Carroll Gardens used to be synonymous with red-sauce Italian restaurants, and you’ll still find a number of them here (along with impossible-to-resist Italian bakeries). But Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Boerum Hill offer a cornucopia of other cuisines too: Mexican and Yemeni, Korean and French, New American and German. Just as important, the restaurants run the gamut from cheap and cheerful to special-occasion worthy.
With its polished wood bar, tufted leather banquettes, and brick walls, the Clover Club definitely has a clubby feel: not in a snobby, off-putting manner but more in a “sit down, make yourself at home” way. The dinner menu is comfort food with finesse—steak frites with caramelized shallots, buttermilk fried chicken with house-made slaw, mac-and-cheese with Gruyère, white cheddar, and smoked bacon—but the restaurant is perhaps even better known for its weekend brunch. Options include blueberry sourdough waffle topped with berries, an upscale take on scrapple made with duck confit, and fried chicken breast glazed in maple-chili butter served on a buttermilk biscuit with pickled onions and chilis. Equally noteworthy is the cocktail menu; the namesake beverage, which mixes gin, raspberry, dry vermouth, lemon, and egg white, captures the restaurant’s classic-made-better vibe to a T.
Man cannot live by bread alone. But Saint Julivert might convince you that he can live by fish alone—or better yet, fish accompanied by the perfect cocktail or white wine. The menu changes with the seasons, but seafood is always at the center, with options such as spicy fish stew, cod pot pie, and clams in a bacon-coconut broth. A few non-pescatarian dishes, such as house-made stracciatella, are available, but trust us: This petite restaurant will make a seafood-lover of you yet.
You have to love a restaurant that offers croquetas, rather than soup, of the day. La Vara specializes in dishes from southern Spain, particularly those that reflect Moorish or Jewish influences. This explains offerings such as Cantabrian anchovies with duqqa butter and pipirrana con grano, a salad that includes Persian cucumbers and tahini yogurt. The gazpachuelo, made here with white asparagus, smoked trout roe, and yuzu oil, is a must for anyone who loves soup, seafood, or both; the slow-roasted suckling pig served with a classic Andalusian herb sauce will satisfy just about any omnivore.
If you gauge how good a restaurant is by how long the lines are to get in, Lucali must be one of the best in the city. Of course, plenty of reviewers—and Beyoncé and Jay-Z—have raved about this unprepossessing pizza and calzone spot for years. Should you want something other than pizza or calzones, go elsewhere. Ditto if you aren’t willing to pay in cash, BYOB, and stop by at around 3 in the afternoon or so to put your name on the list or hang out hoping for a cancellation. All that said, if you want pizza or calzones made to order with ultra-fresh, locally sourced ingredients in a homey atmosphere, Lucali is for you.
You can’t get a meal at Brooklyn Farmacy, unless your idea of a meal is an old-fashioned malted milkshake, an anything-but-old-fashioned ice cream float, or a one-of-a-kind ice cream sundae. Housed in what had been a corner pharmacy, this dessert haven also offers wine, beer, coffee, and hot chocolate—frozen or otherwise—alongside classic egg creams and sodas made with small-batch syrups. And let’s not overlook house specialties such as the More Is S’more sundae (red velvet cake topped with vanilla, chocolate, and coffee ice cream, hot fudge, and toasted marshmallow), the Dalmation float (lemon soda and mint-chip ice cream), and the Rocket (a shot of espresso in a coffee milkshake). Even the most insatiable sweet tooth is sure to be satisfied.