On a Tuesday evening, Park Slope eatery Hugo & Sons was bustling.
The cozy spot, carved out of an old butcher’s shop that had been used for years as storage by a neighborhood artist, harks back to decades long passed in its aesthetic, while being very much of the moment, with young families enjoying its array of freshly cooked offerings, from veggie-based appetizers that epitomize easy elegance, to artisanal pizzas, pasta and even a hamburger, plus the kind of gorgeous desserts that are as beautiful to look at as they are flavorful.
In fact, the sense of community is key to the restaurant’s vibe, one that managing owners Rebecca Tory and Andrea Taormina (also the chef) want to stoke. Local artist Maayan Zilberman’s paintings hang on one wall, for instance, and, like Tory and Taormina, the other owners of the restaurant also live in the neighborhood.
Tory spoke of one of the eatery’s impending projects, starting a cooking class (beginning in September) that would be open at no cost to the children of regular customers, who would, she said, get a voucher for a free class once they had eaten a specific number of meals at the restaurant.
The purpose, Tory said, is to increase involvement in the neighborhood. “It’s another aspect of reaching out to the community,” she explained, noting that the youngsters would be taught things like making pizza, pasta and biscotti in the kitchen of the neighboring pizzeria which they also own.
Of course, since opening in May, 2015, Hugo & Sons has built its following on its food, which is shaped by the seasons and by Taormina’s commitment to, as Tory said, “keep[ing] things fresh and current,” also reflected in the fact that the meats used are organic and grassfed, the eggs are organic and many of the vegetables come from a farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
While much of the inspiration is Italian, the eatery isn’t limited, stressed Tory. “We never wanted it to be just Italian,” she said, “so we do some French, Mediterranean, American. We don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves. We are trying to keep it light and accessible.”
We savored several of the eatery’s specialties, beginning with the creamy Burrata ($14), spiked with rosemary and served with prosciutto-wrapped peaches, almond slices and crispy arugula, and offering up a dazzling array of contrasts – sweet, salty, crispy, soft, crunchy, cooked and raw – in a single dish.
We were also blown away by the Golden Beets ($13), tender wedges artfully positioned atop a pool of goat cheese crema, and enhanced with chopped hazelnuts and spikes of licoricy tarragon.
From the appetizers we moved on to the pizza, opting for the Fiamma ($17), a spicy 12-inch round of tender dough topped with red pepper flakes, crispy soppressata, tomato chunks, creamy pesto and meltingly fresh mozzarella, before digging in to the Rock Shrimp Linguine ($19), lightly briny with undertones of lemon and parmesan, flecked with parsley.
Then it was time for dessert – and what desserts they were! The Tiramisu ($10) was intensely coffee-flavored, and delightfully creamy, and the Mixed Berry Shortcake ($12) combined a homey, scone-like biscuit with whipped cream, strawberries and blackberries for the quintessential comfort dessert, that left us smiling, a little dreamily, as we headed home.
HUGO & SONS
367 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Monday-Thursday, 12-10 p.m.
Friday, 12-11 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Free delivery; go to hugoandsons.com for info