Barbecue season may be over, but f.o.b. has just started firing up its grills.
Instead of burgers and hot dogs however, you’re more likely to find chicken wings marinated in coconut milk and galangal tickling the flames, along with saucy skewers of cubed pork, served with strands of pickled papaya.
That’s because the Street Smith newcomer is devoted to Filipino food, featuring a menu inspired by the varied cooking styles from the Philippines’ island diaspora, along with family recipes from chef/ co-owner Armando Litiatco’s birthplace of Manila. And having equipped the kitchen with a series of grills (and forgone fryers entirely) he and partner Ahmet Kiranbay are on a commendable mission: to showcase a lighter, livelier, and largely stew-free side of the cuisine.
So in lieu of the popular crispy spring rolls known as lumpia, head-on, 7-Up-soaked, peel n’ eat tiger shrimp sit amongst the appetizers, as well as tuna kilawin: a mango, red onion and tomato-thickened ceviche. And while there’s a requisite chicken adobo (Litiatco’s dad’s “overnight,” vinegar-rich version) it’s a rare bird as far as entrees are concerned, most of which owe a lot more to quick charring (think duck breast inasal with calamansi and annatto butter, whole fish wrapped in banana leaves, and liempo—Berkshire pork belly accompanied by a spicy, sweet and sour dip) than slow-braising.
As far as side dishes are concerned, it seems that macaroni salad is a commonality between Filipino and American-style bbq, along with full-flavored greens (f.o.b offers morning glory instead of collards, sautéed with chili and garlic, and shrimp paste-daubed taro leaves, inundated with coconut milk). Though a duo of noodles—pancit canton and pancit bihon—are wholly unique to Southeast Asia—as are moist, butter-yellow mounds of milagrosa rice.
Summer is notoriously slow in Carroll Gardens, when residents tend to abandon the city in droves for considerably more exotic locales. Yet f.o.b. may have cannily circumvented the regular seasonal exodus, by bringing tropical, grill-fired fare straight to Smith Street.
271 Smith St., Carroll Gardens
Photos by Max Branigan