How to Eat Your Way Around 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst
All photos Sara Ventiera for the Village Voice
It's a trek to take the D or N train down to Bensonhurst, but it's worth doing occasionally, because you'll eat well. With a diverse ethnic backdrop, the area has plenty to offer in terms of tasting multiple cuisines in one tour. While there are plenty of streets worth checking out, 18th Avenue offers a strong mix of Italian and Chinese cuisines within the confines of just a few blocks — it's like Little Italy and Chinatown moved to Brooklyn and had a baby. Here's a guide to eating your way around the 18th Avenue N stop.
Hand Pull Noodle and Dumpling House (7201 18th Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-232-6191)
This week's featured Cheap Eat is a good place to start. (Just make sure you don't overdo it; you're in this for the long haul.) Here, you can pick up noodles and dumplings for a song. The namesake menu items are prime examples of what simple peasant food should be. Dumplings ($4.50) are delicate on the outside with deeply flavored meat within. Noodles ($5 to $7.95), whether pan-fried or served in soup, are impeccably al dente and well seasoned. The menu runs the gamut from traditional, with a large selection of offal and innards, to more Americanized dishes like ham and mushroom. And there's a good chance you won't hear much English being spoken while you're here.
Villabate Alba (7001 18th Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-331-8430)
This neighborhood staple has been seeing lines that stretch around the block for decades. For generations, the Alaimo family has been hailed for its superb Sicilian baked goods and pastries, in a neighborhood that has long been filled with immigrants from the motherland. If you like Italian pastries, there's no going wrong here. The cannoli, however, is truly a work of art on its own. Word to the wise: Don't even try to come here before a holiday. Otherwise, you're in for a queue that can be worse than the Cronut line.
OK Bakery (6820 18th Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-259-5399)
This Chinese bakery feels like walking into someone's living room (TV blasting, no one attempting to leave). Its cases are filled with the usual selection of buns, breads, and pastries, all of which are enticing. But its specialty is the peanut bun. Similar to the ubiquitous coconut bun, this treat is split down the middle, filled with a light and airy cream, then topped all over with chopped peanuts. It's delicious, but not the easiest thing to eat.
Queen Ann Ravioli (7205 18th Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-256-1061)
If you've made those other stops, you're probably bursting out of your belt. Here's a place to pick up pasta for the evening or following day. Since 1972, Queen Ann Ravioli has been proffering its namesake pasta (with fillings you've probably never seen) as well as fettuccine, cavatelli, and more.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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