O Lavrador means "the farmer" in Portuguese, making it an apt name for a restaurant that serves Portuguese food, as Portugal is often described as a "garden planted by the sea." The Iberian menu at O Lavrador Restaurant & Bar's actually combines both Portuguese and Spanish culinary traditions, and has been doing so for 33 years, often showcasing seafood. In addition to saut?d lobster, mussels, and octopus, the menu also includes garlic and spicy piri-piri, seared filet mignon, and grilled rosemary lamb chops. Inside the space, hanging lanterns cast patterned light against brick walls, a wooden canopy, and hand-painted murals, swaying gently above diners enjoying traditional desserts, such as port-poached pear, sweet mousse layered with "bolacha maria" cookies, and caramel flan.
Though each handmade pie at Antonio's Pizzeria & Wine Bar begins with a mound of dough, none ever look identical once they emerge from the eatery's brick oven. That's because diners festoon their order with a choice of more than 20 toppings, including fried eggplant and BBQ chicken. Along with customized pies, Antonio's chefs whip up 13 specialties with fixings such as penne pasta and vodka sauce.
Besides its signature pies, the Antonio's culinary team crafts plenty of other pizzeria favorites, from meatball parmesan heroes to generous portions of veal marsala. Bartenders complement the hearty feasts with an extensive selection of wines sourced the world over, as well as frosty craft brews, soft drinks, or specialty coffees.
Henry grew up riveted by his father's stories of the mysterious, powerful people known as Falansai. Having fled to Vietnam from World War II?era China, Dad always had plenty of anecdotes about the Falansai, whom he'd often chauffeur across Saigon in his taxi cab. Throughout Henry's childhood, stories of these wealthy and mysterious Falansai bloomed in Henry's imagination.
Years passed before Henry learned why the Falansai weren't in the history books: his dad was mispronouncing "Francais"?the French.
The harmony of cultures that characterizes his dad's experiences, says Henry, exemplifies the multiculturalism of Vietnam as a whole. At his aptly named restaurant, Henry plumbs the expanse of Vietnam's culinary fusion to create a dynamic menu, drawing upon Vietnamese culture's blend of French, Chinese, and traditional elements to craft each dish. Sometimes Henry even imbues items with other cross-cultural fusion, as in the Buffalo-style wings made with Vietnamese tamarind and Thai?American Sriracha. In the same multicultural vein, the staff often suggests bottles of American beer and French wines, especially for patrons who need to send messages across the Atlantic.
Despite his restaurant's global ambition, Henry celebrates the local culture as well. Falasai often draws patrons' attention to their own community, maintaining an online presence that celebrates Bushwick's local gallery and street-art scene.
After five years managing a retail store, Ana realized she wanted to sell something else entirely: food. So she enrolled in culinary school, where she first honed the skills she now displays at Simplicity Wine Bar & Cafe. Her tapas range from spicy veggie empanadas served with pineapple-mango aioli to cayenne-spiced chocolate cupcakes. With numerous organic varietals to boot, a frequently updated selection of wine by the glass and bottle complements Ana's cuisine and confections.
When eyes aren't glued to Ana's artfully plated dishes, they're probably busy taking in Simplicity's nightly entertainment. The lineup includes plenty of café staples, such as poetry nights, open mics, and Sunday afternoon concerts by award-winning guitarist Jorge Arévalo Mateus. On weekends, live DJs convert the bar into a dancehall by spinning classic reggae and hip-hop tunes.
At Winegasm Bar & Eatery, patrons poke fun at New York's smoking ban with cigars made of cheese. The menu’s housemade ricotta and feta sticks contribute delicious class to the venue's already-elegant setting: a long dining room replete with wooden shelving that features individual niches for wine bottles. At one end of the space, metal grating spirals into a curlicued design to decorate a tall archway, and the other end ensconces tables in a small alcove of exposed brick topped with a wide mirror. But it's the centerpiece of the room—a sprawling table with more than 12 chairs—that most embodies the eatery's aim of enabling shared stories, hosting communal bites, and encouraging angry juries to really consider all the evidence.
Time Out New York mentions the "sexy little winecentric spot" as an ideal place for splitting small plates. Its Mediterranean-style tapas include bacon-wrapped prunes and steamed mussels, savory openers for burgers or paninis. Also on the roster are platters of prosciutto and gruyere, specialty pizzetas, and fondue—both cheese and chocolate. Given the restaurant's name, however, many guests immediately dive into the wine list for libations from Europe and beyond, using a legend to discern if bottles are organic, made locally, or prepped sustainably. Diners can also sip cocktails and beers as well as reds and whites, tuning in to live music from area artists on Thursdays.
With large parties, weekend DJs, and a menu of traditional fare, Déjà Vu celebrates Bulgarian backgrounds. Within its cavernous, dimly lit bar, liquor bottles hang upside down like glowing, drinkable stalactites. Happy-hour specials, which include $2 off any drink and two-for-one drink specials, are available Monday through Friday between 5 and 8 p.m. Those craving Bulgarian bites can enjoy dishes from its Mediterranean-influenced menu, such as tarator, a chilled cucumber soup common in the region ($5). For heartier hunger-havers, the kitchen cooks up its Déjà Vu Grille, where a grilled, flat meatball shares plate space with homemade skinless sausages and a red-vegetable spread ($11). Cleanse a hopeful palate with the sweet-and-savory Vesuvius, which includes honey and walnuts atop thick yogurt ($5), a veritable stratovolcano for the mouth, sans only the accompanying Roman ruins.