Bushwick’s seen a host of new restaurants move in over the course of the past couple of years, and there are clear signs that the growth will only continue. And so it was very strange when not a single one of the neighborhood’s eateries made the roster of spots celebrating Brooklyn Restaurant Week a few months back. Bob Murray and Nick Gilbert, partners in a venture called NFA Catering, stepped in to correct that oversight, creating Bushwick Restaurant Week to bring together the community’s spots to offer diners from around the boroughs a week of specials and good reason to check out the area’s culinary stylings.
We caught up with Murray, who gave us the details on what to expect and explained why it’s worth heading to this northern Brooklyn neighborhood sometime this week.
What’s your history with the neighborhood?
I’ve lived in Bushwick for the last six years, and I’ve been involved mostly in production. Only recently did I decide to do something still related to production but down a slightly different road, and I teamed up with a chef to start NFA Catering, a catering business that works with television, movies, and fashion shows in northern Brooklyn. We launched at the beginning of the year.
Where did Bushwick Restaurant Week come from?
We heard Marty Markowitz had forgotten about Bushwick during the Brooklyn-wide restaurant week, and we thought that was a real shame. So my business partner and I started talking about it and we decided to do a Bushwick Restaurant Week. That was nine weeks ago. It took nine weeks to go from idea to execution.
There are great institutions out here, great restaurants, great bars, great cafes, and a brand-new ice creamery. We want to build the culture and lifestyle of Bushwick and highlight how it’s unique unto itself.
How does it work?
Restaurants had the option of doing one of two things, and most are doing both: a 15 percent across-the-board discount, plus one $10-$15 specialty dish that represents what they’re about. We have a multitude of bars as well, and they’re all honoring a buy-two-get-one-drink-free special. At some locations it’s a mixed drink; at others it’s beer, and the wine bar is obviously doing wine. Cafes are all over the place, but you can see all of those promotions listed on the website.
We have one unique option, too, from Evergreen Ice Cream, which just opened, and that’s a $5 bottomless cup of ice cream all week long. You pay $5, and you can eat all the ice cream you want all day. If you eat ice cream all five days at his location, he’ll buy it back–he’ll give you a $25 coupon to come back and eat ice cream at your leisure.
We also partnered with Uber, a transportation app that was gracious enough to give us unlimited $30 coupons to go to and from Bushwick Restaurant Week. Just use the promotion code BUSHWICK. And if you like our Facebook page, you’re automatically entered to win a $200 gift certificate at Henry’s Wine Shop for any wine or spirit you like.
So is this the beginning of an annual thing?
Definitely! We want to make it an annual thing, and we’ve toyed with doing it every six months, once in the winter and once in the summer.
Any particular recommendations for people headed in from other neighborhoods?
Truly, we have such a multitude of great restaurants out here, it would be a travesty to not try them all. But there are 35 locations, and that’s more restaurants than you can probably go to for lunch and dinner all week.
Here’s a sampling: Mama Joy’s has been touted as having the best shrimp and grits in NYC. Verde Coal Oven has some of the pizza in north Brooklyn, in my opinion. Kanye West was just shooting a video at Brooklyn Fire Proof; they have a $5 brunch every week. Pine Box Rock Shop is one of the best bars around. If you’re into burgers, there is Burger It Up: They offer nine or 10 types of burgers. It’s a family-run establishment owned by a husband and wife. And if you like Vietnamese food, check out Falansai; it’s brand new, and the gentleman who owns it did time at the Slanted Door in San Francisco, a renowned Vietnamese food restaurant out there.
But seriously, check out the website for everyone involved.
Bushwick Restaurant Week runs today through Saturday night.