Well before the charmingly scraggy streets of Gowanus were paved with barbecue hubs and oyster bars, Michael and Ping’s was a rare bright spot on Gowanus’s food landscape, supplying prescient residents and underserved warehouse workers with all-natural Chinese food in a certified green space. Which is why, after all these years, it’s probably disconcerting for passerby to spot a sandwich board outside announcing 2 Yutes, especially since the kitchen within still churns out hormone-free sesame chicken, and free-range egg drop soup.
Instead of being poised for a takeover, however, the new-ish panini place is simply sharing real estate with its older sibling, allowing owner Michael Bruno to stretch his wings, creatively, while taking advantage of a favorable lease, a built-in customer base, and an uncommonly large kitchen and dining room. And while he’s the first to express misgivings over the unusual arrangement (concerned over potential Subway/Nathan’s/Arthur Treacher’s comparisons), it’s just as easily interpreted as a micro food hall; offering plenty of seating options and totally divergent menus.
And truthfully, 2 Yutes (Italianese for “youths”) is much more in Bruno’s wheelhouse, being that he grew up in an Italian household in Bensonhurst. Coupling family recipes with ingredients from the old hood, current options include his mama’s own secret recipe rice balls (we applaud the evident inclusion of cured soppressata and Lioni’s mozzarella), and Papa Pasquales deep-fried ravioli, plunged into pools of housemade marinara.
Carroll Gardens’ octogenarian staple, Mazzola, supplies its famous lard bread—which the 2 Yutes team fashions into deadly mini grilled cheese sandwiches—along with the ciabatta that gets pressed into paninis, from Nana’s Eggplant layered with grilled zucchini and bruschetta, to the Grandpa Angouille Po’Boy thick with sausage, slaw and sweet pickles, and specials like the Smokin’ Hot Gowanus, comprised of a breaded chicken cutlet, spicy mayo, and plenty of Lioni’s smoked mozz.
Its namesake neighborhood may be flush with food options nowadays, but Michael Bruno has admirably doubled down with 2 Yutes.
437 3rd Ave., 718-788-0031
Photos by Sasha Turrentine