road trip: we go to Brooklyn

Update: when we arrived home after the events described in the rest of the post, we turned on the news.  In the midst of life...  this post was originally scheduled to go up Saturday morning. I don't feel all sparkly and twinkly now.

When I read about restaurants, which is often, I notice that more and more tiny individualistic "personality" restaurants have opened in Brooklyn, most in areas not well served by public transportation. Or I may read that a place that's over an hour away by car is said to have the best slice of pizza in all 5 boroughs. (In case you didn't know, the City of New York consists of 5 boroughs, the island of Manhattan being only one of them.)

I'd be happy to try any of these little places, although I wouldn't drive an hour for a slice. What I read about the new little restaurants, is that the food - when it arrives - is generally unusual but generally good . Not all that enticing. I'll also read that there is no written menu or the chef is a genius but temperamental or there is one single tasting menu or there are only 11 seats and they don't take reservations. None of these "features" inspire me to sit in traffic cursing at MapQuest, I'll tell you.

I just figured out what I'm reminded of : the unshaven cook in the flannel shirt in Northern Exposure. Adam? the unpleasant genius?

Anyway, every year we go looking at Christmas lights. This year I have concert tickets over the weekend, so we won't be getting off the road to go browsing on the way out to Flintstone Manor. Instead, on Friday we decided to take a short ride to a section of Brooklyn called Dyker Heights. This is a nice residential area with homes of all sizes, and in December it's famous for its Christmas lights. And with good reason, I'd say.

Christmas lights, in my opinion, are best observed just when it's gotten dark. That's when you get the sense of light in a darkening world. Darkness would be about 4:30 p.m. according to the paper. Thus question for us was whether we'd have a late lunch before going block to block, or an early dinner afterwards. We knew we'd be eating at Tommaso's either way. Tommaso's is a Beloved Neighborhood Institution in Dyker Heights, and outside of Dyker Heights it's known as "One of Everyone's Favorite Red Sauce Joints Plus They Have Valet Parking." We set off early, still a little dubious about the post-Sandy conditions of some of the roads.

Tomasso's were still serving lunch when we rolled up at 3, so that was that decision made. Who sits down to lunch at 3? People whose lifestyles might include late nights pursuing mysterious pursuits. And us. The genial host was delighted to see us, sat us down, brought us menus, fed us. I had delicious baby meatballs in ragu, light, tender, and pappardelle with ragu of rabbit. Himself had pasta fazool and a plate of food described as a main course of lasagne with homemade ricotta, but which also included some meatballs, some shank of veal, some... As I said, the man fed us. The restaurant has a quiet, confidential, safe feeling. You could complain about your relatives or have lunch with a divorce lawyer or worry with your uncle's accountant, you can't hear one table at another. Picture-taking is sometimes tolerated, not generally encouraged. What a pleasure: no scene, no decibels!

And by the time we finished our late lunch/early dinner, it was dark and the lights were on. Outside, driving around and stopping to ooh and aah, and yes, picture taking is encouraged.


  1. Yes, I think you've nailed it with the Adam reference!

    1. Hi, Merry Wife, friends came to town having already spent hours making reservations at one of these sit-at-the-counter places, and were bitterly disappointed. The place just couldn't live up to its own PR.

  2. Ah yes, the temperamental chef - no thank you, that's only acceptable at long holiday meals when someone at the table points out the one item that's not there and then the hostess/cook gets...annoyed. .... Very pretty pictures and the quiet cheer they convey needed more than ever.

    1. Hi, Barbabelle, thanks! I dislike having to pay for unpleasant experiences, especially when they're not dental.

  3. What fun to discover a new place, especially in a neighborhood with all the cheery lights.

  4. Hi, Lane, what was really nice was that a lot of other people had come to do just what we were doing, and there was such a lovely spirit among householders and gawkers.


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