There are amazing neighborhood restaurants—those places that you’ve come to rely on for simple but great food mere blocks from your abode, but that you wouldn’t necessarily trek to if they weren’t so close by. And then there are the amazing restaurants that, if you’re really lucky, just so happen to open in your neighborhood but would attract people from other zip codes no matter where they landed. For this Gowanus resident, The Pines falls into the latter category. Opened last September on Third Avenue, a street already flexing its culinary muscle with places like pie haven Four and Twenty Blackbirds and Runner and Stone (I’ve previously sung the praises of their house-made baguette), the lure of The Pines is manifold. First, and perhaps most importantly, there is Angelo Romano, the hip hop-devoted (the kitchen wall is scrawled with the words “Ride or Die”, a paean to DMX) chef who accrued a following among Brooklyn food obsessives in his former posts at Roberta’s and the short-lived, but much-loved, Masten Lake. Italian remains the cuisine from which Romano plucks the most inspiration, but at The Pines it is only a jumping-off point for dishes that also bear a myriad of Asian flavors and pledge heavy allegiance to greenmarket produce finds. On the night I last visited that meant buttery sablefish floating in a dashi broth with manila clams and ramps, gem lettuce salad with spring garlic, bonito and orangey egg yolk, velvety sea urchin accompanied by sea buckthorn, amaranth and upland cress, and a fork-tender lamb neck with a risotto-style kasha, horseradish leaf and hyssop. And just as at his previous two restaurants, Romano continues his homemade pasta domination here; though the menu changes almost daily what always stays put, and for very good reason, is the not-to-be-missed pici with trotter ragu. Beyond the menu, the space itself, designed by co-owner Carver Farrell—he borrowed the restaurant’s name and much of its reclaimed décor from a Catskills summer camp— is just as beckoning. Pressed tin wall panels and ceilings, wide-plank floors and low antique Windsor chairs serving as stools for the wood-paneled bar all give the space a lovingly worn-in feel. The Pines’s biggest draw this summer though may just be the sprawling backyard, complete with a very summer camp-esque fire pit. More than just a waiting area for dinner customers, Romano plans to offer an entirely separate Basque-inspired menu out back of various grilled and skewered bites, to be paired with an impressive list of Spanish ciders (which I’ve made clear, I’m a big fan of). Needless to say The Pines is one neighbor I will be dropping in on a lot in the coming months. FIORELLA V.
284 Third Ave., Brooklyn, NY; thepinesbrooklyn.com