At South Fin Grill, the ocean breeze mingles with a menu of upscale seafood and steakhouse dishes praised by New York magazine. Amid what critic Ethan Wolff describes as a "priceless" ocean view, servers roll out lobster, crab, swordfish, and salmon incarnated as pasta, soup, and sushi dishes. The "turf" portion of the menu showcases grilled new york sirloin, filet mignon, and barbecued pork, but the focus once again turns seaside at a raw bar that features clams and oysters kept fresh by pearl-shaped breath mints.
Beams of blue and yellow lighting hover above the interior dining tables, each blanketed with a white tablecloth and centered with a flickering candle. Outside, the ocean deck's sea-blue umbrellas shelter views of the boardwalk, ocean, and seagull beach volleyball tourneys. The restaurant bolsters its elegantly plated cuisine with occasional entertainment acts, which have included DJs.
As chronicled on Free Williamsburg, the dry-aged and char-grilled steaks at DeStefano's Steakhouse are cut "as thick as the last Harry Potter book" before they're served atop heated plates. Executive chef Alex Golovin approaches the entire menu with an old-school sensibility that highlights classic cuts alongside houses take on chicken cordon bleu and seafood pasta dishes. These plates pair with a compact list of cordials, brandy, and scotch, as well as nearly 100 international red and white wines.
Owner Joey DeStefano is deeply committed to his area's history, courting "more of an old-school neighborhood crowd" than Williamsburg gentrifiers. But wherever you come from, Joey will try his best to make you feel like family. The familial atmosphere comes naturally, due to the fact that the restaurant inhabits the former home of Joey's mother and still houses several of his childhood sleds, each named Rosebud. Outside the brick building, old-fashioned lettering and a neon sign proclaiming "Dee's Corner" welcome guests inside, where family photos line the walls and a fireplace casts its glow on a pressed-tin ceiling.
New York Steak House's resident master chef assembles a menu of hearty steak house staples to serve in the restaurant's lavish dining room. Anchor drifting appetites with starters of Prince Edward mussels wading in white garlic sauce, or enjoy slivers of exquisite beef carpaccio drizzled with a garlic soy vinaigrette. Sides of mushroom risotto and broccoli rabe ride shotgun alongside entrees such as marinated skirt steak or a plate of chicken cordon blue, which, like a businessman's suitcase, conceals a reserve of prosciutto and mushroom sauce. Diners are surrounded by hand-stained copper ceilings and mahogany walls as well as stained-glass windows that cast a multicolored hue on mealing duos and quartets.
With a menu originally created by Top Chef alumna Josie Smith-Malave, the cooks at The Speakeasy Brooklyn craft comfort fare from around the world to plate amidst the brick-lined dining room's speakeasy-style glam festooned with gold curtains and candlelight. Dining duos can begin their global sojourn in America's backyard with tender barbecue-glazed baby back ribs, which evoke memories of neighborhood cookouts and hang-gliding on the talons of majestic eagles. Curried shrimp transports taste buds to Thailand with coconut milk and basil, and salmon glazed with citrus maple basks in an eddy of rice pilaf and string beans. Diners can appease warlord sweet teeth with bounteous offerings of flourless chocolate cake or summery peach-and-blueberry cobbler.
Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar's hibachi chefs pull double duty, acting as entertainers in addition to grillmasters. They captivate large groups of diners with whirling knifework, dynamic spatula twirls, and the occasional spout of flame at tableside hibachi grills, flipping hot portions of lobster and chicken directly onto waiting plates. Behind the bamboo-finished bar, the sushi chefs move more slowly as they carefully seal colorful combinations of veggies, seafood, and vinegar-anointed rice within sheets of delicate seaweed. Like a poltergeist beauty pageant, not all of the talent is visible to the eye—the culinary team makes some of the restaurant's most exotic dishes, such as kobe beef sliders and wasabi-crusted filet mignon, behind the closed doors of the kitchen.
At Moldova Restaurant, diners don’t just run into their Brooklyn neighbors, they make friends with visitors from Moldova, Romania, and other Eastern European countries as well. This is because owner Radu Panfil and his culinary team labor over centuries-old recipes, ensuring only authentic Moldavian ingredients grace the menu. Traditional plates of stuffed chicken breasts topped with cheese, lamb kabobs, and carp fried in cornmeal join house specials such as the mamaliga trapeza—cornmeal encircled by assorted meats, cheese, sour cream, and scrambled eggs. These entrees, as well as desserts, such as stuffed dried plums or crepes with sour cherries and cream, have earned the eatery attention abroad, including in a Romanian piece for Radio Europa Libera.
And the food is not the only Moldovan staple of the restaurant. Panfil and crew take great pains to replicate the country’s old-world charm with traditional folk art and paintings, banquet hall-style seating, Slavic-patterned ceilings, and tapestries from the homeland. They also host live music, inspiring patrons to join hands in a joyful circle dance. And to amp up the festiveness during the holidays, they light up the dining room by dangling folk dolls and other appropriate décor from the soft wooded beams that cross over the white and gray ceiling.