IL FORNETTO, 2902 Emmons Ave., Sheepshead Bay, NY (Italian/Seafood)

I would eat almost anything just for these beautiful views.

    As aptly noted in their website, whether your quest in a restaurant is for romance, celebration or business, il Fornetto’s beautiful waterfront setting on Sheepshead Bay enhances your visit, either at lunch, dinner or for a private event. While enjoying the ambience of upscale but casual surroundings, you can savor the flavors of authentic Italian cuisine, inspired by the sea."

     But I don't need their website to tell you how wonderful their food is.  Having been their at least a few times, I can personally say: First, that the service is excellent, efficient and proficient and, Second, that the food is absolutely wonderful.  It is sometimes hard to forget that while you are sitting at a table overlooking the beach, watching the swans & the swan family play. 

     The Antipasti is outstanding, especially the MIsto al Fornetto (baked eggplant rollatini, stuffed mushrooms and shrimp oreganata).  The cold Antipasti is also excellent, cold and fresh. There is also a Pizza bar from their wood oven, availale to share as an appetizer. 

      As for your main course, I know that the Fresh Fettuccine with vodka sauce (my favorite) with shrimp, and scallops is heavenly.  I can also say the Fettuccine al Funghetto (cremini, shitake and oyster mushrooms w/ garlic & oil) is also very good.  I have not yet had the Lobster Ravioli w/ grape tomatoes, garlic and a light tomato sauce, but I intend to try it soon.  They also excell at wonderful entre'es, including one of my favorites, Oven Roasted Chicken Breast w/ marscapone gorgonzola, porcini & white wine, with roasted potatoes.  (ok, I have a few favorites).  Its hard not to be tempted by the roasted lamb shank, or the veal scallopini, or the Wood Oven Baked Branzino.  In the end, my vote is for the Wood Oven Baked 1 1/2lb Maine Lobster, shallots, brandy cream sauce w/ Gnocco Fritto Fried Dough.  Can you say no to that?

     If you have room for dessert (you won't) do try their Homemade Italian Cheesecake, Apple Pizzetta, Tiramisu and Gelato.  Oh dear, I could go on.  I do want to note that they have a Prix Fixe dinner menu (except on holidays) for $26.95 (an excellent price) and which actually contains most of the favorites from their main menu. 

     Try this one, you will love it! 

Randazzo's Clam Bar & Restaurant

     Located in Sheepshead Bay, this Landmark restaurant offers some of the finest Seafood and Clam Bar that Brooklyn has to offer.  According to the Randazzo family, you may be seated in our main dining area year-round, or outside, weather permitting.   The menu features an array of seafood such as Clams (noted by the Voice as "the best in town, putting others to shame", Lobsters, Calamari, as well as Chicken Frances, Stuff Filet, Chicken Cutlets, King Crab Legs & much, much more. With your choice of hot or medium sauce.

     Personally, I love a restaurant with history.  As they say, practice makes perfect.  Here, Here, quoting from their restaurant "Helen Randazzo was the founder of Randazzo's Clam Bar. The history and conception of Randazzo's Clam Bar can be dated back to 1916, when Helen's father started out in the fish distribution business. Over the years, Helen's father caught and sold fish all across the waters, from bay to bay. This opened Helen's eyes. In 1960 Helen created a masterpiece recipe that is considered to be "the best world famous tomato sauces" on the market today. [I'm guessing some would differ from that idea, but it is good]. From Succulent Lobster, Scungilli & Mussels to Shrimp and Delicious Clams & Calamari, Randazzo’s Sauce is a great addition to any meal. Helen Randazzo has a special place in her heart for her sauce. Known for the TLC she used in all of her cooking, it was the sauce that sprung the opening of their first Clam Bar in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Throughout the years, the success of the Randazzo name inspired the opening of an additional location which was bigger and better then the original. In 1994, Randazzo’s closed its doors to their adjacent location. And in doing so, this added more dishes to the magnificent menu you find at Randazzo’s today. Come in and experience why they claim to be the "Pride of Sheepshead Bay"!

     As far as I'm concerned, if there is a place were I can sit outside in the shade and enjoy a good clambake, I'm in heaven.  Randazzo's seems to have all the fixin's, including the lobster, soups, and outdoor seating.  Although they do boast a Specialty called Randazzo's Burnt Chicken.  Not sure what that's all about.  The rest of the specialties abound with seafood, including, Stuffed Shrimp, Shrimp Francese, Zuppa Di Pesce, Mixed Fried Fish Lobster Randazzo, Stuffed Lobster, Lobster Fra Diavalo, Alaskan King Crab Legs & Lobster Tail -- among other items.  They do have a thing for french fries - I'm going to have to investigate that also.  Maybe its a brooklyn thing. 

     I think the question for all of you out there is: do the clams at Randazzo's measure up to the clams at Don Pepe?   (or am I going to get a knife in the back for that?)

SEA THAI RESTAURANT, Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY

     Hopping on over to the newly up and coming Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, you suddenly feel like you are in a mini-manhattan.  The dining has improved, as has the neighborhood.  Its quite a site to see (no pun intended) and quite a lovely to spend and afternoon or eveneing.

     On a recent visit,we at at SEA THAI Restaurant, and I must say, it was visually stunning.  Its one of those places you go just to check out the innovative bathrooms.  (By the way, have you noticed the bathrooms in the restaurants these days? Hmm, I am sure getting old when I cant figure out how to turn on a faucet!)  Anyway, back to SEA, the menu is typical Thai, but all with that unusual twist or fusion touch.  My favorite, the Pad Thai, was delicious.  The crispy spring rolls and calamari appetizers were excellent.  Each of their rices that we were able to try were perfectly cooked, as were the noodle dishes, and the steamed or stir-fried meats and fish. 

     SEA's Specialties, like the Emperor's Jumbo Shrimp with mushroom & asparagus; the Grilled Fillet of Salmon with mixed vegetables and tamarind and the Geyser Shrimp in a Clay Pot, stir fried with vermicelli and ginger were all notable.  And I should mention that the prices at SEA are very reasonable.   I think they get you at the Bar!

     I find it a little disturbing that although you can view photos of their food on line, you cannot reproduce them in any manner, including with their permission.  So here, all you will get is a photo of their interior.  Which I believe is the only reason I will go back.  That and to try and figure out those restrooms!!

 

TOP 10 IN WILLIAMSBURG, GREENPOINT & BUSHWICK

So, as a long Island Girl, born and raised, I don't get out to my family's home territory very often.  But as its an up and coming shopping and eating mecca, you should have something to choose from without going to another website.  With your understanding, I'm going to link you to the best site I have found, and summerize some of the best restaurants here.  

The website is www.freewilliamsburg.com, and this is what I've found.

 

Screen shot 2010 04 16 at 6.24.29 PM Rye

Rye

RYE, South Williamsburg

With its pre-prohibition era décor and the best Old Fashioned we’ve ever tasted (theirs is made with rye, of course) Rye is a hidden gem. Don’t miss the meatloaf sandwich — it’s made with ground veal, pork, short rib, and duck and comes with house-made pickles. It’s decadent, but amazing. Rye makes a great Bloody Mary too, with a touch of anise, which goes perfect with their Sunday brunch.

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Roberta's

 

Roberta’s

ROBERTA’S

 Brunch (Weekends), Bushwick, Italian,

You’ll feel like you’ve been invited to a farmhouse in Vermont, until you taste the brick oven pizza which will transport you to Italy. Many ingredients are grown on premises in the garden outside. This is our favorite restaurant in Bushwick. Start with a pizza to share and be sure to try one of the seasonal entrees. The Times call Roberta’s “one of the more extraordinary restaurants in the United States.” We agree.

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Marlow & Sons

 

Marlow & Sons c/o NY Mag

MARLOW & SONS

 American Nouveau, Bedford, Breakfast, Brunch (Weekends), Seafood:  With a moody backdrop of the Williamsburg Bridge this tiny little hole-in-the-wall is our favorite place to go for a good glass of vino and oysters on the halfshell. The menu will please localvores and the intimate atmosphere couldn’t be more inviting. Great for a date, but prepare to wait on the weekends.

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BOZU

TAGS: Bedford, Garden/Outdoor Seating, Izakaya, Japanese/Sushi, Lorimer

Sit at the bar at this cozy Japanese joint and enjoy a handful of their small plates. We love the pork belly and the shrimp dumplings, but you can’t go wrong with the sushi either. The strawberry infused vodka is wonderful and has been aged for 8 years and counting. Get a glass to help wash down the fried octopus balls, which we’re told are a staple Japanese bar food. On nice days, the garden is beautiful and festive.

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Screen shot 2010 04 08 at 3.44.10 PM Fette Sau

 

Fette Sau

FETTE SAU

TAGS: BBQ, Bedford, Delivery, Garden/Outdoor Seating,

Prepare to wait in line, but if you’re hankering for a no-frills plate of meat served by the pound, you’ll love Fette Sau. We recommend the pork belly which is hands-down the best (and most fatty) thing on the menu. Otherwise, avoid ribs and meat served on the bone — everything is good, but you are paying by the pound after all. On the downside, the potato salad and the other sides are generally flavorless.

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Gwynnett St.

 

image c/o Gastrochic

ALLSWELL

Spotted Pig veteran Nate Smith, opens a no-frills locavore joint just off the main Bedford drag. And it’s darn good. Formerly a polish diner that looks more like an Eastern European hunting lodge, Allswell is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Menu varies from night to night, so be sure to check their website. Brunch is especially good and nowhere near as crowded as many other Williamsburg favorites.

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Brooklyn Star

Brooklyn Star

BROOKLYN STAR

TAGS:American Traditional, Lorimer, Open Late, Restaurants, Southern

Finally, my kind of place.  Now in a new more spacious location — the original restaurant closed after a large-scale fire — Brooklyn Star is now serving up comfort food with a Nawlins twist. They no longer have a brick oven, but the menu remains largely the same. And by that, we mean its delicious. Must have dishes include the Dr. Pepper ribs and the pulled pork.

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st anselm The 20 Best Restaurants in Williamsburg, Greenpoint
 and Bushwick

 

image c/o NY Times

ST. ANSELM

TAGS:American Nouveau, BBQ, Bedford, Steakhouse, Wine Bar,

St. Anselm reopened in 2011 with an all-new menu and the difference shows. From the owners of Spuyten Duyvil and Fette Sau, St. Anselm is now an essential Williamsburg dining experience. As NY Mag points out, the wines are as amazing as the food: As impressive as St. Anselm is on the food front, it’s even more so on the wine. If Spuyten Duyvil demonstrates Joe Carroll’s exceptional beer geekery and Fette Sau his fluency with American whiskeys, then St. Anselm proves that he’s also a major oenophile with ecstatically offbeat taste and the guts to veer away from big-ticket Bordeaux and Napa Cab convention. His list itself is worthy of multiple trips, if only to sample rare by-the-glass selections of “yellow” wines from the Jura (vinified like fino ­sherry), “orange” wine from Friuli-Venezia (tinted by exposure to white-grape skins), and draft picks from two of the region’s most experimental producers (Red Hook Winery and Channing Daughters). Visionary winemakers both present and past populate the list, from Abe Schoener to Dr. Konstantin Frank, but what really sets it apart is the array of half-bottles, nearly five dozen opportunities to match each course, be it fish or fowl or succulent red meat, to its perfect pairing.

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piesnthighs The 20 Best Restaurants in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick

 

Pies N Thighs

PIES-N-THIGHS

TAGS: Bedford, Breakfast, Brunch (Weekends), Delivery, Garden/Outdoor Seating, South Williamsburg, Southern

Gotta love a piece of the South in Brooklyn.  And it about time!  If you want homemade biscuits, fried chicken, pulled pork and other things that could send you into cardiac arrest, go here. It makes the risk one worth taking. From kale to mac-n-cheese to blackeyed peas, you could make a meal from the impeccable sides alone. Comfort food at its best and you can’t beat the price (entrees are $10-$12 bucks). On the downside the pies are just mediocre, especially after indulging in the amazing chicken and waffles.

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Screen shot 2010 06 09 at 5.47.01 PM 300x288 Paulie Gees

 

Paulie Gee’s

PAULIE GEES

TAGS: Fairly Cheap, Greenpoint, Pizza

The only place in New York where we don’t mind waiting 45 minutes to eat pizza. (Nope, not me.  I won't wait anywhere 45 minutes for pizza) It’s that good. (ha!)  (Plus we can always meander next door for craft beer at Brouwerij Lane while we wait.) Paulie’s brick oven pies, served up in a beautifully renovated warehouse that looks more like a barn you’d find in upstate New York, are our favorite Brooklyn. Sorry Robertas. Start with the Greenpointer — a white pie with Fior di Latte, Baby Arugula, Olive Oil, Fresh Lemon Juice and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano — and be sure to try one of the pies that has hot honey on it. Wash it all down with one of the many craft beers they have on the menu. A true Greenpoint gem. 

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Screen shot 2010 10 19 at 3.01.39 PM 300x200 Five Leaves

 

Five Leaves

FIVE LEAVES

TAGS: American Nouveau, Breakfast, Brunch (Weekends), Coffee Shop/Cafe, Delivery, Fancy Cocktails, Garden/Outdoor Seating

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Gwynnett St.

 

Gwynnett St.

GWYNNETT ST.

TAGS: Fairly Expensive, Fancy Cocktails, Recently Opened, Recommended

WD-50 Veteran, Justin Hilbert, brings impeccable locavore cuisine to the Graham Avenue stop. The desserts show his love of molecular gastronomy without compromising flavor and the Amish Chicken is the best chicken we have ever eaten, um, anywhere. Simply amazing. From the NY Times: Mr. Hilbert’s style of cuisine is not yet common in this pocket of Williamsburg. In fact, cooking this sophisticated would be a find anywhere in New York.  And while it is a restaurant in Brooklyn, Gwynnett St. is not really a Brooklyn restaurant. There are no butchers’ tools hanging from reclaimed barn doors. Under the eye of Carl McCoy, the proprietor, the dining room staff is calmly professional, utterly free of pretense and attitude. Nobody is the least bit likely to pull up a chair and offer to show you pictures of the sauerkraut the chef is currently fermenting inside a pair of Red Wing boots.

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 Groups, Greenpoint, Pizza, Recommended

The only place in New York where most don’t mind waiting 45 minutes to eat pizza. (Says who?)  I won't wait 45 minutes for any food)  But they say it’s that good. (Ha! its Pizza!)  (Plus we can always meander next door for craft beer at Brouwerij Lane while we wait.) Paulie’s brick oven pies, served up in a beautifully renovated warehouse that looks more like a barn you’d find in upstate New York, are our favorite Brooklyn. Sorry Robertas. Start with the Greenpointer — a white pie with Fior di Latte, Baby Arugula, Olive Oil, Fresh Lemon Juice and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano — and be sure to try one of the pies that has hot honey on it. Wash it all down with one of the many craft beers they have on the menu. A true Greenpoint gem

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ny620 Diner

 

DINER

TAGS: American Nouveau, American Traditional, Bedford, Brunch (Weekends), Burgers, Diner, Garden/Outdoor Seating, Open Late, South Williamsburg

Located near the rustic Williamsburg Bridge, when you step into Diner, which inhabits a refurbished 1926-dining car, you’re immediately transported to another era. Serving American nuveau food, the menu appears sparse at first until you realize that each entrée is a constantly changing special of the day. Brunch is our favorite meal there, although the dinner ranks pretty high on our list as well.

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Screen shot 2010 03 30 at 12.56.24 PM Brooklyn Bowl

 

Brooklyn Bowl

BROOKLYN BOWL

TAGS: American Traditional, BBQ, Bowling, Groups, Live Music, Southern

Bowling alleys aren’t generally known for their food, but most don’t have award-winning chefs cooking for them either. The people behind Blue Ribbon Seafood have taken a stab at American comfort food and are largely successful. We love their wings and fried chicken, but the oyster po’ boy and catfish sandwich are great too. Wash it down with one of the many local beers they have on tap.

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RUNNER-UPS

ACAPULCO – Amazing old school Mexican joint. Don’t miss the chorizo tacos and the house-made guac.
ANELLA – Tasty locavore fare in a low-traffic area of Greenpoint.
BACI & ABBRICI – Love the food, especially the perfect homemade lasagna.
THE COMMODORE – More of a bar vibe, but go for the fried chicken.
D.O.C. WINE BAR – Romantic and perfect for wine and snacks.
DRESSLER – Great American cuisine beneath the Williamsburg bridge.
FORNINI – Sublime brick oven pizza.
KARCZMA – Great traditional Polish fare.
MAISSON PREMIERE – The best oysters in Williamsburg and only a buck a pop during happy hour. This would have made our top 20, but it’s more of a bar than a restaurant.
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS – Great drinks and the nachos with fried plantains are to die for.
NORTHEAST KINGDOMOne of our favorite brunch spots and along with Roberta’s is helping to raise the bar for great food in Bushwick.
PETER’S SINCE 1969 – Great meatloaf and yummy sides when you want comfort in a hurry.
SALTIE – Great sandwiches in a cute storefront.
TABARE – Great food from Uruguay served by some very nice people in a quaint and romantic spot.
WALTER FOODS – One of our favorite brunch spots and a great raw bar. Don’t miss the catfish and the french dip for dinner.

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ACCESS ALL OF OUR LISTINGS AT WWW.FREEWILLIAMSBURG.COM/LISTINGS

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RUNNER-UPS

ACAPULCO – Amazing old school Mexican joint. Don’t miss the chorizo tacos and the house-made guac.
ANELLA – Tasty locavore fare in a low-traffic area of Greenpoint.
BACI & ABBRICI – Love the food, especially the perfect homemade lasagna.
THE COMMODORE – More of a bar vibe, but go for the fried chicken.
D.O.C. WINE BAR – Romantic and perfect for wine and snacks.
DRESSLER – Great American cuisine beneath the Williamsburg bridge.
FORNINI – Sublime brick oven pizza.
KARCZMA – Great traditional Polish fare.
MAISSON PREMIERE – The best oysters in Williamsburg and only a buck a pop during happy hour. This would have made our top 20, but it’s more of a bar than a restaurant.
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS – Great drinks and the nachos with fried plantains are to die for.
NORTHEAST KINGDOMOne of our favorite brunch spots and along with Roberta’s is helping to raise the bar for great food in Bushwick.
PETER’S SINCE 1969 – Great meatloaf and yummy sides when you want comfort in a hurry.
SALTIE – Great sandwiches in a cute storefront.
TABARE – Great food from Uruguay served by some very nice people in a quaint and romantic spot.
WALTER FOODS – One of our favorite brunch spots and a great raw bar. Don’t miss the catfish and the french dip for dinner.

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ACCESS ALL OF THE ABOVE LISTINGS, AND MORE AT WWW.FREEWILLIAMSBURG.COM/LISTINGS

Fiona Goldstein is the food editor of Free Williamsburg. Contact her at fiona@freewilliamsburg.com for any questions/comments.