Archive for the tag 'the bite'

THE BITE: Connie’s Pizza (3845 Nostrand Avenue) is one of the survivors of Sheepshead Bay. With Pathmark closed and a Subway shop located almost next door, it has to be.

Enticed by a large sign in the window offering $5 heros, I ventured in for lunch and ordered.

Find out how it was, and why certain shenanigans are ruining the restaurant’s reputation.

THE BITE: A Mexican-Hawaiian take out restaurant? Only in New York City.

Empire Tortillas Aloha Teriyaki Grill (3556 Nostrand Avenue) is one of those anonymous storefront takeout joints that line Nostrand Avenue from Avenue U to Avenue Z. This nondescript takeout restaurant could pass for any cheap fast food joint, and I’ve passed it by for years, never giving it a thought.

Until recently that is.

One cold day last month, I stopped in for the first time. I was immediately greeted by the friendliest woman I’ve ever encountered in a takeout restaurant. It was an odd time of day and the staff was all seated at a small table and eating their lunch. As she stood to greet me, I explained that I was only picking up a menu and that I didn’t want to interrupt her meal. She handed me the menu saying, “Please come back, you’ll enjoy your food.”

Well, I have come back and I have enjoyed my food, mostly. But what continues to impress me most about Empire Tortillas Aloha Teriyaki Grill is the customer service. These folks are friendly and work to keep the customer happy.

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THE BITE: Twenty-twelve has to be the year the Mexican restaurant established itself in Sheepshead Bay. We’ve seen the opening of El Mexicano Restaurant, and the soon to be open Jumpin’ Bean on Emmons Avenue, as they join La Villita as part of the smattering of  Mexican restaurants in the neighborhood. I’ve also noticed a few Mexican food booths popping up in the various groceries and doughnut shops of Avenue U. I endorse this trend.

Tacos El Rey, while not quite in the neighborhood, and not quite new, is probably the granddaddy of them all. Located at 3168 Coney Island Avenue, this nondescript hole-in-the-wall has been quietly serving up authentic Mexican food for more than 10 years.

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THE BITE: When asked what type of restaurants are needed in Sheepshead Bay, I’ve always answered that we need another Thai place. Well, after having that discussion for more than a decade, my desire has finally been fulfilled. We have a new Thai restaurant in the Bay.

Located at 3682B Nostrand Avenue, Thai Basil, which opened in early December, is dishing out “Thai fusion” dishes to all comers. I’m not sure what they mean by Thai “fusion,” as most of the dishes presented on the limited menu appear to be found in just about any Thai restaurant, but I’m pleased to see a new food choice in the ‘hood.

For the Bite, I sampled an array of dishes from the lunch menu that should represent the restaurant well. Pad Thai, considered by some to be the national dish of Thailand, Massamam Curry, cited by CNN as the “world’s most delicious food,” and Ginger Joy, a dish I never heard of before.

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THE BITE: Looking for a new place for lunch? Cevabdzinica Sarajevo II (2556 Coney Island Avenue) is trying something new; the hot table. Hoping to rebuild its customer base after the hurricane, Sarajevo II is offering up a hot steam table of home-made dishes for your mid-day indulgence.

Choices vary every day as the offerings of the hot table are created by a former employee who was coerced out of retirement after cooking for the highly praised Cevabdzinica Sarajevo Restaurant in Astoria. Hey, it’s all in the family. Cevabdzinica Sarajevo in Astoria is owned by Saed’s father. Saed is the owner and manager of Cevabdzinica Sarajevo II.

This woman, whose name escapes me, creates eight or nine different dishes for the “Hot Table” each and every day. There are three or four standards, from soups to rice, and four or five specials that change daily. The hot table ($7.00) is available from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. I was a bit confused by the rules, but apparently you can choose to have one or all of the dishes from “the table.”

“It’s just like eating at home. Eat all you want,” said Saed. Let’s be clear, though. This isn’t “all you can eat” for one price.

On my last visit, we purchased a plate of rice, meatballs in an interesting sweet and sour sauce and Bosnian moussaka. I was intrigued by this Bosnian moussaka. It fit in perfectly for “The Bite.” This is the first time I’ve seen Bosnian moussaka offered in the neighborhood.

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THE BITE: It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow. This has been one tough year and I’m having a hard time coming up with things to be thankful for. As I reflect on all I’ve faced this year, an interesting conundrum has arisen. With all the crisis I faced – hell, we all faced – this year, yet lived through, is there really a reason to be thankful? It all depends on how you look at it.

Which brings me to this week’s Bite. One of the results of Sandy’s visit was the lack of food available in the neighborhood during and immediately after the hurricane. Some homes and businesses were wiped out and had to rely on the kindness of strangers for their daily meal. In some cases that kindness came in the form of a “Meal Ready to Eat,” or MRE, courtesy of the federal government. 

Keep reading to see what this is all about. It ain’t pretty.

Arbuz owners and staff cleaning off the furniture just days after the storm.

THE BITE: The Bite’s been laying low as Sheepshead Bay struggles to recover from Hurricane Sandy. With so many still without power or heat, it seems a bit insensitive to write about a newly discovered food dish. Now’s the time to help our neighbors rebuild.

Many of our restaurants and food mongers who came out for this year’s A Taste of Sheepshead Bay are still recovering and some are already back in business. Please do your best to help support the businesses that support Sheepshead Bites and the community. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to bring you our coverage of the neighborhood. No one else provides the local news when you need it,  like Sheepshead Bites.

Rovshan Danilov, the owner of Arbuz, put it best. “We need Sheepshead Bay back. We need the businesses to return. We need the customers back. We need the landlords to understand and work with the small businesses of the Bay.” We’re all in this together.

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Photo by Lenny Markh

THE BITE: I like to eat where our readers send me. I’ve had some interesting recommendations in the past couple of years, but this is the first time I had a recommendation from a reader who also follows Serious Eats. Not only does he follow Serious Eats, he follows recipes from my friend and fellow food writer, James Boo.  This elusive reader has such high regards for the lowly scallion pancake, he actually makes them at home using James’ recipe.

This reader, who will remain anonymous at his request, highly recommended the scallion pancakes at New Star Restaurant (2212 Avenue X – between East 21 and East 22 Streets) which happens to be walking distance from my home.

Oddly, I had never been to this restaurant. Of course, I had to go.

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Photo: Robert Fernandez

THE BITE: I don’t know when donuts took control of the police, but when I was a kid, the stereotype was always a cop and a cheese danish. I guess as Dunkin’ Donuts and the various 24-hour chains replaced the small mom-and-pop bakeries, donuts were just easier to obtain. The cop on the late night beat needed coffee to stay awake, and what better accompaniment than a donut?

Forget the donut – let’s go back the to cheese danish!

At A Taste of Sheepshead Bay this week, I was re-introduced to one of my favorite neighborhood institutions, T & D Bakery (2307 Avenue U – between East 23rd and 24th Streets). Their outstanding offerings of made-to-order canolli and mini pastries, reminded me of the wonders of the “mom-and-pop bakery.” It made me ask, and I hope it made you ask, why haven’t I been there lately?

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THE BITEOf all the columns I write each year, this one has to be my favorite. This is the column where I break my silence on what’s happening behind the scenes of Brooklyn’s greatest food fest, A Taste Of Sheepshead Bay!

First off – GO BUY YOUR TICKETS. Online ticket sales end very soon, so don’t delay. Yes folks, I want you to save some money and buy your tickets on line. Tickets online are $25, a savings of $10 from purchasing them at the door. Once you’ve bought your tickets, you can then use the $10 you saved on libations at the event. Or just give it to me, no one’s getting rich working at Sheepshead Bites, y’know.

Now, why should you attend A Taste of Sheepshead Bay? Well, apart from all the good food you’ll be eating, it gives you a chance to come out and support the local businesses of our community. You won’t find any restaurant chains or corporate shills pushing their food here. All of our participants are small, local, business owners who are working hard to make Sheepshead Bay and the surrounding neighborhood a great place to live. Some have been here for generations, some are just opening their doors. It doesn’t matter; they are our neighbors and one of the great creeds of Brooklyn has always been, “We take care of our own.”

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at who’s coming and some of the food we’ll all be enjoying…

See the list of foods served at A Taste of Sheepshead Bay 2012!

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