Hart’s

One best restaurant list that I closely follow is Bon Appetit’s America’s Best New Restaurants list. Divided into different parts of the country, the list comes up with 50 nominees before narrowing down to 10 best. This year’s nominee list from New York City was impressive to say the least, including Aska, Olmsted and Le Coucou which I have all visited and enjoyed very much. And yet, the 10 best list went to an unassuming Mediterranean restaurant in Brooklyn. From the annual lists that this highly regarded magazine churn out every year, I can tell that the staff has an eye for finding neighborhood gems but Hart’s hasn’t been really on my radar. Is the restaurant as good as advertised by the Bon Appetit editors? I had to find out and brought my wife Jun to trek all the way to an obscure part of Brooklyn to try the food at Hart’s. And it turned out to be quite a good and satisfying trip.

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Fresh Ricotta with Roasted Tomatoes
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Fried Squid with Aioli

The virtue at Hart’s is how consistent the execution of all dishes was. By now, Jun and I have had over a hundred ricotta dishes in New York City, and yet the silky smooth one accompanied by roasted tomatoes made both of us smile for such elegant simplicity. A fried squid dish at a run-of-the-mill restaurant can get either too strong in flavor or too soggy in texture, but the one at Hart’s was more or less perfectly fried for a wonderful texture, and the addition of a hint of aioli on top is all you need in the flavor department. Bon Appetit magazine raved about the clam toast dish at Hart’s so I knew we had to try this and it was indeed a marvelous dish, with a surprisingly robust complexity in flavor and texture that wasn’t too oily to our pleasant surprise. If I can get a couple of bites of this every breakfast, I would certainly have a better morning!

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Clam Toast with Pancetta
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Head-on Prawns with Pepperonata and Chili

For main dish, we split head-on prawns with pepperonata and chili (the three appetizers we ordered turned out to be quite generous in portion so we only needed one main dish). The prawns were aptly cooked, but it was really the rustic touch of pepperonata and chili that made the dish quite delicious. You can see olive oil cake seemingly everywhere these days, but there was something extra special about the one we had for dessert at Hart’s, with its silky smooth texture and not overly sweet flavor that somehow worked beautiful with grapes and whipped cream.

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Olive Oil Cake with Grapes and Whipped Cream

Getting a reservation at Hart’s wasn’t too difficult but the restaurant’s dining space is relatively small and it does seem to be a neighborhood favorite, so I would still recommend booking in advance. One gripe I had about Hart’s is the wine list’s focus on organic and natural varieties, but the cocktails were capably made. The intimate dining space was another plus to our dinner experience, making it a great place for casual dates (there were mostly couples during our visit) and other no-frills dinners with loved ones. Hart’s surprised the restaurant world with its appearance in Bon Appetit’s list and it wasn’t a fluke. I haven’t been to a restaurant in a while where the food is all predictable yet so satisfying.

KenScale: 8.5/10

  • Creativity: 8.0/10
  • Execution: 9.0/10
  • Ingredients: 8.5/10
  • Flavor: 9.0/10
  • Texture: 8.5/10
  • Value: 8.0/10

Address: 506 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Telephone: (718) 636-6228

Website: http://www.hartsbrooklyn.com/

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