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Jul 5, 2007 04:23 PM

Elementi on 7th Ave. (Spot where Snooky's was)

While walking around the Slope on July 3rd, we noticed that a new place had opened (without any fanfare whatsoever), in the spot where Snooky's long stood. It is called Elementi and had a very classy/elegant look.

The menu looked to be gourmet italian -- I got the impression that they were trying to be in the vein of Al Di La or Noodle Pudding, but I can't confirm that. At about 9.15 on the 3rd, there were a few tables filled up front, but it was certainly far from packed -- but that's not surprising given that it seemingly sprung up out of nowhere.

It looked nice enough and with an interesting enough of a menu to make me want to try it soon, but I figured I'd wait to see if it was written up here at all.

Anyone else notice this place and has anyone tried it or know anything about it?

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    1. The silence on Elementi has been deafening. The place is often empty, and there have virtually no chowhound posts on it....

      FWIW, I had lunch there once. Funny combination of good and eh. Their version of BLT (speck, arugula, tomatoes w/aioli) was delicious, but served on a thick fluffy roll. The owner noticed that I was leaving half the bread on the plate, though, and he came over to ask. I said the bread was too thick, and he said "Okay, thanks for the input. I was thinking of changing that."

      Overall, I was glad I tried it. But the food is not as good as it should be for the prices and the "fancy" decor.

      1. re: parkslopemama

        I think part of many Slopers' problem with Elementi is that it took over from the famed Snookys. That place was an institution, having been there for decades. But really, is it fair to take out the Snooky's demise on the place that is in the unfortunate position of being in the same spot? It is not as if the owners of Elementi shut Snooky's down. The market is as the market is -- Park Slope prices are out of control, and, presumably, Snookys' wasn't making the money to stay open.

        But where was all the support when Snooky's was nearing its end? Honestly, I never drank at Snookys, but did order from there on occasion. The food was decent -- pretty standard bar and grill fare -- nothing special or really memorable. Now I had only ordered from there during the past 7 years -- perhaps when it was still in its prime it was great...that I do not know.

        Perhaps the outcry (to the extent there has been) is more indicative of a displeasure of what Park Slope itself has become -- it has gone from a folksy, middle class, genteel neighborhood to an upscale, pretentious, a haven for yuppie ex-Manhattanites. (I myself have witnessed this during the 7+ years that I have lived here.) Perhaps that is just fine for 5th Avenue, which, as late as 2002, was kind of the edge of no-mans land, but for 7th avenue, long the stalwart thoroughfare of Park Slope, I guess it is unacceptable.

        Or maybe I am just romanticizing Snooky's and the change in Brooklyn too much. Maybe Elementi just isn't any good. I've never been, so I can't say.

        1. re: elecsheep9

 so happy i dont live near you.

          personally, i have no interest in supporting any new places unless i hear its good from a few sources. there are plenty of options that have become my standards in the neighborhood. 7th ave and garfield is like no man's land for nightlife.

          with tempo doing their prix fixe, al di la still rocking as usual and all of the other usual suspects, it seems a bit foolish for the owner (apparently a local) to try their luck on a new eatery without a focus on exceptional food...or a huge pr blitz.

          1. re: elecsheep9

            While I don't think you're romanticizing Snooky's, I do think that people's avoidance of Elementi has little to do with its location. I merely think we've hit saturation point in terms of pasta joints, particularly mediocre ones. There's Tutta Pasta, Two Boots (definitely NOT a mediocre joint), Second St. Cafe, Sotto Voce and that new place down near Ninth St. Plus, there's La Villa and Al di La (most certainly NOT mediocre) down on Fifth Ave.

            What marketing genius came up with the idea for yet another pasta joint?

            1. re: famdoc

              I have to agree, it's a niche filled long ago so why bother?
              The only way to attract attention is to have good cheap food,
              or spectacular expensive food
              not okaaay expensive food
              (not that I've tried Elementi, but it would take something more than the mere opening of such a place to get me in the door and I eat out pretty often)

              To compare, on the new restaurant thing, I immediately became a regular at Sheep Station because of their perfect lamb chops and perfect lamb sandwich. Where else would I get that?
              Similarly, I go to Fish Camp occasionally, because that cod sandwich is great.

              I'm still hoping for a really good Ethiopian restaurant...

            2. re: elecsheep9

              Did Snooky's deserve support? In 20 years in the neighborhood I never went in there, and I live around the corner. Who were the customers? I can live without a sports bar with Buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks and misspelled specials. I may have gone there to drink once or twice when I was 18 (when it was legal).

              1. re: Peter Cherches

                this is a great food thread (:-)) - I mean none of the posters (including me) have been to the place and unless Im reading too fast, most didnt go to Snooky's either (I certainly never saw any reason to in 25+ yrs), and truthfully dont see what the issue is. The Seventh Ave Center Slope restaurant scene, like its clothes shopping scene has always been uninteresting - I cant think of a place along there that has seriously tempted me in a long time except for Mr. Falafel which is barely a restaurant. Many of these restaurants had long leases (Snooky's, Tonio's Carriage House etc) date from pre-gentrification Park Slope, from a time when chic restaurants really werent finding an audience. These are filling stations, take out joints and watering holes, like those on the UES avenues and have never pretended to be more. They have their audience of non-chowhoundish eaters - I dont see that any chowhound should feel compelled to visit places that we know in our heart to be mediocre - having said that, tho, I was dragged kicking and screaming to Tutta Pasta for a function last spring and it was fairly good, better than I expected, certainly better than any basic Italian place outside NYC would be.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Great thread. There was a time, honestly, when Snookys was the plush countryclub newcomer to a nabe filled with hard corner bars like Rattigans, and where most eating was done at home, except for the occasional Chinese, pizza, or coffee shop like Purity (now there's another story). I confess that even as a native, Snookys was a place for a bite with the folks just every so often, nothing more. Whatever happens to Elementi, and it appears they've not been astute marketers, it does seem odd that a comfortable, unpretentious, value-priced cafe (not a slacker lounge or) does not seem to be able to find a clientele. Or are costs that high?

                  1. re: obob96

                    I started drinking in Park Slope when I was 18, in 1974. Rattigans must have been gone by then (or not center slope). I remember Iron Horse (empty for years now), Minsky's (now Miracle Grill), City Lights (real estate office, formerly Tai's bodega), The Coach (is that now part of D'Vine Taste?) and The Gaslight (Is that now the Japanese place next to Mr. Wonton?).

                    1. re: Peter Cherches

                      I was 18 in the Slope in 1966, and Rattigans was on the SW corner of Garfield and 7th, gone by 1974. There were others all along the avenue south, whose names I forget; Pete Hamill's A Drinking Life gives a brilliant portrait of this old Slope saloon world. Even more iconic was the Palm Pines on Union St., where Camperdown and later McFeely's were later: a very tough neon goodfellas spot.

                      1. re: Peter Cherches

                        Though it closed before I arrived in the neighborhood, City Lights was located at the corner of 1st street, where Artesana furniture store is currently located, which was previously a fish store and a fruit store before that. The Gaslight is where Mr. Wonton is currently located and not next door. Anyone else recall when they use to serve Mexican food out of the back of the Gaslight. My recollection is of eating at some picnic tables on the sidewalk and this being, maybe, the only option for Mexican in the area. I also remember being in the Coach Inn the day the Knicks won the draft lottery which gave them the rights to Patrick Ewing. Even though I was nowhere near of legal drinking age at the time, I sure seemed to have spent my fair share of time in the local drinking establishments during the 80's.

                        1. re: offtheeatenpath

                          I know this is an old thread, but wow. The place in the back f the Gaslight was called el Gringo. I worked there as a prep cook in 86-87. The gaslight was on the corner, and was sold to the chinese restaurant that replaced it.

          2. I guess this is moving towards a "Snooky's should never have..." or even "I remember when Park Slope was..." I have lived in the Slope for 30+ years. The assumption that there were never any great restaurants and only watering holes is just wrong. Snooky's back in its day was a fine restaurant with a decent menu and a great salad bar. Nothing could beat the freshness of their greens and the homemade croutons. It was family friendly as well. As was Minsky's, Ding's, Villa Roma, Tonio's, etc., Then, around 10+ years ago (maybe more) Snooky's started going downhill. The quality suffered. You could see the marks on the meat where the jockey beat the horse. I tend to agree with Famdoc, people are sick of pasta joints. Sette sucks, Tutta Pasta is positively caustic and even Tempo isn't as great as it first was. This leaves Al Di La and Frankie's 457 (I know, they're on Court Street) and even Aunt Suzie's for the die hard old timers.
            As far as "real Chowhounders" avoiding mediocre places: I have to say that I've seen positive reviews for places that have befuddled me. I figure they either received a rave review because it's hip, or the people giving it rave reviews are nuts. I guess when you get down to it the only original place in Park Slope that has been consistent in food that is good for the price is 7th Avenue Donuts. After all who can resist a Virginia ham platter and their fantastic donuts for less than $7?

            I will eat Elementi soon. Elementi, if it's good will get the recognition it deserves by the patrons.

            30 Replies
            1. re: bigmackdaddy

              I haven't lived in the Slope for the past 30+ years, but my wife and I did buy our coop on 5th and PPW about 20 years ago (2/88). Before then we lived in Clinton Hill for about 8 years, and we used to head over to the Slope frequently for victuals and libations.

              I remember the Snooky's that did have the salad bar and that was crowded all the time, and I fondly remember Minsky's (corner of 7th Avenue and 3rd, where Miracle Grill now sits). In those years we used to go to Snookly's for dinner, especially on weekends. If memory serves, I did enjoy my meals at Snooky's but I never confused it with a great restaurant. Same for Minsky's. They were terrific neighborhood places that served up good food at decent prices and as a result were crowded all the time. (Then the rents went up...)

              My wife and I used to go to Snooky's after we moved to the Slope, mostly for brunch. We had been going there often enough for the staff to know us and that sometimes made a difference. On occasion, if we had a day off together, we sometimes would wander in for a weekday lunch, which we always enjoyed. We liked the laid-back atmosphere and the opportunity to linger, eat slowly, read the paper.

              But, honestly, in the past five years or more, we never went in. Nothing conscious about this decision, just that other places came along in the Slope that caught our interest more. Snooky's quit appearing on our radar. We didn't toss it off.

              It seems to me that restaurant owners in the Slope now have the choice of paying the landlord or paying for a quality executive chef. Most pay the landlord, and hire whatever food talent they can afford, or so it seems to me.

              OTOH, the places that regularly get slammed on Chowhound seem to get along, if not prosper. I remember when Tutta Pasa opened. I thought they wouldn't last more than a year, two at most. What did I know?

              Dining in the Slope continues to be a puzzlement...

              1. re: BrookBoy

                What was Minsky's after it was Minsky's? I first moved to the slope 21 years ago and remember eating on the terrace of that restaurant and sort of enjoying the food. Just don't remember what it was called. Maybe BrookBoy, with his great memory, can recall.

                1. re: famdoc

                  For a short time, wasn't it called Third Street Bar and Grill? Or was that even before Minsky's...(I've lived in the Slope area since '74 or so)....

                  In those days, when you wanted a special meal in the Slope, you went to Charlie's on Flatbush Ave...or Camperdown Elm on Union (that may have been a few years later...)

                  1. re: jinx

                    I remember Charlie's. There was also the original Garden at 399 or 397 Flatbush Ave.

                    1. re: jinx

                      Minsky's became Rex for many years. It was run by the Malaysian-Chinese family that owned Fuji San, and the son is the owner of the dreaded Lemongrass Grill chain. Before the location became Miracle Grill it had I think three bad incarnations after Rex, run by the Lemongrass son: Vietnamese, Malaysian, Peruvian.

                      Charlie's is now Blockbuster Video. Was it Michel's before or after Charlie's?

                      Camperdown Elm either had the same owner or got their chef from Maxwell's Plum in Manhattan.

                      1. re: jinx

                        Minsky's was a neighborhood place that sat on the corner of 3rd and 7th Avenue, where Miracle Grill is now located. As I recall, it was casual, had entertainment, at least on the weekends, and drew good crowds. I think it was supposed to be a knockoff of the original Minsky's, famous, I think, as a Burlesque house many years ago. In any event, it was a lot of fun, and you could get a decent burger there.

                        I think the current owners (reputed to also own Fuji-San, a few blocks to the north) bought out Minsky's and soon thereafter closed it down, in order to open their own place, which I cannot remember. I do remember, though, that it was the first of a number of places that followed Minsky's (including Nam), none of which ever proved as popular as Minsky's.

                        I don't remember Third Street Bar and Grill, so maybe that was from an earlier time, or maybe I just don't remember it.

                        In the 80s and 90s, Seventh Avenue was quite a bit different in terms of bars and restaurants. There was a bar called Ryan's (shot and a beer joint) where Appletree now resides. There was another, slightly more upscale place called the Coach, where D'Vine Taste now sits (I think). The Coach served up a pretty good hamburger and was an alternative to Snooky's. My wife and I watched that marathon playoff game between the Mets and the Houston Astros in 1986 in The Coach, who let the patrons stay on until the game was finished.

                        Mooney's pub, now on Flatbush, was located at 99 Seventh Avenue in those days. They moved to Flatbush sometime around 1987.

                        I don't remember Camperdown Elm, either, but thank you for jogging my memory of Charlie's, on Flatbush where Blockbuster is now. Charlie's was a big and sprawling place that my wife and I really liked. I remember stopping in Charlie's for a cold beer after having been at one of the Slope street fairs on a very hot day, and we said hello to Joe Hynes, who was not yet the Brooklyn District Attorney, but who was well known. He was just beginning his first campaign for District Attorney. We saw him in Charlie's on several occasions after that.

                        Another place we liked and visited frequently was McFeeley's, a steak joint at 847 Union, just off 7th Avenue. They did pretty well for a while and then declined in both service and quality. Hard to say why.

                        Another interesting spot was Raintree's, an inviting place on the corner of Prospect Park West and 9th Street (the south side), directly across from the park. Raintree's was a beautiful place, but the food was downright bad, so they never drew a crowd. There's a condo there now.

                        Thanks for the memories, folks...

                        1. re: BrookBoy

                          Thanks for the stories guys. As I said, i've been in the Slope since 2000, so I have seen the recent changes -- especially to Fifth Avenue, but its great to hear about what the nabe was like before I moved in.

                          KEEP 'EM COMING!

                          1. re: BrookBoy

                            Rex....I remember eating there on several occasions around 1988-89.
                            Wasn't bad.

                            Raintree's...yes, pleasant setting. Decent brunch. Otherwise a disaster.

                            Remember a French place (name was a woman's name) in the space now occupied by Applewood (even before it was a private party space and a bar). Quite good, by all standards. Then, suddenly, shuttered, apparently because owner owed someone alot of $$.

                            Also, remember a French joint on Flatbush, called Bistro La Marsaillaise. Also respectable food, but must have been 15,000 square feet of space, always looked empty. Also shuttered suddenly after a year or so.

                            Ah...the good old days...when we went to Manhattan for good food.

                            1. re: famdoc

                              La Marseillaise was, I believe, the last restaurant to inhabit the Charlie's space before it became Blockbuster.

                              1. re: Peter Cherches

                                Yes, La Marseillaise was the last place before blockbuster. It was great when it first opened but then the quality declined ( probably due to lack of clientele) before they shut their doors.

                                That place was way ahead of it's time--authentic quality french food in a place run by french people. If it were on 5th ave (or even 7th, or even in the same place on flatbush) today it would be packed.

                              2. re: famdoc

                                yup - we greatly enjoyed our meals at that place - but the Park Slopers never believed it possible.

                                1. re: famdoc

                                  Bringing this back because while out to dinner last night a friend brought up that french place that was where Applewood is--it was called Adele's.

                                  Also, before Charlie's was Charlie's, it was Michel's... (or was that after??)

                                  1. re: jinx

                                    I've been trying to recall the name of that joint. It was actually quite good, by Park Slope standards. But, the owner got into some financial troubles and closed abruptly. It was then just used for private functions (I rented it for an anniversary party about 15 years ago). For awhile, it was Yak Yak or whatever that bar was called.

                                    And how about the place at the corner of 9th and PPW: Raintree's....nothing special, but good location and decent brunch.
                                    Didn't Charlie own it?

                              3. re: jinx

                                I think it was Third Street etc (we arrived post-MInsky's )- I remember a truly mediocre brunch there - the kind that comes garnished with a piece of curly kale leaf and an orange slice.

                                When my contingent (gentrifiers) arrived, there seemed to be a prevailing view that only good dining was to be had in Manhattan - it took many years before fine dining places got support.

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  does anyone remember villa julia where tuta pasta is now?

                                  1. re: parkerbk

                                    villa julia...sounds familiar..vaguely recall it....

                                    Thanks for the reminder about Raintree's, yes we'd eat there often, if only for the setting right on the park. Brunch wasn't bad. I think he tried to open a sidewalk cafe, was refused, and then shut down. That doesn't seem that long ago (to me!)

                                    I can't believe none of you recall Camperdown Elm. That was a lovely place, I remember my parents taking me there for my birthday when I first moved to the Slope, in college. Then it was McFeeley's for a long time, until J.T. McFeely opened Santa Fe and kinda lost interest in the original place. I don't imagine he's still involved with Santa Fe (and hard to believe that's been here as long as it has.)

                                    But coming back around to the original gist of the thread--Amazingly Snooky's stood fast through ALL these changes, it was a survivor, and the last of an era, so in that sense its sad to see it go, even though I hadn't eaten there in 20 years. And isn't anyone going to at least try Elementi, LOL?

                                    1. re: jinx

                                      I'm tempted to suggest a Chowhound naysayers' dinner there.
                                      We'll all eat our words when we find it to be magnificent.

                                      1. re: jinx

                                        McFeeley's went downhill because they fired the maitre'd, a gentleman named Tony who a lot of the regulars loved, and later boycotted the place, and because they changed the menu a few times and because they chased a ton of the regulars out.

                                      2. re: parkerbk

                                        Yes I do. I might have called it Villa Roma by mistake. I went to junior high school with the owner's grandkids. He was a big guy, 60's , bald, real intimidating. I loved the place.

                                        1. re: bigmackdaddy

                                          I believe it was Villa Giulia.

                                          For years I was a fan of the Oasis, a middle eastern place, then after it closed one of the owners/brothers opened up Who's on Seventh, which was a mediocre health food place. Anybody remember the really hippieish health food place in the '70s? I think it was called The Gazebo.

                                          If I remember correctly, in the '70s Smiling Pizza actually had good pizza.

                                          1. re: Peter Cherches

                                            How things have changed. I remember when Smiling was the man and Pino's was considered dog food. Now, people clamor for Pino's and La Forchetta their sister store. Well one thing hasn't changed. You can still get a decent rib eye at 7th Ave Donuts for around $9.

                                            1. re: Peter Cherches

                                              Ha, the Gazebo was the FIRST place I ate at in Pk Slope, summer of 80 before i moved here from college upstate. IT was bright green w/ white lattice, and i had brown rice w/ veggies and melted cheese and thought it was great (I was 21 and smoked a lot of weed then...). Now it's Cousin John's bakery. Another , and much better, health food place was at 7th Ave and 9th St, it was our favorite throughout the early/mid 80s, but I've forgotten the name. Lots of dishes in a great tempura w/ lovely rich sauces and rice. Then it too was gone of course. And what about the Slope's first foray into yuppie/foodie chow, "Le Parc Gourmet" at Carroll and 7th, now Thai, where Kelly McGillis of all people once waitressed!!

                                              1. re: bklynbiker

                                                I'm feeling older with each post to this thread--as in, when "gourmet" meant a place that had lots of jars of mustards. Durels, bet Garfield and Carroll, and Herzogs, on the NW corner of Third and 7th were two examples (both now gone) from my 50s-60s-early70s Slope boyhood. But then again, we usually ate from Italian Fifth Avenue, loaded as it was with bakeries, pork stores, laticcini, butchers, and greengrocers; 7th avenue was only really useful for Ebingers.

                                                1. re: obob96

                                                  Sheeeeet, Herzog's wasn't gourmet, they were downright delicious and deadly. We lived right behind them. We could always tell when they fried chicken came out. I remember Durel's. They were great. I used to work for Bellamellio's on 1st and 7th Ave.

                                                  1. re: bigmackdaddy

                                                    Way back when from my vantage point of Union and Fifth, any place that sold imported German pickles was considered exotic and maybe even gourmet.

                                                    1. re: obob96

                                                      Did Herzog's sell those? I remember them being a Merit Farms type pf place, except a lot better. Granted I was only a kid when they were around and i stuck with their sandwiches, knishwiches and fried chicken.

                                                2. re: bklynbiker

                                                  anyone remember the big cheese, heinzerling and christophers?

                                                    1. re: bigmackdaddy

                                                      I remember that other health food place--with the tempuras--but can't recall the name either. But I also remember the original Circles on 7th Ave...which served all kinds of great health-foody type sandwiches in pita bread, lots of sprouts is what I recall. Well, it was great to a 20 year old, at the time :) and cheap! Nothing like what Circles became later. Not even sure if it was the same owners, but the logo stayed the same.

                                                      1. re: jinx

                                                        AHA! Our Daily Bread, that was the name. Now, that was 'eatin in the 80s... OK I"m not sure chicken in tempura w/ jarsburg cheese sauce is especially heathy (!), but they did serve brown rice, and it all tasted damned good!

                                2. anybody check timeout this week? they gave elementi 5 of 6 stars...pretty much raved about it.

                                  i walked by last night from the train and saw they posted it right on the door...

                                  they called it the best thing to happen since al di la.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: sam1

                                    One of the more unconvincing rave reviews I've read, actually.

                                    1. re: sam1

                                      I went last night and, although they still have some kinks to work out, when they are on the food is as good as anything being served in Park Slope right now (lamb chop special was superb). The arrogance of posters who blast places they've never been to never ceases to amaze.

                                    2. I hear they're not long for this hood which is fine by me. I'd rather see a good Indian place finally come in to replace this strange, cheesey 70's looking establishment. We got plenty of good Ital already that are far better than this ppace which is cleary out of step with the hood.

                                      1. This is the first time on this board. I'm surprised to hear that Snooky's closed. I've been there only a few times, but the food was great! Prices was not that bad, and for me it was only the traffic nad parking that was the down side for my family and me. Another thing that was a shock me was that Melrose Glatt Kosher on Brighton Beach
                                        Ave is closed. I went passed it today to pick up dinner and saw the gate rolled down and STORE FOR RENT sign on the gate. I really hope it just moved and not closed down.