard to nail down a reservation at Chef Missy Robbins’ first solo venture, an Italian restaurant set up in what used to be an auto garage. Pasta is the move here, but people also love the grilled seafood—the menu is separated into big fish and little fish, but the truth is, they’re all standard mains size-wise. Should you find yourself in this part of Williamsburg during the day, go to the takeaway Lilia Caffé attached to the main dining room for strong espresso and house-made pastries in the morning, and delicious soft serve gelato and focaccia midday, both good for a quick refuel. Photos: Evan Sung
348 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg
As the latest restaurant from designer Taavo Somer (Freemans, etc.), Isa is, unsurprisingly, very cool. The food is simple yet innovative, focusing on the flavors of the quality ingredients with frequent hints of smoke from the wood-burning oven.
85 Broadway, Williamsburg
Operating out of a renovated 1920s train car, this quirky little spot from Andrew Tarlow has served Williamsburg since the late 90s. In the past 20 years, it’s lost none of its appeal, thanks to a seasonal and daily menu of American classics, from one of the best burgers in Brooklyn, to a solid roast chicken on any night of the week. The atmosphere gets downright rowdy the later it gets with scores of hipsters rolling up for late-night eating to a soundtrack of old-school hip-hop. The restaurant sticks to a strict no-reservations policy, so expect to wait for a seat. Luckily, you can get a strong drink at the bar to tide you over or head next door to Marlow & Sons for a glass of wine.
Take Root (Closed)
187 Sackett St., Cobble Hill
Chef Elise Kornack (formerly under April Bloomfield at Spotted pig and sous at Aquavit) is as ambitious a chef as we've seen in a long time. The 12-seat space on a brownstone-lined Sackett Street that she runs with her wife (they do everything from hosting, to dishwashing, to waiting tables and cooking) is tasting menu only, with a focus on vegetables. Elise does some stunning stuff with the most simple things: Shitakes and sunchokes are turned into a crunchy, creamy tartare, while a barley miso broth in a dramatically large bowl serves as the mid-meal rest. The space itself is tiny and looks like the inside of a Kinfolk journal—white on white with a smattering of plants and books.
162 N. 4th St., Williamsburg
We’re big fans of this sustainability-first spot, which is growing like crazy. The focus is on local farmers, proper sourcing, and environmental respect, which is also reflected in the hands-down delicious food. Besides the build-your-own salad bar, the bowl-centric dishes range from Mexican-inspired salads to basic cobbs—and in the true spirit of transparency, they reveal calorie content, too. Come lunchtime, the lines extend around the block.
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