Brooklyn has many great restaurants, old and new, but they can't all be Indispensables. I've thought about it long and hard, and if I could save only ten Brooklyn restuarants from annihilation, these would be those ten.
Too often derided for its preposterously beautiful view and identity as a romantic nirvana, the fact is that The River Cafe has always been and remains one of the very greatest New York restaurants.
It doesn't get any more old-school than Bamonte's, which could basically serve as a movie set for Italian American restaurants before they became mainstream.
This Bensonhurst classic has generations of fans for its unique square pizza slices, and justly famous spumoni desserts. But I go there for the sausage, veal, and braciole, and dispense with pizza entirely!
Yes, it's in the middle of nowhere. Yes, you have to wait a million years while owner Dom DeMarco painstakingly makes his pies one at a time. And yes, the pizza costs more than the crap sold on every corner. But these are masterpiece pies, unique in the world, and the standard by which all other pizza is judged. Live with it.
Conceived originally as a shrine to the perfect country breakfast, Egg may have the best one in New York -- thanks especially to its fabulous biscuits. The dinner is pretty damn good too.
Brooklyn's best, more or less, Dressler is a full-on restaurant, complete with a gorgeous, dramatic room, refined greenmarket cooking, and the kind of service you rarely see in the 718. While the Michelin star it received might be a bit of a stretch, there's no question that it's worth the money, given the (non-) competition in Brooklyn. At the very least, you will get service far beyond the borough's famously shitty standards.
Secluded, rustic, and romantic (it's in an area so secluded you can hear birds chirping outside), Vinegar Hill House doesn't seem likely to have great food. After all, why bother? But the food is, amazingly, the main reason to go. The wood oven is, for once, used as an engine for cast-iron cooking and simple food made with the best possible ingredients. This is one of the best restaurants in New York, period.
A sprawling, citadel-like space in the farthest reaches of Brooklyn, this bushwick pizzeria has grown into one of the most adventurous and exciting restaurants in New York City.
Universally hailed as one of the greatest exhibitions of culinary genius in the USA, this small chef's counter (there are only 18 seats) showcases Cesar Ramirez's exquisite food, but it also asks a lot from its customers, who are required to sit in reverential silence for hours, barely talking, never taking pictures, etc. etc. By all accounts it's the sort of meal nobody goes to twice -- more a touchstone for gastrocrats than a meal to look forward to. At the same time, by all accounts Ramirez is a genius.
Two gifted young Manhattan line cooks move to Brooklyn, start a tiny, superb restaurant and immediately outshine their former bosses: who could resist that story?