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Dining Out: Reimagined classics on Classon

Tucked into a cozy corner storefront on Classon Avenue, the fixings of an all-American eatery with a modern twist provide a powerhouse of rustic ambiance and undeniable farm-to-table freshness at Alice’s Arbor.

A just over three-year-old institution in Clinton Hill, the multi-faceted neighborhood spot boasts a little bit of everything, for everyone.

“We want it to be a place that you don’t have to talk about going to beforehand. You just leave the apartment and you walk here,” said Mike Franzetti, the restaurant’s chef/partner. “[The menu] is a mix of my taste, of what I want it to look like, and what people around here want to have.”

Sampling three crowd favorites to start with, — the restaurant’s kale salad ($9), steamed mussels ($12) and seared scallops ($13) — was a sure-fire way to get a taste of that locally sourced freshness, a detail that literally seeps out of the restaurants walls as you look around and see the names of local farms written in chalk.

The salad’s refreshing mix of almonds, apples, avocado, pomegranate and pecorino proved the perfectly contrasting but cohesive match to the scallops—expertly seared on the outside and tender on the inside. The mussels boasted fantastic natural flavors as well, not at all overpowered by the sea of fresh garlic, white wine sauce they were swimming in.

Next, the decadent main course had us scraping for seconds. The fully-loaded cheddar and goat béchamel mac and cheese ($14) was as classy as the classic dish gets, boasting rich, creamy flavors and crunchy breadcrumbs on top. The all-natural burger ($15) featured a pickled green tomato, onions, an optional plate of greens, and a choice of blue, Swiss, or cheddar cheese, on a brioche bun—a dish that, along with the flawlessly seasoned French fries, really spoke to the “farm fresh” theme of the restaurant.

“We work with as many local farms as we can,” said Director of Operations Eric Goulange. “We try [for a good] distribution radius but also keep that neighborhood price point. We’re trying to build that balance – where people can come with their kids and then come back later. We want to provide for everything in this diverse community.”

Franzetti agreed and said a positive vibe is something the restaurant strives for as well.

“I just want people to walk away happy,” he said. “I want them to be positive and happy when they leave here.”

And, once we had the dessert, we couldn’t feel anything but.

We sampled Mike’s grandma’s cheesecake ($7), a little slice of house-made heaven— with a soft but deliciously satisfying graham cracker bottom, and a rich, creamy layer of cheesecake, tied together with a drizzle of raspberry coulis. We also tried the apple crisp ($8), a wildly decadent and soft apple creation, crispy on the outside and warm on the inside, topped with a scoop of that just-what-we-needed vanilla ice cream.

While we came—and stayed—for the food, the diverse eatery also serves as a gourmet store, selling local, organic groceries like pickles, coffee, cookies, pasta and jellies, and offers a wide variety of craft beers on tap as well as artisanal cocktails.

“That sort of welcoming, homey environment is what we’re after,” added Manager Craig Ryan, “just low pressure, well prepared food, casual ambiance, and knowing that you can stop in for something quick or hang out for hours.”

Alice’s Arbor
549 Classon Avenue
(718) 399-3003
www.alicesarbor.com
Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.

 

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