Six More Restaurants Worth Going Aboca

As much as I believe in supporting local businesses, sometimes you have to get out of the bubble. (Aboca = above Canal. No, I’m not really trying to make it happen, and yes, I know that technically some of these are beloca.) All of the photos are courtesy of the restaurants.

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Atla

Everyone loves Atla, and when everyone loves something, I feel a strong contrarian urge. But I was powerless when faced with the food: It’s so good, so right. The fish Milanese (that sauce!), the ayocote hummus, the herbed guacamole, the cauliflower tlayuda, the pineapple-cinnamon agua fresca…. That said, I’ve only been for lunch; the room just seems like someplace that’s nicer during the day. And while Atla used to start serving lunch at noon on weekdays, that got pushed back to 1 p.m., and the breakfast menu is far less exciting. On weekends, Atla serves brunch till 4 p.m. (then dinner), with a menu that leans toward breakfast.

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Pasquale Jones

I’ve never been to Pasquale Jones for dinner either. At first, that was because it was impossible to get a reservation, and also because at night, Nolita restaurants tend to be full of people I don’t want to dine with. But friends recommended it for lunch, and it’s a delight. Adam and I like sitting at the kitchen counter, watching the chefs cook. And the pizza is top-notch, an accolade I don’t bestow lightly. Despite trying to avoid meat whenever possible, we’re pretty much committed to ordering the Diavola, with salami and mint (extra mint, when I remember to ask and they decide to accommodate). Bonus: The restaurant is gratuity-included. Another bonus: Pasquale Jones used to only serve lunch on weekends, but now it’s open on Fridays, and Wednesday and Thursday service will be next. UPDATE 2/12: Just heard from the PR rep that “starting this week, Pasquale Jones will be open for lunch Tuesdays through Sundays.”

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Roman’s

I wish I lived around the corner from Roman’s, which is a part of Fort Greene that’s not near a subway. (The G train doesn’t count.) It’s not trying hard to be much of anything other than good, and perhaps because of the location, it doesn’t have the too-cool vibe—in staff and/or clientele—of Williamsburg siblings Diner, Marlow & Sons, and Reynard. The menu is small; the food is rustic Italian; the gratuity is included in the price.

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Atoboy

Contrary to what this post implies, I do eat more than Italian food. (But in winter, and with the world going to hell in a handbasket, Italian food sure does taste right.) I liked the concept of Atoboy when I first read about it: The restaurant was said to take banchan, the little dishes that accompany a Korean meal, as inspiration. But chef Junghyun Park, formerly chef de cuisine of Jungsik, is executing the idea in a far more complex, even tweezer-y, way than I expected. If I can’t remember exactly what I ate there—a hazard when dishes don’t tend to have one star ingredient—I don’t mind, because I do recall being delighted by the flavors. One demerit: The room calls to mind a Soviet-era bunker; all the more reason to be excited about the Korean kaiseki restaurant that Park and his wife, Ellia, are opening this spring.

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Fausto

I wasn’t looking forward to Fausto, because of the restaurant that used to be in that space: Franny’s, one of my two most favorite restaurants ever, anywhere. So it was rather a shock to see how much more appealing the room is; the place looks fantastic. Chef Erin Shambura‘s food was excellent, and at reasonable prices, but what gets Fausto the recommendation after just one meal is the service. We were waiting at the outer bar, and the bartender came out to take our order and then bring the drinks; naturally, we did not need to settle up before sitting down. Those should be such minor things, and yet they’re so rare. All in all, the experience was far above what I had come to expect from other restaurants (Dell’Anima, L’Artusi, Anfora) co-founder Joe Campanale has been involved with, and I look forward to returning. P.S. Even the lemon ricotta cake, which sounded dull, was outstanding.

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Swyft

My other most favorite restaurant ever, anywhere, was Community Table in Washington, Connecticut. It recently announced that it’ll reopen this spring, which is great news for the area, but I’m even more excited about what the former chef, Joel Viehland, is cooking up in the town of Kent. A historic building in the town center is being used for two restaurants: a more casual one, Swyft, that serves superb pizza and other dishes in a cozy room, and the fancier, yet-to-open Ore Hill, where Viehland’s extraordinary talent will really shine. If you find yourself way, way Aboca, you’d be foolish not to check them out.

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Photo credits: Atla by Liz Barclay; Pasquale Jones by Robyn Lehr; Roman’s by Julia Gillard and Roman’s; Fausto by Liz Clayman; Swyft by Evan Sung.

Previously recommended: Hemlock, Via Carota, Upland, Flora Bar, Agern, Freeks Mill.

9 Comments

  1. Looking forward to trying some of these restaurants. Would you please put the addresses in the future? Just a suggestion.

  2. Pasquale Jones delivers that delicious pizza to Tribeca via Caviar. You can order it uncut – a quick pop into a hot oven and it’s like eating in the restaurant. The clam pizza is sooo good.

  3. Chilaquiles at Atla are [great].

  4. Couldn’t be happier about Ct 2.0!! Mystery solved. Thanks Erik!

  5. How about being a bit more reader friendly and including the addresses right in the write up? Thanks.

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