Brooklyn: Cobble Hill or Carroll Gardens: yuppy haven

Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge


When I think of Brooklyn I think of growing up from the mid 1940s to 1957, and beyond.

I say beyond 1957, because my grandmother, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends still lived there and I had reason to visit often after we moved away, out of our Italian ghetto, now called Carroll Gardens connected to the next ghetto of Cobble Hill.  Those are the sections of Brooklyn I could map out by pizza places when I was a kid.

Guzie’s Pizza was our family favorite, no longer in existence.  The smell of stale beer and pizza cooking in the brick oven, the first aroma that hit me in the face when I walked into the restaurant as a child.  Guzie’s active bar of Irish emigrants tossing down a cold one is long gone, but the Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill sections of Brooklyn has been reawakened and renamed by yuppies in the 1980s and 1990s.

It doesn’t even seem real to me that where I used to buy my school shoes on Smith and Baltic Streets for $3.00 a pair sits a slew of upscale restaurants.  When I drive down Smith Street now, I see why Conde-Nast magazine has written up this area as one of the most upcoming areas for restaurants and night life.

The one restaurant I can recommend, that I’ve eaten at with my family over the past ten years, is Vinny’s of Carroll Gardens.  If you want authentic Italian food at moderate prices, Vinny’s in the place.  Located at 295 Smith Street, Vinny’s is set up more like a diner than an upscale restaurant.  Wooden tables, quick service, great pasta, sauteed vegetables, bread, veal, chicken and egg plant parmigiana; all cooking done on the premises, you can’t go wrong.

We usually delve into a fresh saute of broccoli drenched in olive oil and lemon, maybe a portion of lasagna, a chicken Milanese dish, a green salad, and we’re happy campers.

Court Street pastry is an institution.  That’s where I’m headed after Vinny’s for my dessert.   There’s plenty of pastry shops in Brooklyn, but Court Street Pastry is the only one for me and my family for the past fifty years. Located at 296 Court Street for the past hundred years.

Court Street Pastry

Cannoli is  my favorite dessert, but I have others that I wouldn’t push off my plate.  Their pine nut cookies are delicious.  A family favorite is the St. Martin’s biscuits dunked in a muscatel wine.  A Sicilian tradition for the fall and winter months.

Check out Google for a list of restaurants in Cobble Hill or Carroll Gardens.  You have to visit Brooklyn, even if it’s only once in a lifetime.


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