South Brooklyn has always been a destination for no-frills, nostalgic dining — boasting Brennan and Carr (Sheepshead Bay, circa 1938), L and B Spumoni Gardens (Gravesend, 1939), Colandrea New Corner (Dyker Heights, 1936), and of course, the original Nathans (Coney Island, 1916). It’s certainly never been a hotbed for the hip and cool, or part of any successful restaurant’s expansion plans — until now.
As luck would have it, the new outpost of David’s Brisket House seems almost tailor made for Bay Ridge — at least more than it did Bed Stuy when it opened there in 1981 (Muslim proprietors serving Jewish deli sandwiches to a largely African-African community? Crazies!) Now located on 77th Street and Fifth Avenue, it’s flanked by a burgeoning Arab population on one side and dyed-in-the-wool Brooklyn octogenarians on the other; the kind that recently pooh-poohed the posh corned beef at elevated eatery Gold Coast, causing it to close in less than a year.
As far as authenticity is concerned, David’s Brisket House definitely has what it takes to make it in this part of the borough — house-cured meats, pliant, rye bread, and sandwiches priced and structured according to how much protein is inside (at $7, the small will satisfy a fairly reasonable appetite, the $13 large could make a competitive eater wince).
The pastrami gives Katz’s a run for its money — offset by nothing more than a lick of mustard, the deeply flavorful meat is impossibly tender and fire engine red, ringed with a perfect crust of peppery char. The corned beef is a return to form for Bay Ridge purists; savory and salty, interspersed with bands of wobbly fat — bound to please old-school deli-hounds and the local Irish contingent alike. And the eponymous brisket is undeniably tasty; dribbled with gravy, it’s an excellent, dairy-free answer to one of the neighborhood’s Italian-American favorites — roast beef with motz. It’s even better when improbably deposited into the heretical “Brooklyn Cheesesteak,” something I sneered at my husband for ordering and then promptly ate the other half of when he wasn’t looking.
Maybe in thirty years or so, South Brooklyn will gain bragging rights to yet another dining institution.
7721 5th Ave, (718) 333-5662