Have a Vegetarian Taste of Brooklyn in Manhattan at The Brooklyneer

Williamsburg sandwich at the Brooklyneer
Williamsburg sandwich at the Brooklyneer
Photos by Tara Mahadevan for the Village Voice

Owners Aron Watman and Billy Waite opened the Brooklyneer in 2010 as a way to bring a bit of Brooklyn to Manhattan's Village. Though they caught a fair amount of flak for the bar — many thought the Brooklyneer was an effort to condense Brooklyn food culture and trendiness for its patrons — the two were also praised for their selection of Brooklyn-crafted goods. And Watman and Waite opened the Brooklyneer because of their sincere fondness for the borough: Both have been living in Brooklyn for years.

"This was my idea, actually," says Watman. "When we opened this place, that's when Brooklyn starting churning out all the cool Brooklyn brine stuff and pickles and ricotta. So I was like, let's take the best of that and do it in a bar in Manhattan that kind of showcases Brooklyn. Every item has some kind of origin.

"My partner and I built [the Brooklyneer] ourselves; we had very little money," says Watman. "No one wanted the space — it was empty for ten years. The only thing on this block was the Film Forum. We both scraped together what little money we had to open this place." And the bar has been successful — since opening the Brooklyneer, Watman and Waite have opened Hill & Dale and The Folly.

Vegetarians needn't look far for a Brooklyn-inspired meal. On the back of the menu, Watman and Waite have printed a map of the origins of many of their menu items. The Williamsburg sandwich ($12), for example, features fennel beets that were brined in Brooklyn, as well as portobello mushrooms, radish sprouts, and garlic dill yogurt. Since the fennel beets are brined, they are slightly sour, but don't dominate the sandwich. The garlic dill yogurt is somewhat pungent, but also isn't an overshadowing ingredient, and the radish sprouts act in lieu of lettuce.

Ricotta toasts at the Brooklyneer
Ricotta toasts at the Brooklyneer

The ricotta toasts ($9) eat like upgraded bruschetta. Salvatore ricotta (made in Brooklyn), tomato, and walnut sage pesto sit on tiny, crunchy slices of bread. The pesto adds a little garlic kick that is otherwise missing from the dish. You might want to have a breath mint handy.




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