Atlantic Avenue’s equivalent to Jefferson Market, Dean & Deluca, E.A.T., and the like, Sahadi (187 Atlantic Avenue; 718-624-4550) comes with an Arabic flair. It draws Middle Eastern immigrants from other boroughs to delve into seductive barrels and canvas bags full of olives, dates, dried lentils, couscous, and various herbs and spices. But Sahadi’s inventory doesn’t stop with things from the East; it features these delicacies in addition to the usual top-grade gourmet store stock. And the staff somehow remains friendly regardless of the length of the weekend lines.
Continuing the tour of “Little Arabia” (as it is sometimes called) along Atlantic Avenue, Damascus Bakery (195 Atlantic Ave.; 718-625-7070) is truly Pita Heaven – endless piles of pitas (in more sizes than you might imagine pitas would need to come in) line the shelves here. The spinach pies are delicious and cheap ($1.35). But my personal favorite is the mouth-watering baklava with its super-light pastry layers and crushed nuts and honey.
The proprietor of Rashid’s (191 Atlantic Ave.; 718-852-3295) claims to have the largest collection of Arabic books, videos, and music in the city. (Who’s to argue? – he does seem to have an extremely large inventory.) Snatch up your copies of “Songs from the Gulf” and LPs of fifties belly dancing music here.
Who can forget the passionate molto Italiano scenes of Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck in front of a coal-fired oven? Certainly not the residents of Carroll Gardens, who point with continued veneration to Cammareri Brothers (502 Henry St.; 718-852-3606), the site of the shoot for that particular scene. The proprietor, Gilberto Godoy, actually an Argentine, had a line in the movie (“Ronnie, someone’s looking for you over here”). His joint has great bread (especially the ciabatta), which Mr. Godoy supplies to the baskets of the River Cafe, Morgans’ Hotel, and the Water Club.
I don’t know many places in the city where you can live on the ground floor of a brownstone with huge windows onto the street and not hear anynoise at night or in the early morning – no garbage trucks, no police sirens, not even the chatter of passers-by. But that’s what it’s like on Carroll Gardens’ peaceful, treelined blocks. Whether this is the product of having a relatively elderly community with early bedtimes or whether the rumored mafia presence keeps the peace, I don’t know. Frankly, as long as it stays this way, I don’t really give a damn.
In a neighborhood in which there’s a serious dearth of movie houses, thank God for Cobble Hill Cinema (265 Court St.; 718-596-9113). Cobble Hill’s combo of Angelika-type programming with big-time Hollywood action films guarantees satisfaction no matter what your mood. A recent lineup: The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, Oscar and Lucinda, As Good As It Gets, and The Wings of the Dove. You can even catch the bargain matinee (the first show before 2 p.m.) for just five bucks. Only complaint: The seats are lumpy.
After seeing a cowboy riding his horse through Carroll Gardens one night, I resolved to drink a little less on my next big night out. But it turns out that these urban cowboys actually do exist, and are known to bar-hop through Brooklyn and use parking spaces for their steeds. The three main riders: Mark Pariti (he runs a construction company), Doug Elder (retired NYNEX purchasing agent) and Johnny Davis (a custodian for the Board of Education). Part-time cowboys in the big city? Heigh-ho, Silver.
Run by a brother-sister team, Kalio (254 Court St.; 625-7414) has the kind of yellow walls and candlelight that call to mind romantic dinners for two. But it’s the bistro’s eclectic fare that really stands out – salmon gravlax with tequila and melon salsa, grilled pork chops with red mole sauce, and walnut-and-pumpkin-seed crusted salmon. My absolute favorite: the tuna dish with baby bok choy, wasabi, and rice cakes.
All hail the gas-guzzler! In a city in which an automobile owner invariably must trek endless blocks just to tank up (and usually at a solitary, overpriced station), Atlantic Avenue pays homage to car culture (and free-market competition) with a triumvirate of gaseterias – Mobil, Amoco, and Shell – all conveniently located within a five-block radius.
While Carroll Garden’s flavor remains a resolutely old-fashioned neighborhood in terms of cuisine, the arrival of Rosina’s Bistro (288 Smith Street; 718-855-0681) on a previously barren stretch of Smith Street gives hope to those in search of a dining experience that has more to offer than a big ol’ plate of spaghetti and meatballs every night (which I am not knocking, mind you). The food? One word: Delicious. For more details, check New York Magazine’s Underground Gourmet review.