Hopeland on Atlantic Avenue
Hello All --
Doing my Chowhound duty, reporting on a brand spanking new place. Last night was the first night of soft-open for Hopeland, which went into the old Jolie space on Atlantic. Normally I'm the kind of person who never goes into a place on its *first night* and then proceeds to trash it online. And I won't do that now. We found it the old fashioned way, by walking by it on the sidewalk. They've intentionally done very little PR work as yet, so as not to be overwhelmed at the beginning.
They did a minor reconfiguration of the space, making the bar area a little bit of a Bar. That's where we sat, so I can't really comment on the rest of the room or the back space. As is the case with all new places, it still smelled of new varnish. That's pretty much unavoidable and shouldn't be counted against them.
We weren't super hungry, so we just got a salad, a "small plate" and an entree. The kale salad with toasted pine nuts and avocado was delicious. If you've never had a good kale salad, it may change your mind about kale. For our "small plate" we had a grilled split Italian sausage with sauteed escarole and allegedly some fava beans. While I didn't see m/any fava beans (partially because this dish was in front of DGF, so I had to reach... it's possible they were there) there were lots of little bacon cubes. I guess I wasn't really in the mood for that kind of thing, because of the three it was my least favorite. There was too much pork/meat/fat/salt. For our main we had an incredibly tender and tasty skirt steak with "tossed" artichokes. This dish was both of our favorites. If there were any criticism, I would say they had a somewhat heavy hand with the salt. And I like salt. For dessert we got the ricotta cheese cake. It had a really nice hint of anise, and over all great flavor. I'm not sure how many traditional italian torti di ricotta I've ever had.... but it seemed a trifle dry to me.
The staff at the bar were cheerful, friendly and competent. Obviously since it was their first night there were some VERY minor service glitches. But over all, we had a really nice meal. They describe the cuisine as Southern Italian. The Small Plate section had about 15-20 dishes ranging from salads, to calamari, to pate (and grilled split sausage). They had maybe 16-20 mains as well, roughly half of which were pasta. Smalls ranged from 9-15 and mains ranged from maybe 15-25. The wine list tends to range a little on the high side, so that's something to factor in if you're going to have wine. So there are cheaper places to eat in the hood, but certainly far more expensive places too.
Considering it was their first night, they definitely hit the ground running. They'll compete well with Rucola, and they may even take some of my patronage from Bar Tabac as well. We'll definitely be back.
320 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201
This would have been a local spot for us so I went in wanting to like it but was disappointed on so many fronts. The service was very poor - slow, unknowledgeable of the menu and the wine list; the menu was more limited than I expected and seemed "pricey". After we received our food, however, that is where the extreme disappointment began! My husband ordered rabbit ($24) and it didn't come with ANY thing on the side (nothing!). It was a small piece of rabbit that was consumed within 8 bites! I had rigatoni pasta with tomato sauce - to find that the past was so al dente that the meal was not enjoyable. We felt we owed it to ourselves and the manager to express our disappointment and after doing so, the manager offered my husband and our friend (who also ordered the rabbit) a complimentary pasta to share, followed by an after dinner port. It was a nice gesture, but didn't nearly make up for the overall experience.
Bottom line, not worth the visit...unless they rethink their prices, their portions, and get knowledgeable wait staff on board.
Wife and I went last night, originally intending to go to Sottocasa but it was closed for a private party, so we gave the new place a shot. Unfortunately it was a pretty uneven experience. The place is nice, the staff and one of the owners (I forget his name, but he used to be affiliated with Broken English) were very friendly and accommodating, and they went above and beyond to try and make us happy which is something I RARELY see anymore outside of a fine dining experience. For a Friday night at around 7PM, the place was nearly full, which is always nice to see for a new restaurant, especially since they're off the main Court/Smith drag.
We started with the special 'small' dish, which they described as a deep dish pizza rustica with fresh ricotta, pecorino romano, parmagiano reggiano and layered with sopresatta with a small green salad on top. It sounded fantastic, but what came out was more like a mash-up of a quiche and a calzone in the shape of a slice of pie. The crust was hard and dry, the ricotta was tasty but the dish was not very hot, and the 'layered with sopresatta' really meant a few tiny cubes of the meat scattered about the cheese. The greens were tasty on the side, but overall the dish was not what we were expecting and wasn't worth $15.
For the main, I ordered the baccala which came with casseroles potatoes, plumb tomatoes and black olives. The dish fell completely flat for me, the baccala was very chewy and dry, I had a hard time discerning where the fish ended and the potatoes began because they had the same consistency. I couldn't find any tomatoes, and the black olives were actually kalamata (maybe they ran out of black?). I always feel bad sending back a dish, something I rarely do and avoid if possible, especially at a new place, and especially with a dish that the waiter basically said was their specialty.
My wife ordered the capunti pasta dish, which came in a red sauce with mussels and clams. The pasta was fantastic, the sauce had a nice brininess to it, and the shellfish was well cooked. There were far many more mussels than clams, but that said it was a very good dish.
When I sent back my baccala, I just asked them to bring me the same capunti dish, which they were happy to do and apologized for the fish and genuinely seemed to want to make me happy. The dish came out a few minutes later and was very tasty, although there was almost no sauce in it whatsoever, so I had to take what was left from my wife's bowl.
The owner we had spoken to earlier came over after we finished our mains and brought over 2 shots of limoncello and a dessert plate that had these little friend balls of dough, which were described to us like zeppoles and traditionally eaten around Christmas time. They had incredibly good intentions with this, but the dessert was very hard and just didn't taste good. I feel bad writing about a free dessert, especially when the waiter came over and said "did we make up for the fish or what?", but we just didn't enjoy it.
Perhaps they're still getting everything together, and maybe sometime later down the road we'll give them another shot.
320 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Ate there with my folks last night. I think this place has promise. We had a baked sardine appetizer (topped with breadcrumbs on a bed of al dente sliced potatos) and a fennel and orange salad both of which tasted fresh and authentic.
My mom had the fusilli with lemon and parmagiano, which I teased her about, as that's a dish we each make frequently at home. Nonetheless, Hopeland's version was with homemade pasta, and had a nice balance of flavors, so she enjoyed it. My dad likewise very much enjoyed his tagliatelle with mushrooms, although I didn't taste it. I had the rigatoni with tomato sauce -- I wrestled with that choice as it seemed lame to get something that I frequently make at home, but it's what I was in the mood for. It was fine, maybe a little light on the salt, but didn't blow me away.
For dessert, we had a "special" of tiny struffoli (fried dough balls topped with honey more typically served at Christmas). These were a very small version and as a result quite hard. The honey taste was nice, but I prefer my struffoli a little doughier.
Anyway, I wasn't floored, but I was pleased and satisfied, and will go back again.
Service was very straightforward and pleasant, if a bit anxious, which is typical for a new restaurant