Restaurants that only seem expensive

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Photo by Marie Viljoen

These aren’t the cheapest places you’ll read about on Brokelyn, but there are occasions—birthdays, anniversaries, when someone with more money is paying—when a truck-stand taco doesn’t quite cut it.  So we asked the mystery diner behind the anonymously authored Eat It: The Brooklyn Food Blog for a list of restaurants that offer luxury, in one way or another, beyond their menu prices. Here are her picks.

Let’s start with the Italians. Fragole (394 Court St., 718-522-7133) is my favorite Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, great for a date or for a small family gathering.  It’s sweet, romantically-lit, and has the tastiest pasta dishes around, all for less than $15, though most are under $12. They use fresh ingredients, make their pasta daily, and has a relaxed vibe; try the rigatoni with eggplant and mozzarella. They also have a big selection of wines, all for $27 a bottle. Also, on Tuesdays, they have a wine & dine special where their regular wine list is half price.

Another great place for fantastic Italian food is Il Passatore Trattoria (14 Bushwick Ave., 718-963-3100,  Most of their pasta entrees go for between $8 and $10 and their meat dishes go for between $12 and $17.  The pasta is made daily on the premises, the waitstaff is friendly and adept and the space, with its brick walls, dark wood and red accents, feels warm and inviting. Great for a date or small family gathering.  The tagliatelle with a bolognese ragu & peas is the best dish—hearty, meaty and satisfying.

Another Italian: In Cobble Hill, I love Bocca Lupo (391 Henry St., 718-243-2522) for dates. The setting feels intimate and reasonably priced dishes. Try any pasta dish, or the divine veal & porcini meatballs, served on a slice of thick, crusty bread. End with the mascarpone cheesecake with apricots and rum and you won’t regret it.

picture-9A good option for family stuff, groups or dates is Park Slope’s Sidecar (560 Fifth Ave. between 15th St & 16th streets, 718-369-0077.) The dark leather booths feel luxurious, and the food, casual American with a twist, is consistently solid. I had an amazing seafood salad there that was big enough to share.

Also in Park Slope, Cafe Steinhof (422 7th Avenue, 718-369-7776,  Nothing is over $14 here and everything is delicious.  Whether it’s a whole, roasted trout, bratwurst and sauerkraut or a light & crispy salad, everything is fresh, flavorful and substantial. It’s kind of a kooky place, with odd decorations for an Austrian restaurant (potted palms?), but once your food comes you won’t notice anything else.

Another place I love is 68, a place in Greenpoint that’s got great deals on oysters every day of the week (68 Greenpoint Avenue, 718-389-6868,  It’s sort of your basic bistro with salads, sandwiches and entrees, but most things are under $14 (save for the steak, which is $18), and the food is quite tasty.  It’s also roomier so you can take large groups here and not feel cramped.

For really good sushi that won’t set you back too much, I recommend Koto Sushi & Steak (552 Henry Street, 718-222-8055,  The fish is fresh and there are always specials available when you dine in.  They seem to mostly do deliveries, so you’ll always get a table, and the service is attentive, efficient and friendly.  The chirashi is great deal and you get an assortment of fish.  I also love their softshell crab maki.

Photo by Marie Viljoen

Finally, a good bet for a range of occasions is Buttermilk Channel (top, above) in Carroll Gardens (524 Court Street, 718-852-8490,  It’s open and light, yet cozy and comfortable.  There’s a whole separate menu for vegetarians, small snacks, salads and entrees for a range of prices, and nothing is more than $20.

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  1. What I’d really like is a cheap restaurant that uses local food (vegetables, meat, eggs). Does such a place exist?

  2. Well, a number of the places listed here offer local food and some dishes are on the cheaper side. I don’t think that you can find really cheap stuff that’s of good quality though. If anybody has made any discoveries and wants to share, I’d love to hear about other places to support!

  3. Mildly disappointed that Locanda Vini e Olli isn’t on here. Super good, and if you can limit yourself to one dish (the portions are decent), it actually is quite affordable. Having said that, if you get 4 dishes & a bottle of wine for 2 people, you will be happily sated, but completely broke.

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