Ridgeites know what many other Brooklynites are unaware of — chock full of top-notch eateries, the borough’s culinary capital is right here, not in Williamsburg, Park Slope or any other of those neighborhoods to the north.
Heck, they may be hipper, but they have nothing on the Ridge, which offers a gustatory world tour to area residents and those in the know, who come from near and far to enjoy the variety. Want Italian, Irish, Middle Eastern, Greek, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican or Spanish food? It’s all right here, and much more, including good, old-fashioned American eats.
What follows is an unscientific and very personal list of some of my favorites. Feel free to share yours with us.
No list of Ridge restaurants would be complete without Tanoreen (7523 Third Avenue), where the Palestinian cuisine cooked up by Rawia Bishara is unmatched. Yes, I dream about Bishara’s Brussels sprouts and fattoush with their fresh, direct yet haunting flavors. Even though it’s not on the menu, ask for the appetizer platter if you’re there with a group — it is one of the best ways of sampling an array of Bishara’s renowned dishes.
Campania (9824 Fourth Avenue) is another favorite. Known for its coal-fired pizza, the eatery offers up a delightful array of pizza varieties (the Lombarda pie, rich with shavings of parmesan cheese and prosciutto piled high on a bed of arugula, is my go-to choice) as well as appetizers and sandwiches. Also look for the homemade mozzarella with roasted peppers — between the creaminess of the cheese and the richness of the peppers and olive oil, it’s impossible to stop eating.
When I want wings and burgers, I know just where to head — Kettle Black (8622 Third Avenue). Comfort food is the specialty, and it’s all wonderful, richly flavored, impeccably presented and addictive, from the Firehouse Chili to the Crazy Fries to the umpteen varieties of wings.
If I’m dreaming of tacos and quesadillas, it’s to Blue Agave (7215 Third Avenue) that I go. This lovely, intimate restaurant isn’t only about atmosphere, though it’s got plenty of that. It has some of the best Latino cuisine in southwest Brooklyn, including creamy and refreshing Guacamole to die for and spicy Agave Shrimp.
Another favorite takes me to the banks of the Bosphorus. Istanbul Bay (8002 Fifth Avenue) offers up some of the most delectable Turkish food I’ve ever eaten on this side of the Atlantic. Impeccably prepared filo rolls stuffed with spinach and feta are crispy outside, meltingly delicious within. The Cacik — yogurt-bathed cucumber salad — is cooling and tantalizing, and the Babaghonush is smoky and sultry. I usually opt for the appetizer platter, which is amply sized to serve me as an entree with leftovers, to boot, with a side of falafels.
For pure fun, Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse (8812 Fourth Avenue) is hard to beat. The food is good and the theatrics of seeing it prepared before your eyes, as the chef does magic with his knives, never grows old. The Tempura is scrumptious — there’s even a cheesecake and a banana version for those who want to wrap up their meal with it.
With all this, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the good food available across the neighborhood. The problem, clearly, is deciding between a host of appealing options — but that’s Bay Ridge for you!