Salvatore Barretta always dreamed of opening a restaurant. After years of owning a construction company, he finally started making headway in his aspirations about a decade ago, with plans for a bar and restaurant in Soho. He was ready to pull the trigger on the project; all that was left was the liquor license. It didn’t get approved.
With his dreams crushed (and his wallet significantly lighter), Barretta gave up on his plan for a while. When he found out the owner of Brooklyn’s Downtown Ale House was looking to sell, he jumped at the opportunity to take over the place.
That was four years ago, and over time, Barretta turned the spot into a popular neighborhood meeting place. But he was forced to vacate the small eatery in July of this year. The building was bought out, and, as is so often the case in Brooklyn these days, it’s getting knocked down to make way for a luxury sky-rise. “The previous owners had multiple concepts in the space,” says manager Rosa Barretta, Salvatore’s daughter. “People would come in and talk about what it was like before, kind of like it was cursed. They’d say we came in and turned it around.”
Rather than walk away from the industry, the Barrettas decided to upgrade. They opened Brownstone Bar & Restaurant (277 Gold Street, Brooklyn; 917-909-1810) in mid October in a quiet, residential area of downtown Brooklyn. With New American fare, classic cocktails, and a large selection of craft beer, it’s aiming to become the area’s new favorite hangout. “The last restaurant was a lot smaller,” says Rosa. “It was more of a bar than anything. Here, we’re more of a restaurant.”
Marcos Bonola is behind the menu, and the eatery offers standard sports-bar grub (think chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and burgers) and higher-end steak and seafood options.
Appetizers include choices like Maryland crab cakes ($14) with red-pepper emulsion over an avocado and tomato salad; and Prince Edward Island mussels ($13) served in an IPA, apple, and fennel broth.
Entrees incorporate classic proteins with interesting sides. A skillet-roasted chicken comes with smoked gouda gratin potatoes, haricots verts, and tarragon chimichurri ($19). Pan-roasted duck breast is served over sauteed spinach and butternut squash risotto topped with Pinot Noir cranberry sauce ($24). Simple hanger steak ($26) is offered with garlic polenta fries and Cabernet sauce.
Desserts include options like banana walnut bread pudding with rum crunch gelato ($8), chocolate molten lava cake with cappuccino gelato ($9), and apple pear crumble with vanilla gelato ($9).
For drinks, the bar offers a small selection of classic cocktails for $12 apiece: Expect to see items like the Bee’s Knees (with thyme-infused vodka, lemon juice, and honey), the Paloma (Reposado tequila, Aperol, Grapefruit juice, and lime juice), and the Brownstone Sour (Bourbon, fresh sour, a Malbec float). In addition to dozens of beers by the bottle, there are 18 selections on draft, many of which are craft. Brownstone recently had options like Evil Twin Christmas Eve and Hop Showers by Other Half Brewing Co.
Every Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., the restaurant’s happy hour features $2 off all draft beer plus $5 house drinks and $5 house wines. And brunch is available on both Saturdays and Sundays.
For the Barrettas, it’s been an adjustment leaving their business and regular customers of four years; however, they’re excited for the change. “We still have some of our old customers stopping in every now and then,” says Rosa. “But we’re excited to see new faces and get to know new people.”
Brownstone Bar & Restaurant is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony, sponsored by Guinness, with the Brooklyn borough president on Monday, November 17, at 6 p.m. The eatery will be passing around samples of its menu items to celebrate.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.