Carnem Is Serving Prime Steaks and Top-Notch Burgers in Park Slope


For Jacob Krumgalz, opening Carnem Prime Steakhouse (318 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-499-5600) was something of a homecoming. “I used to run a restaurant, Blue Planet Grill in the financial district, but the building got sold. I live near here myself, and David’s [DiSalvo, executive chef] family is from Park Slope — literally his wife grew up two blocks away! It feels right for us to be here.”

Carnem’s has a range of nicely marbled — and well-priced — USDA Prime Certified Angus steaks, from a gut-busting 32-ounce bone-in cowboy ribeye to a more modest 6-ounce tenderloin. “We buy it from Master Purveyors in the Bronx,” says Krumgalz. “It’s the only company certified to sell this beef in New York.”

Given that, the $90 porterhouse (perfect for sharing) is a stellar value. “I inspect all our meat,” DiSalvo notes. “I go into the dry-age room and make the selections, then we cut it in-house. My feeling is, nature made it perfect, so use a light touch. A little salt and pepper. It would be a crime to cover up the flavor of the beef.”

Honorable mention goes to the juicy burger, made with steak trimmings. “I’d never buy ground beef!” says DiSalvo, horrified at the thought. “I am vigilant about these ingredients. This is an all-natural program. And, because I’m dairy-intolerant myself, I’m conscious about food issues. We do a gluten-free pasta, gluten-free pancakes at brunch.”

Bringing a touch of whimsy to Carnem’s small-plate selection are cubes of pork belly wrapped in pink clouds of cotton candy, striking an incongruous but delightful note, the sweetness of the sugar glazing the pork in one memorable mouthful. “I love pork belly,” says DiSalvo. “We skin it, score it, brine it, and braise it, then we crisp it to order and spin it with cotton candy. It’s a dish inspired by Jose Andres’s Foie Gras Cotton Candy. But it’s a bit more familiar and accessible. It’s sweet, but in the way a tart glaze is sweet, not over the top. I think it really works.”

The bilevel restaurant design, mostly in purple and gold, stands out in a neighborhood of scrubbed-wood tables, natural design elements, and a penchant for mason jars. “I like how the colors stand out against the brick,” says Krumgalz. “It’s exactly to my taste.” A cascading light fixture leads down the steps to a light and breezy patio, open all day. “It’s great for brunch. Sitting out there with a glass of wine. Perfect.”