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Good eats in/near Dyker Heights Holiday lights

Hey all,

I am planning a trip to see the holiday lights in Dyker Heights with some friends. We are all Brooklyn ladies (Park Slope, Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn) but we aren't familiar with the area. Any suggestions for some good food in the area (Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, etc?). Any type of food is fine, preferably on the cheaper side.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Park slope, Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn still count as Brooklyn these days?


    It depends on whether you want to keep the theme or try the changing flavors of the area. I grew up around there so to this day it's still a bit of a shock that I can now get awesome Sichuan food on the same block I used to go for my Italian groceries, but that's life.

    If you're keeping the theme then there's Gino's Foccaceria which is on 18th Avenue and is probably your most convenient Italian option. Their panelle are good, but their milza has absolutely nothing on even the lowliest of carts in Palermo so I'd pass on it. All in all you can look at what they have in the counter and order. Try to stick to Sicilian specialties.

    Alternatively you could drive about 15 minutes to Joe's of Avenue U who does most of these Sicilian specialties better even though pretty much the entire staff seems to be Russian nowadays (Villabate had a Russian phase like that, but they reverted out of nowhere.) Joe's is further down 86th St and then down Avenue U, but it's an easy drive. Joe's is also pretty much the last place in Brooklyn with good pasta chi sardi (though my last meal there was over 2 years ago.)

    Also down that way is L&B Spumoni Gardens which is a neighborhood institution. If you go to this place at 1am on a Saturday night in the summer it looks more like a club or an outdoor drinking session in an Italian piazza than a pizzeria, but it's a different story in the winter. Solid pizza which is unique to the restaurant and which generally needs to be smothered in Parmesan cheese. Really cheap! The spumoni there is also excellent if you're not too cold already. They open up the indoor seating for the winter.

    Finally the trend setter for the area would be Bamboo Pavilion or Spicy Bamba. It was covered on here and then appeared in the Voice (as always happens, though back then they wouldn't take CH'ers personal photographs when they did that.) The pork chops with cumin (ziran) and crabs with chili are two of my favorite dishes here. Aside from those it's really hard to go wrong as almost all of their Sichuan dishes are excellent. I honestly think this place is in contention for best Sichuan restaurant in NYC, but I hardly ever get to eat there anymore. Their deals on hotpot are also really good; cheaper than Flushing if you do it right.

    No matter where you end up you are pretty much obligated by get pastries from Villabate on 18th Avenue near Bamboo Pavilion.

    Joe's of Avenue U
    287 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11223

    L&B Spumoni Gardens
    2725 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11223

    13 Replies
    1. re: JFores

      I find myself correcting people on this a lot but Joe's of Ave U Focacceria Palermitana is owned AND operated by Sicilians. The Lo Verde family as a matter of fact. I'm a first generation Sicilian from Bensonhurst who's entire family hails from Sciacca so maybe your just not understanding dialects. The food is out of this world and ten times better then Gino's, although the tripe there is done very well. Cat Pop, their are so many options for Italian food in the area, especially Europa Ristorante on 20th Ave and 65th St, a wonderful restaurant with brick oven pizza and Sicilian specialties. Same goes for Il Colosseo on 18th ave and 78th st. A newcomer to the neighborhood that I just love, is Bella Sicilia, located on Bath Ave btwn 16th and 17th aves. Have a great time seeing the lights! Ciao!

      Il Colosseo
      7704 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214

      Bella Sicilia
      1647 Bath Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214

      1. re: joeyBK

        I'm 2nd gen with my whole family being from Naro and Castrofillipo and I've got pretty good conversational Sicilianu (I can barely speak regular Italian.) The issue's not them speaking it or not. They definitely had a few Russian girls for a while. The last time I ate there (admittedly about 2-3 years ago) most of the staff members I saw were Russian and they were speaking Russian to each other. Maybe it reverted back? Villabate did the exact same thing for a while and out of nowhere they switched back to local girls from the area (if those still exist outside of Staten Island and East Meadow.) I guess there's only so many times a customer can repeat the word sfogliatelle to a confused employee.....

        How's Bella Sicilia? I drove past it a few months ago but I didn't give it much thought. Same goes for Il Colosseo. It gave off vibes of being an almost members only coffee place so I've never gone inside.

        Il Colosseo
        7704 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214

        Bella Sicilia
        1647 Bath Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214

        1. re: JFores

          Absolutely, it reverted back about 2 yrs ago. As for Il Colosseo, I think you might be confusing it with a similar storefront on the same block, Caffe' Sorrento, they both have the same owner and exact same exterior design. The speciale del Colosseo pizza is delicious. The snapper is done very well there too.

          1. re: joeyBK

            I might be confusing it with the Figlie di Ragusa social club or one of the other social clubs on the block, but I think I remember the sign.

            Do you know of a place in the area where I can get really good pasta anciova, sardi a beccafico or milza? I generally don't even bother in NYC, but one can hope.

            On a less food related note... does Il Colosseo or any other other 50/50 coffee-restaurant establishments on 18th Ave still show Palermo matches live? As much as I love battling for a stream or hoping that FSN will actually show a match instead of a Man U repeat from 2008....

            I'm really never in that area anymore. I feel so disconnected.

            Ah! Edit! I was confusing it with Cafe Sorrento! The signage is the same collar and the same sort of bubbly font! I think...

            Il Colosseo
            7704 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214

            1. re: JFores

              Yup there you go you got it! The caffe's show Palermo, Catania, and pretty much all the Serie A games on the weekends. Champions League games too. Great atmosphere too, you'd think it was the World Cup all year round in some of those places! haha...

              1. re: joeyBK

                Thanks a lot. I think I'll head over for the next live Palermo match. Catana? Eh... I could do without watching that club... ;)

                To Steve R's below I'm guessing it was just that. Running the restaurant probably became more of a business business than a family business and the neighborhood was heavily in flux. Maybe they felt like they let down their customer base when they realized it was drying up and then they redoubled their efforts. There were a few years when I genuinely felt like the entire Italian community from Dyker down to Sheepshead was about 15 minutes away from deciding to move to Staten Island, Long Island or Jersey. I think that's calmed down a bit now (and the people I know who moved to SI are generally VERY disillusioned with the choice, LI and Jersey less so) and that might be why businesses are starting to feel a bit more permanent again.

                1. re: JFores

                  it would simply KILL me if they all moved away and I think the whole region would suffer if they did.

                  1. re: JFores

                    'that might be why businesses are starting to feel a bit more permanent again.' ... Hope you're right about that.

                    My (since a baby) "goomba" lives right on 84th between 12th and 13th. His son moved to Manhasset, but both daughters decided to stay in Brooklyn close to home. I have very fond memories of your old nabe, JFores ... and I would hate to see it go.

              2. re: joeyBK

                "Absolutely, it reverted back about 2 yrs ago"

                I had given up on Joes of Ave U for several years and recommended many to stay away. Until I went back on a whim a year or so ago. Still steam table (always was) but everything was freshly made, the place had been spiffed up (in a good way) and it was clear that the family was taking pride in it again. We loved the food and have been happily recommending it again. Anyone have any idea what happened during those "dark years"?

          2. re: JFores

            I vote Italian. All of the suggestions above would be great.

            1. re: JFores

              First: I heart you JFlores ... just for the first line.

              Second, I only ever do hotpot at home, so what do you mean by doing it right? Help, please. I've been meaning to take my friends to one.

              1. re: funniduck

                Their hot pot menu is really extensive. Little quail eggs and everything. Also they do deals where you can order as much as you want for a certain amount per person that make hot poting an actual viable choice if you really want to have a huge meal. You can bring bottles of spirits there too so if you want to bring a couple liters of baijiu you can drag yourselves out on hands and knees when it's all over.

                By doing it right I specifically meant ordering one of their order as much as you want things.

              2. re: JFores

                It is probably not better than Bamboo Pavilion (haven't been there, but heard good things universally), but Grand Sichuan House at 87th and 5th is also excellent Sichuan and may be more conveniently located if you're coming into Dyker Heights from the Bay Ridge/R Train side rather than the Bensonhurst D Train side. We ended up there after our visit last year (on Christmas Eve, no less) and had a great meal.

                Grand Sichuan House
                8701 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

              3. How about Tanoreen? It's a bit of a hike - 3rd Ave. and 77th/78th Sts. But the price point is good (BYOB, I believe) and it consistently gets ranked best Middle Eastern food in the city. My boyfriend and I enjoyed it one night when we went to go see the lights!

                Enjoy the show!!

                7523 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                2 Replies
                1. re: ShanDeez

                  Another idea on the Arab stream of thought is that if you guys are driving you could grab shawarma from Karam by 86th and 4th and eat those while you drive around. Then you'd go to one of the other places afterward. Depends on how much you can eat really.

                  8519 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                  1. re: ShanDeez

                    unfortunately, tanoreen is no longer byob ... they have a full bar now. but the food is still mighty good!

                  2. Try Mama Rao's on 11th Avenue between 64th & 65th Sts. Excellent food and very close to the dyker heights Christmas lights.

                    Mama Rao's
                    6408 11th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11219

                    1. THere are some great places within a few blocks o the lights. A nice place for baked goods and a light meal is Caffe Mona Lisa at 1476 86th Street. On the same block is the restaurant D a Tommosa - very well known. I've been by there many times but have not had a chance to eat there, but friends who have eatened there have praised it highly. You're within a few minutes' walk from the main blocks of the Lights.

                      I also like Krispy Pizza down on 13th Avenue - they've got lots more than pizza - a very nice selection of appetizers and good soups on a cold Holiday Lights night!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: noshwalks

                        Krispy's kind of distinctly average. For an area that's still that Italian (the 14th Ave and up portion into Dyker at least) the pizza situation is DIRE.

                        1. re: JFores

                          I suggest trying Rosa's on 77th and 13th.

                          1. re: Jburns831

                            Lived 4 blocks from it. Never liked it. Il Forno was somewhat acceptable if it was eaten screamingly hot, but the pizza situation in the area (despite it still being overwhelmingly Italian) is terrible.

                            1. re: Jburns831

                              Never really gets too much pub but Vittorio's on 75th and 18th makes some great pies.

                        2. I have had a friend tell me very nice things about the Greek place Mezze at 13th Avenue and 66th Street.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mike1213

                            For Greek food, the Spartan Cafe on 69th and 8th is as good or better and more reasonable

                          2. Does anyone know what time the lights go on at night?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pollam20

                              Probably around dusk. If you come at 6, I'm sure they'll be on.
                              Some other Italian suggestions if you want to venture into Bay Ridge.
                              Piattini, 9824 Fourth Avenue, great Sicilian and know for its gelato
                              Zio Toto, 6407 Third Avenue, owned by young Italians, good pizza, pasta. Across the street is Areo's, good food and a bit of a scene place which is a few doors away from Sofia's, also decent. Probably the most popular Italian is Gino's on 5th Avenue off 75th St. Always jammed.
                              If you want Greek, Elia on 3rd Avenue off 86th Street has some of the best grilled fish in the city. Greek salad is wonderful as well. If you want to bring home some food to cook, Faicco's on 11th off 65th Street has the best home-made sausage in the city. You can stock up on cheeses, mozzarella, peppers...try their rice balls. B&A Pork Store on 13th Avenue in the 70's is closer to the lights and very good as well. For bread, Royal Crown on 14th Avenue off 65th and its sister store Paneantico on 3rd Avenue in the 90's is the best.

                              8424 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                              6511 11th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11219

                              9124 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                              B&A Pork Store
                              7818 13th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11228

                              9824 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                              Zio Toto
                              8407 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209