If you want a taste of history, look no further than Patsy's. Occupying the same spot for nearly 80 years, the shop first earned success with Italian immigrants in the 1930s, who were drawn to the cozy eatery in part for it's authentic cuisine and partly for the homey atmosphere created by owners and newlyweds Pasquale "Patsy" and Carmella Lancieri. As time passed, it became a popular hangout for famous crooners including Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, who may have crossed paths with Yankees regulars Joe Dimaggio and Yogi Berra on any given night. Subsequent decades saw the pizza joint serving as a popular hangout for Francis Ford Coppola, who supposedly drew inspiration for his characters in The Godfather during late-night stops at Patsy's, while politicians such as Rudy Guiliani, Michael Bloomberg, and Spiro Agnew all used the eatery as a popular place to address voters. But while the faces are always changing, one thing at Patsy's has remained the same: the pizza. Baked in a coal-fired oven, the pizzas emerge with a bubbling thin crust that New York Magazine dubs "awe-inspiring". Toppings run the gamut from traditional pepperoni and sausage, to gourmet grilled chicken or prosciutto, while a dessert pizza swaps out sauce and cheese for a sweet-spread of chocolate and hazelnuts. Comfort cuisine is also prevalent on the non-pizza side of the menu, with plates piled high with spaghetti or ziti and topped with homemade meatballs and marinara, or chicken marsala, which arrives with Portobello mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and a wool scarf hand-knit by one of the waiters' grandmothers.
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.
In 2011, the Michelin Guide recommended Vareli for its upscale and creative Mediterranean fare, crafted by chef and Gramercy Tavern veteran Amitzur Mor. Chef Mor uses sustainable and organic ingredients whenever possible to inform Vareli’s ever-shifting local menu, which has featured such rich meats as Hudson-Valley duck and Pennsylvania lamb. Resident sommelier Richard Bill draws from his experience at Beacon and Ouest to complement each succulent entree with a wine list of 20 wines by the glass and 100 wines by the bottle. From Thursday to Saturday, Vareli’s kitchens remain open until 2 a.m., so patrons can sip vino and draft beer or rouse sleepwalking roommates with wafts from cheese and charcuterie boards late into the night.
On the ground floor of Vareli, a polished copper bar runs for 20 feet below a rustic arched ceiling, as wide stools belly up to the bar and to barrel-shaped plates. In the upstairs dining room, wide windows look out on treetops and burnished walls support velvety banquettes and lantern sconces. During the summer, couples close in on an intimate outdoor patio for fresh air from nearby Central Park, while colder days invite diners to gather around a cracking fireplace that the New York Times lauds for creating a cozy atmosphere.
Lovin’ Cup’s owners had a dream of creating a place that celebrates life’s pleasures and offers the unique and personal experience each of their customers seeks. And to achieve that dream, it took the combined efforts of all five owners to truly fill Lovin' Cup to the brim, each one specializing in a different area of the culinary arts or entertainment. The crew started with a simple, delicious menu of familiar eats made right, such as Angus beef burgers, gourmet pizzas, and hearty sandwiches. They paired these, with an array of craft beers on tap – plus more than 50 varieties in bottles – and a carefully curated list of international wines.
To entertain the brain's higher functions, they host game nights every Monday, open mic performances every Tuesday, and live music of every genre on Thursdays. Performances rotate between jazz, alt-country, indie, and rock groups as often as they change out their drafts on tap and, presumably, their socks. And finally, the owners paid similarly close attention to the artistic décor of their space, from the polished wood of their wine racks and tables to the mutable collection of art that peppers the walls.
In 1909, Frank Pepe immigrated to the United States from his native town of Maiori, Italy. He was poor, illiterate, and just 16 years old—but he had a strong work ethic. After a stint in a New Haven factory and service as an Italian solider in World War I, he settled down for good in New Haven with his wife, Filomena, and started a bakery delivery service. But because he couldn’t read, he had trouble deciphering the orders. So he started having his customers come to him, and in 1925, he and Filomena added a simple item to the menu: Neapolitan-style pizzas.
To this day, the staff still heats up coal-fired ovens to bake the original tomato pies that Frank and Filomena first made famous. They can also add toppings such as bacon, Italian-imported anchovies, and house-roasted red peppers to their pizzas, or create specialty pies such as their signature white clam with olive oil, fresh garlic, and oregano. Diners can pair their pies with Pepe’s salad, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, or have the server tap draft brews such as Sam Adams Boston Lager and Peroni. They’ve served Foxon Park soda since 1925, so diners can request bottles of cream soda or diet white-birch beer made from only the sveltest birch trees.