[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Antipasto - Photo credit: urbanblitz"]
I'm half Italian, and I find that during the holidays I always want to go back to my roots and my family's recipes. My heart has been overtaken recently by this sweet little spot called Brucie, a new restaurant serving up farm-inspired Italian meals on Court Street in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill, one of New York City's proudest Italian enclaves.
Brucie as a whole cooks like an Italian family would (Chef Zahra Tangorra is indeed Italian herself). The restaurant has a relationship with the farmers who raise its beef, pork and vegetables. The crew selects products from outstanding and singularly talented purveyors (both for use in their recipes and for sale in the restaurant's small retail market).
They change the menu nearly every day and post it to their website every night. They make sure to keep you comfortable and look you in the eye when they're listening to you. Brucie's bringing honesty back to dinnertime and treating patrons like they would if they had them in their own home. And so far, it's working.
Brucie is the first place in years that makes me want to come back every chance I can. I bring friends (12 of them so far) so I can eat whatever Chef Zahra Tangorra makes and as fast as she can make it.
My first visit was on a whim with a friend. We wanted to catch up over an easy dinner before heading out to separate parties later that night. Welcomed by candlelight and friendly smiles, we felt immediately at home as we perched on old tractor seats bolted to the floor in front of the pasta bar (most of the pasta on the menu is made in house).
The first meal: A beautiful burrata, tender octopus over vinegary bites of potatoes and peas, a trout and radish crostini with freshly made ricotta and a plate of homemade pappardelle tossed with pumpkin and speck.
The second meal was with a motley crew of friends who were intrigued about my frothing at the mouth over this place. Twelve of us gathered at a table in the semi-private back room over a salumi assortment from Manhattan's Salumeria Beiliesse with a spread of olives and cheeses from all over, including Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and a bleu cheese wrapped in honey-covered leaves. That was followed by lardo bread from Caputo's, smoked trout fritters and stuffed sardines.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Olives and cheese at Brucie - Photo credit: urbanblitz"]
After the lardo bread and sardines, Chef Zahra seduced us with her big bowls of Sunday Supper-style meatballs, made with beef and pork from Nectar Hills Farm upstate.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Meatballs at Brucie - Photo credit: urbanblitz"]
The local pork and beef rolled around with just a kiss of lemon zest, leaving the flavors to melt and dance on your tongue all at once.
Lastly, we shared platters of what's becoming their signature dish: Housemade tagliatelle with sweet New York corn, roasted brussel sprouts, tomato butter and burrata. If you're confused on how to cook perfect pasta, just come eat this and take notes. You'll never muck it up again.
Dinner number three was just last week, on the coldest night yet this December. We warmed up over fritto misto with orange, sardines, artichokes and squid. This time our homemade ricotta crostini came with broccoli and roasted pepper.
For our main dishes, we outdid ourselves with pumpkin chestnut bow tie pasta (with life-sized bow tie shapes!) and a hot plate of prime rib with mashed parsnips and kale, perfectly seasoned. It was hearty winter food, and a new friendship was cemented with a solid food memory we can share for many years to come.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Afterglow at Brucie"]
My last post
highlighted a local entrepreneur and it turns out that Chef Zahra and her boyfriend Dan are neighbors of mine in Ft. Greene, too. She's never owned a restaurant and he's never worked in one, yet they're knocking it out of the park. I admire them both for what they're bringing to Brooklyn. Now, close your laptop and get over there.
- Eat At Brucie: 234 Court St. at Baltic Street in Cobble Hill, (347) 987-4961.
- Visit Brucie on the web at www.brucienyc.com for daily menu updates and hours.
- Follow @BrucieNYC on the Twitters.
- For another great look at Brucie and Chef Zahra, check out this article in the South Brooklyn Post.
- Photos in this post are shared with permission of my talented friend, urbanblitz.
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