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Apr 11, 2013 10:51 AM

What happened to Moutard? (Park Slope)

Closed before the holidays at the end of last year.

Did they skip?

(Did you know they filmed a scene from Julia and Julie there?)

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    1. re: Bob Martinez

      Got to say this, at risk of being too off topic, because I don't get very many chances to: This location, when I was growing up on Union Street in the 50s and 60s, was the Fischetti Funeral Home, where great uncle Ferdinando and more than a few neighbors and relatives were waked. I always wondered what ghosts might haunt the basement. Over the years, have eaten there pleasantly if not memorably, but it had a good run. How does Michael Ayoub's tenure there relate, if at all, to its success, or failure? Le Pain: predictable but still not completely desirable replacement.

      1. re: bob96

        so Bob, maybe Ive asked before, many years ago, but did you know where that excellent Sicilian baker (who used to be in the former Cucina space) went after he left the neighborxhood? Probably many years too late to ask - I had thought it was Kings Hway, and there is a good bakery there, but I was never sure

        Also, I remember the fruit and veg man on that block and how good and cheap his stuff was- I think he used to have a cart but it was before my time in the neighborhood.

        1. re: jen kalb


          We were family friends with the Louis Guarino family, who lived on Garfield Place (and across from us on Union) , and whose name the bakery carried, and who sold to the Sicilian baker who changed the name, I believe, to "Carroll Street Bakery." We'd moved up the Slope by that point. Both places made terrific bread--heading to Guarino's on a Sunday morning for a seeded long loaf was always a treat. I have no idea what happened to the panificio Siciliano. The fruit and veg guy on the corner was I think Frank, and he was one of many. That whole stretch of 5th Ave back when I was growing up, until the early 70s, from Union to 3rd, was Little Italy--3 salumerie, 2 latticini, 3 bread bakeries, 2 pasticcerie (one of them La Rinascente, where Al di La now is), a good butcher (Pepitone), a great fish store on Lincoln Place, small supermarkets, plus the usual array of candy stores, jewelers, pharmacies, hardware stores, card shops, "haberdashers" and barber shops. This was even before Tony Schicchitano had launched his A&S Pork Store empire. And there's stilla n old doorfront on 5th near MOutarde that was the local "SAC" or "Social & Athletic Club", where local wiseguys took bets and sat on kitchen chairs watching the street. Loved it all.

          1. re: bob96

            I used to love going to that bakery for their custy bread, still warm out of the oven, back in the pre-Cucina days and still miss it.

    2. Bob, can you share any other information?

      23 Replies
      1. re: jonfbrooklyn

        They had a good long run. Big enthusiastic crowds at first, then business began to tail off. I always liked the food but then, I'd always order the same things - steak frites and and endive salad. They were terrific.

        Over time there were some reports of the food quality declining but they were balanced out by others saying it was fine. Maybe the food did decline, maybe people just got bored and moved on to new places.

        About 3 years ago they went through a major makeover. They brightened up the interior and simplified the menu, removing some mains and adding some additional small plates items. To me the changes didn't work - I didn't like the new decorating scheme and when I tried the steak frites it wasn't as good. (I suspect there was some cost cutting on the quality of the steak.) The new small plates choices didn't appeal to me.

        The revamped place did good business for awhile and then business again tailed off. You could see the handwriting on the wall when they reduced their business hours to weekends only. Three or four months later they closed for good.

        Too bad.

        1. re: Bob Martinez

          That's too bad. It was a decent place. Recently I too noticed it had shuttered.

          It's worth noting there still is, for my money, even better French bistro fare in Windsor Terrace at Le P'tit Paris.

            1. re: Bob Martinez

              If you liked Moutard, I think you'll really dig it. I used to spend a lot of time there, owing to convenience and quality. It's run by a couple of French industry professionals. Nice people, accommodating.

              Menu highlights include steak frites, onion soup, the charcuterie plate, escargots, coq au vin and the steak au poivre. The wine list is modest but pleasant. Unfortunately, they stopped pouring the French lager 1664, which isn't all that great but made good sense in the context of a French bistro; they replaced it with American crap on draft.

              1. re: guanubian

                Isn't 1664 the french equivalent of american crap on tap? Bland watery stuff.

                1. re: Bkeats

                  More or less, which I intimated, but it fits the French Bistro context better than Blue Moon.

                  1. re: guanubian

                    I remember sitting in a little cafe in Les Halles at 7:00 in the morning. I was drinking a coffee and all the local merchants were in having a breakfast of eggs and sausage and drinking glass after glass of 1664. Who needs a caffeine buzz in the morning when you can get a beer buzz?

        2. re: jonfbrooklyn

          If you mean about what happened to Moutarde or what might become of its space, afraid not. About that street in my day, sure; be glad to. Rarely get that way any more (living so far afield in Manhattan) but having grown up and lived through the first stages of the neighborhood's transformation, I still feel some ghosts walking around. What strikes me most, of course, is the almost total absence of ordinary food stores, and how even the original remaining outpost on 5th bet Garfield and 1st of A&S Pork Stores was forced to relocate--by the daughter of the original owner selling the building.

          1. re: bob96

            What do you mean by absence of ordinary food stores?

            1. re: Peter Cuce

              I think Jen has clarified what I should have--that the world I described--to be clear, the one that thrived through the 50s and 60s and that finally ended by the early 1980s, served a community long gone, one that shopped frugally but carefully every day for bread, meat, produce, etc. I miss that world, since it was that of family and youth, and I miss the crazy economy that sustained it, with lots of local businesses. I also don't want to dismiss the local small supermarkets--the Associated on 5th and Union was always a supermarket, as a Dilbert's (chain long gone) back then. But it was a passing world, like all local worlds are. Of course there is food to be bought in the neighborhood, lots of it excellent, and perhaps by today's standrads it's all to be considered "ordinary" and the bar has shifted. It's also good to hear that home cooks like those posting here have satisfying sources, but I was really remarking more about the loss of a social world and its unique pleasures (Migee the Brier's ice cream guy who'd keep packing a little extra into your pint if you kept him gabbing about baseball, the baker who always knew to reserve certain bread for you for Sunday.....) than on specific products. I can, of course, get a range of quality Italian bread in Manhattan in many shops--even though there really isn't a classic Italian bread bakery left on the island (Parisi maybe excepted). A once localized food culture has been, gleefully, domesticated throughout the city, and no longer always needs a special neighborhood base to sustain it, either. But it's nice to remember Frank the fruit and veg guy on Carroll always stuffing a few stalks of parsley or basil into your bag of green beans. Or offering a little brandy in the back during Christmas holidays. Or getting friendly enough with the butcher (with whom you were distantly related, I think) to end up at his daughter's wedding.

            2. re: bob96

              Key food on Fifth Ave. & Sterling has been there since I moved into the neighborhood in 1990. It's better than ever. Associated, on Fifth Ave. and Union, has also been there for over 25 years. It's expanded a number of times in the last 10 years and does a booming business.

              Both of them are ordinary but very good at what they do.

              1. re: Bob Martinez

                Granting what you say, the difference between "then" and "now" on the Fifth Avenue strip is that the neighborhood is much more about eating out and take out dining options than stores selling food to be prepared at home. the fact there is on longer a daily bakery on the strip (even the Royal Crown bakery cafe has closed) and no fish market and no greengrocer per se is indicative. At least M&S and Fleishers have opeined and the sunday greenmarket fills some of the gap in quality food for home cooks..But the old ladies standing in line at A&S for 1/4 lb of this and 1/4 lb of that for their families Sunday lunch are long gone.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I don't ever recall a greengrocer on the 5th Ave. strip. You're right about the fishmonger though. I don't recall a bakery between Sterling and 5th St. but I could be wrong.

                  I sort of see this as one of those instances where the good old days weren't really all that. Back in the early 1990s Fifth Ave. had lots of empty storefronts. For every A&S or Pollio's there were dozens of junk stores. Overall, the shopping is better now. So are the restaurants.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    ETA - responding to jen kalb, not Bob Martinez.

                    I don't want to sound argumentative, but I really have to disagree with your assessment this neighborhood isn't good for cooking at home.

                    Let me start by saying I've only lived in park slope for about a year (right near 5th and 5th). I've lived in NYC for 13 years, and this is the best, most "cookable" hood I've lived in. (8 years in midtown east, 2 in Gram-Murray, 2 in Boerum Hill, now PS). The latin grocery on 5th between 7th and 8th is my staple. There's the C-Town if I need a larger, more well-stocked store, there's the Associated by Union, there's A&S if I want a butcher, and then there's Fleischer's if I want to go to an upscale butcher. True, there's no fish monger on 5th ave, but if I walk up to 7th ave, there are two practically side by side, as well as a wonderful cheese monger in between them.

                    No, there's no proper bakery. But in this day and age most groceries carry high quality fresh bread. And there is no shortage of places to get sweets, either for home or during a post-prandial stroll.

                    Jen, where do you live? If you find 5th Ave so bleak, I want to know where you are that you have better options. And I also want to know if there are any apartments for lease there. :-)

                    1. re: egit

                      Agreed. I've lived in the nabe, albeit further south, since 1997, and shopping for cooking is better than it's ever been.
                      Fleishers prices are great for grass fed, organic meat, which is pretty much all I buy when I'm cooking for myself anyway; I'm not an old lady, but I often go in there for a 1/4 lb of this and a 1/2 lb of that.
                      In addition to the Union Market on 6th & Union, there's a new 24 hour Key Food on 12th St and 5th Ave, and of course the Union Market on 7th Ave, which is closer to me. Union Market gets bread delivered daily from quality bakers around the city.

                      1. re: egit

                        Just saying, essentially, there is no comparison to a neighborhood little italy such as Bob96 described existing on fifth ave of yore, Park Slope has a lot of excellent food options certainly we are absolutely blessed in comparison with many many communities, but the market is less focussed on the [economical] home cook and daily food preparation, certainly not as intimate in feel. as it once was..

                        . Speaking of bread, specifically, while we have some good bread options from high end (at Brooklyn Larder, Runner+Stone Blue Apron etc) to low (the portuguese bread and rolls at the supermarket) plus the weekly farmers markets there is nothing like a good daily bakery with reasonable prices selling a staple normal people eat every day to make home eating a pleasure. Im not dissing the neighborhood or its stores which are indeed much improved,, but I leave the neighborhood every week to buy fruit and veg, bread, cheese, and suchlike.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          I'm curious which places you buy these things then that you feel aren't available in the Slope. I can't fathom what you're referring to actually.

                          1. re: Peter Cuce

                            Well, I have a car, and my shopping habits developed long before the Park Slope food scene picked up a bit and the 5th Ave Key revived. Ive never been pleased by the fruit in the local korean groceries or the fresh veg in the local supermarkets all that much, but the key component as I mentioned before, is the lack of a good daily bakery in Park Slope. And by the time I am in Bensonhurst for Colluccio (parm, cured meats pasta and other cheese as well as bread) which carries many of these products, Il Fornaretto and/or Royal Crown it makes good sense to go to Three Guys, etc as part of the swing. Patel Bros for fresh, inexpensive whole milk yogurt., spices etc.GAP, 5th Ave Farmers Mkt sand Fairway for Fish, Brooklyn Chinatown stores for tofu and veg,, Eagle Provisions for certain meat and grocery fill-ins Sahadi although less since the parking situation got grim.- I like family stores. But I also am frequently at Costco Fairway TJ in NJ. Value is a component, as well as enjoying the global village of Brooklyn.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              ps - one Sunday afternoon toward closing at Coluccio's the checkout lady gave me ALL the leftover bread they had - a big bag full of maybe a dozen loaves

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                Jen, you've described almost exactly the paths I'd be following if I still lived in Brooklyn. I might head to Carroll Gardens to Caputos or Mazzola for bread, and to Court Street Pastry for biscotti on the ride back, tho.

                                1. re: Bkeats

                                  Bkeats, thanks. It was nice, as incomplete as nice always is: it was a neighborhood of old line families, working people, some of them in chronically hard times, other on the way up and out to more money and bigger homes. It was also a provincial, noisy, run down, racist place, where the N word was used all the time, even though there were no black folks anywhere around. It was also a time of lingering organized crime control, vicious gang wars, the beginning of the hard drug problem, and the slow deindustrialization not just of Brooklyn but of the city, as these solid jobs on the waterfront and in manufacturing were disappearing. Family by family, folks moved out to Long Island, New Jersey, and other points. Before long, the very first waves of gentrification in the 1960s brought young, middle class couples fleeing Manhattan for some light, air, and a sense of urban place, began moving in. We sold my grandfather's row house on Union St in 1975. And that, as Robert DeNiro said at the close of Casino, was that.

                                  1. re: bob96

                                    I think it is so interesting and fantastic that my post evolved into a discussion of the way 5th Avenue was. My two cents- We moved from Carroll Street to 5th Avenue 14 years ago and even then the feeling was quite different bodegas stiil were on almost every book and there were different types of people in the community. I remember the really nice Korean guy who had a store on the corner of Union and 5th who had almost every flavor of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. He would often be on the street practicing his golf swing.

                                    1. re: jonfbrooklyn

                                      Funny: that was my corner as a kid, when Union Hall was Spinner's Italian American Supermarket and the corner building a Manufacturer's Bank. We'd play box ball, johnny-on-the-pony and other games all day alongside that bank, have dinner, and go out again after. Mothers would argue about who baked the best bread, where not to buy sausage and mozzarella (this week, at least), and the need to watch out for so-and-so's fruit. Other corners held a men's wear shop, a wine-and-spirits store, and Pete's candy store on the sw corner, which served as the local wiseguy numbers center.

                2. I think its going to be a Le Pain Quotidien.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                    i hope not. Continuing the "malling" of park Slope.

                    1. re: jonfbrooklyn

                      Sadly, I think it's so.


                      It's not as bad as some options, but distressing just the same.