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In Williamsburg Spot, Pork-Brain Quesadillas Rule: Review

Peter Luger
A typical Peter Luger meal. The restaurant has been a mainstay of Williamsburg dining since 1887. Source: Peter Luger via Bloomberg

    June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Bohemian Williamsburg, Brooklyn, graduated from its starving-artist roots long ago, but for years committed gourmands had to ride the L train to Manhattan in search of a great meal (unless they were carnivores splurging at Peter Luger Steakhouse).

Lately, serious chefs serving inventive dishes or classics given a first-rate spin are the norm. And in Brooklyn, you usually don’t have to call three weeks in advance to book a table -- though you may have to strategize to avoid waiting.

Here are a few of my favorites:

1 or 8

An unmarked restaurant serving Japanese-fusion food in a gleaming white interior, this self-described “atelier of food” boasts impeccable yet unfussy service.

Try the multi-course omakase, a bargain at $45. Grilled lamb on the bone makes for a refined appetizer ($12).

There’s also an extensive sake list. Try unfiltered Kamoizumi Junmai Ginjyo ($6 the glass, $38 the bottle), or Tokubetsu Junmai ($56 the bottle), a slightly dry, fruity brew with a great finish.

At 66 South 2nd St. Information: +1-718-384-2152; http://www.oneoreightbk.com.

Beco

Pao de queijo, small, piping hot buns flavored with cheese, are almost impossible to find in New York. Look no further than this tiny boteco-style place, with small bites as well as big dishes and Brazilian cocktails.

Try traditional feijoada or shrimp stew with coconut milk and cilantro.

About the size of a broom closet, the open kitchen often gets overwhelmed, but the Maracuja Capiroska, a drink made with passion fruit and vodka, will keep you happy while you wait for your food. And the tab will likely be under $40 per person, including alcohol.

At 45 Richardson St. Information: +1-718-599-1645; http://becobar.com.

Diner

An American bistro in what used to be a diner. The food is classic American and consistently good. Popular entrees include duck breast with spaetzle and apples in a beef bordelaise ($21), and braised chicken with eggplant and squash ($18).

Top it off with lemon custard pie with whipped cream ($8).

At 85 Broadway at Berry St. Information: +1-718-486-3077; http://dinernyc.com.

Fette Sau

“Fat Pig” in German, this BBQ rubs and smokes 500 pounds of meat at a time, serving up beef ribs and shoulders, flank steak, leg of lamb and pork belly. It’s served on butcher paper and you pay by weight.

They take no reservations, so be prepared to wait in line, then jockey with mustachioed 20-somethings for tables. The food, when you finally get it, is worth it. Don’t miss the succulent, melt-in-your-mouth brisket.

At 354 Metropolitan Avenue near Havemeyer Street. Information: +1-718-963-3404; http://www.fettesaubbq.com.

Gwynnett Street

This new American restaurant has a mellow vibe and serves palate-pleasing, creative dishes.

Be sure to start with homemade whiskey bread -- served warm with cultured butter, it’s dense yet moist and rich enough to qualify as a meal ($5).

Try prime beef ribeye cap, with parsley root and pickled bone marrow ($30) or lobster with black trumpet mushrooms ($30).

The wine list is fairly short, reasonably priced and has a few nice surprises.

At 312 Graham Avenue near Ainslie St. Information: +1-347-889-7002; http://www.gwynnettst.com.

Isa

The interior of this modern American eatery is reminiscent of a trippy Swedish barn, but the scene -- impossibly attractive people having a nice time in an improbably low-decibel setting -- would be worth the trip even if the food weren’t this good.

Dishes are deftly done and often have a smoky accent. The menu is fairly limited and changes often -- there’s cod, duck, rib-eye -- so your best bet is to order the prix fixe ($50-60) and let the chef decide.

348 Wythe Avenue near South Second St. Information: +1-347-689-3594; http://isa.gg/isa.

La Superior

Delicious food keeps the crowds coming to this ridiculously inexpensive Mexican restaurant. Try the cochinita pibil (slow-cooked pork in banana leaves, $2.50 per taco) or the flautas de pollo (chicken in a crispy tortilla topped with salsa, $5.50).

For the adventurous, there are sesadillas, or pork brain quesadillas ($3). The menu instructs “Don’t ask. Get them!”

Wash it all down with great margaritas.

At 295 Berry St. near Second St. Information: +1-718-388-5988; http://www.lasuperiornyc.com.

St. Anselm

Opened by Fette Sau owner Joe Carroll, this steakhouse serves hormone-and-antibiotic-free protein for reasonable prices, like a sizzling butcher’s steak with garlic butter ($15) or shoulder blade lamb chop with mint gremolata ($21).

Starters, like avocado and shrimp salad ($10) and sides, including fresh spinach gratin ($6) and grilled long beans ($5) are great sides with any of the meats.

No reservations, so there may be a wait if you arrive at prime time.

At 355 Metropolitan Ave. near Havemeyer St. Information: +1-718-384-5054. ‎

(James Tarmy writes for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Rich Jaroslovsky on tech and Jason Harper on cars.

To contact the writer on the story: James Tarmy in New York at Jtarmy@gmail.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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