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Photo by Robert Fernandez

Photo by Robert Fernandez

THE BITE: I’m going to dive into the great pizza debate that rages over Brooklyn.

Here in Southern Brooklyn, we are lucky to have two of the best pizza parlors in the world. Di Fara, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s personal favorite, and Totonno’s, labeled best by one of my favorite food writers, Robert Sietsema. But, there’s one other, a recent arrival to the neighborhood who in its original location vied for the crown, called Grimaldi’s.

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Photo: http://www.farah.net.au/

This just in from the National Weather Service…

Notification issued on 5/23/13 at 3:30 PM. The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning citywide until 5:30 PM. Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other drainage areas and low lying spots. Do not drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. The water depth may be too great to allow your car to cross safely. Move to higher ground.

Looks like we’re in for it again. Has your street changed since Superstorm Sandy? Does Sheepshead Bay and our surrounding communities have new flood zones? Does your yard or street flood more often now since Sandy? Let us know. Send pictures and tips to tips@ sheepsheadbites (dot) com.

The following is a paid announcement from Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts.

Looking for a fun, different, and quirky event to attend with your friends and family next weekend? Get your vocal chords warmed up and join us at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, May 19, at 1 p.m. for the screening of the Academy Award-winning movie musical The Sound of Music. This is more than just a chance to revisit the classic Julie Andrews movie on the big screen; it’s also a major audience participation event.

Upon entry, audience members receive a free swag bag, complete with edelweiss, a curtain swatch, an invitation to the Captain’s Ball, and more. An emcee guides the experience, as subtitles assist the audience as they sing along to classic tunes including “Climb Every Mountain,” “My Favorite Things,” and of course the soaring title song. Dress up as your favorite character for the costume contest—the possibilities are as endless as a Ray of Golden Sun. If you’ve always wanted to be a part of a musical, this is your chance!

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music – Sunday, May 19th at 1pm
Tickets: $15

The above is a paid announcement by Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, email us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

In the past I have complained about the driving habits of our neighbors, but today it’s the pedestrian’s turn to suffer my wrath.

What the hell is wrong with the people walking the streets of Sheepshead Bay? A little jaunt from East 12th Street and Avenue Z to Nostrand Avenue and Avenue U today made me think I was recreating “Death Race 2000″ with pedestrians jumping out in front of my car trying to add to my point score.

Up first was a little old man, using a walker, who jumped, as much as an old man using a walker can, in front of my car on Avenue Z by Sheepshead Bay Gourmet. He stopped in front of my car to allow a truck to pass in the opposite direction. The next car wasn’t so lucky, slamming on it’s breaks to keep the old gentleman alive.

As I watched him mount the sidewalk, a not-so-little and not-so-old woman, with hair dyed a color never to be found in nature, entered the Avenue Z roadway from the north side, in front of the car that just laid down about 20 feet of rubber as it  screamed to a halt for the little old man. As she passed in front of me, she shook her fingers in some sort of taunting manner. Damn, if this was only the movie, lady, you would have added at least 20 points to my score. The little old man, hell, he was worth 100!

Driving up Ocean Avenue, I could see kids (40 points each) running across the street a block away. They were in the middle of the block and definitely not looking as they crossed. Over on Nostrand, between Avenue X and Avenue V, there’s so many people walking across the street and out from between parked cars it might as well be a pedestrian mall!

On Avenue U, it continued by the post office, by Jay and Lloyds and by Brennan and Carr. It’s not always kids, today’s offenders were mostly middle-aged women. What – don’t they break? Or are they like Tigger and bounce. Sometimes it’s tempting to find out.

My number one complaint is the parents with kids in strollers who push the child out into traffic as they cross. If this were indeed “Death Race 2000,” this would be an ideal situation as toddlers are worth 70 points! But no, I unfortunately drive much like Frankenstein and avoid the easy gets.

So, come on Sheepshead Bay. Play by the rules. Drive safely and if you’re walking, remember cars hurt when they slam into your flesh. Cross at the corners and with the light. Or, should we just let the games begin?

THE BITE: Roll n Roaster (2901 Emmons Avenue, just west of Nostrand Avenue) is well known for its roast beef sandwiches, late night crowds and its 1970s television commercials. But it also sells Cheez burgers, fries and “freshly squeezed orangeade,” all of which are prominently touted on their take-out bags. Talking with friends, it seems that most folks don’t stray far from the roast beef and fries when they hit the restaurant. Even the New York Times picked up on this, quoting a customer “You kind of have to get the roast beef,” he said. “They looked at you weird when you didn’t get it.”

We here at the Bite are used to being looked at weird.

So, today’s Bite brings you the “Western Cheez Burger.” It’s allegedly available rare, medium or well done and sells for $5.25. So what is a “Western cheez burger,” you ask? It’s a thin beef hamburger patty, topped with their ubiquitous cheese sauce, onion rings and barbecue sauce on one of RnR’s outstanding buns. How that makes it western I have no idea. And, don’t get me started on the cheese sauce – or “cheez sauce,” as they like to call it.

Frankly, I love that “cheez,” whatever it is. Is it real cheese or some sort of evil corporate concoction that is oddly addictive? Strangely, it’s nowhere to be found on RnR’s website menu. Some people claim that it is “Cheez Whiz” which is made by Kraft and available in your local supermarkets. Others claim it’s an invention of Roll n Roaster owner, Nick “Buddy” Lamonica. I really don’t care either way. The cheez sauce is one of my reasons for visiting RnR so frequently.

And it saves the Western burger. This thin burger patty arrives burned, dry and flavorless no matter how you order it, but is covered with the  cheez sauce that brings both flavor and much needed moisture. It is then topped with a very sweet Kansas City-style barbecue sauce and a couple of perfectly cooked, whole onion – not chopped – onion rings. While the actual burger patty itself is nothing special, the toppings and the bun make this a worthy meal.

Roll N Roaster, 2901 Emmons Avenue, just west of Nostrand Avenue, (718) 769-6000.

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers  or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

THE BITE: What’s more Brooklyn than cheesecake? How about a New York-style cheesecake baked by immigrants, topped with Oreos? Did you know that the Oreo was invented by NABISCO in New York City in 1912 and originally came in two flavors? One version came with the cream you know and love, the other with lemon meringue. Did you know that Oreos are kosher? I wonder if they still are when placed on a cheesecake.

Brooklyn Bloom (1607 Avenue U, between East 16th Street and East 17th Street) offers up an interesting take on the traditional New York style cheesecake for $3.50 a slice. Baked to about three inches high, this golden crust cake is built on a nest of ground graham crackers and topped with whole Oreos. Why do I say interesting take? Well, this cheesecake is lighter than most. While still creamy, this cake somehow manages to avoid the heaviness of the cheesecakes we’re more familiar with – Junior’s, I’m looking at you.

But, something was sacrificed with the weight. While this was a good cheesecake, it just seemed to miss the mark. There was no trace of vanilla, or any other flavoring agents besides the cream cheese and sugar. While the blandness of the cake allowed the flavors of the graham crackers and Oreo to dominate, I would have preferred the cake itself to be much more assertive. Usually there’s a slight tang that comes from the cream cheese; it didn’t make itself known here. Pity.

The graham cracker crust is thick, almost the same thickness as the Oreos that top the cake. The Oreos themselves suffer from the placement on the cake, with the bottom layer of the cookies becoming very soggy as they melt into the cake batter. The sweetness of the Oreo filling is lost in the sweetness of the cheese cake, and the sudden texture switch is a bit off-putting; give me a plain cheesecake any day.

While this cake has some problems, it still is a good cake. It’s not outstanding, but it is enjoyable if you keep it on the surface. It’s much like the champion feather weight fighter taking on the heavy weight champion of the world. He’s a good fighter in his realm, but no match for the master – Junior’s, I’m still looking at you.

Brooklyn Bloom, 1607 Avenue U, between East 16th Street and East 17th Street, (718) 339-1333.

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.,

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Photo by Erica Sherman

THE BITE: Hey, today, March 19, is St. Joseph’s Day. What better way to celebrate than by eating some St. Joseph zeppole? What’s that you say? What are St. Joseph zeppole?

St. Joseph zeppole, or zeppole di San Giuseppeis, is a classic Italian pastry traditionally made only for the feast day of St. Joseph. In Italy, it’s also their Father’s Day. According to Academia Barilla:

On this day, pastry shops around Italy sell zeppole di San Giuseppe, fritters filled with pastry cream. This tradition dates back to 500 AC and the Latin celebration of Baccanali, which took place on March 17th in honor of Bacchus and Silinus, respectively, the gods of wine and wheat. The Ancient Romans would consume large quantities of wine and wheat-flour fritters to celebrate the two divinities. It should come as no surprise that St. Joseph’s day, which comes two days later, often includes similar customs. The modern-day recipe for zeppole, however, was created fairly recently. It is believed that this type of fritter was invented by a convent of monks at the beginning of the 19th century.

Luckily, we don’t have to travel to Italy to celebrate. Head over to T & D Bakery (2307 Avenue U between East 23rd Street and East 24th Street) for a great Italian-American version of this sacred treat.

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It’s back. New York City’s original barbecue and grilling contest is back, and so is the chili!

Come on out to Grillin’ On The Bay and the Brooklyn Chili Smackdown.

Saturday, March 23, 2013, at 10:00 a.m., the gates will open and thousands of hungry Sheepshead Bay residents  to a score of barbecue teams working their meats. Once the teams have got our neighbors salivating, visitors will get to feast on the award-winning barbecue of Three Men And A Baby Back, who just happened to win first place in Grilling at the Jack Daniels Invitational World Championship 2012.

But we’re not stopping there – check out the amazing ribs from Brooklyn’s newest barbecue joint,  Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue!

Still not satisfied?

Join in our People’s Choice Chili Smackdown. For only $10 you can sample and judge from some of the most outrageous chili every offered up in Brooklyn. You choose the winner of this contest!

Need something to wash it all down? What’s a barbecue without beer and bourbon?

Spend some time among the barbecue teams as they vie for cash, prizes, the New England Barbecue Society’s Team of the Year placement and the chance to compete at the world’s biggest and baddest barbecue contest, The World Food Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada! You may even spot a few people you’ve seen on the Food Network!

Don’t forget, Grillin’ On The Bay helps support St. Mark School in our own Sheepshead Bay.  Help one of our neighborhood’s oldest institutions recover after Superstorm Sandy! The event is free, but do a little shopping with our vendors and buy some food! And there will be many, many other surprises. Check it out.

Grillin’ On The Bay and the Brooklyn Chili Smackdown – Saturday, March 23, 2013 – Corner of Avenue Z and East 18th Street – rain or shine.

THE BITE: On a recent night I sat down for dinner at Chop Stix (3790 Nostrand Avenue, between Avenue Y and Avenue Z) with my friend Ned. Ned likes to joke about whenever someone eats in a Chinese restaurant that they spend a lot of time looking over the encyclopedic menu before ordering the same thing they always eat. Determined to prove him wrong, I suggested that we order the fried octopus leg appetizer ($6.95). We both laughed at my suggestion.

When the waiter came to take our order, I ordered Kung Po Chicken. Yes, I was trying something new; well, not exactly new, but not of my routine. When the waiter turned to Ned, he ordered his main dish, which was his default Chinese restaurant order, and then said, “and an order of the fried octopus.” This surprised me. I thought he knew I was joking with my suggestion.

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Wow, talk about a survivor. Jimmy’s Famous Heros located at 1786 Sheepshead Bay Road (between Emmons Avenue and Shore Parkway) is celebrating its 75th anniversary all month long.

Opened on February 1, 1938, Jimmy’s has survived the Great Depression, World War II, the massive inflation and oil embargoes of the  1970′s and the Great Recession of our time. Bowed, but not defeated by Superstorm Sandy, Victor Spadaro and his crew turn out some of the best sandwiches in Brooklyn.

So, what do they do to celebrate? They bake a cake. Not just a cake, but a cake that looks just like one of Jimmy’s famous heros, Nicole Bochen created this life size replica of a ham and cheese hero. Of course, it’s with the works!

Congratulations Jimmy’s. Here’s to another 75 years of serving the Bay.

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