The Rucola team has been on a roll lately, branching out with projects that have all but dominated Brooklyn’s bar scene, including Julian Brizzi’s Grand Army (which rocks an especially righteous cocktail program), and Henry Moynahan Rich’s luscious wine mecca, June. And now, longtime chef, Joe Pasqualetto, is getting in on the action too, putting food back at the forefront by joining forces with Rich, and opening the French Catalonian bistro, Cassette, on a covetable corner of Greenpoint.
Now open for dinner, brunch, and lunch, Cassette’s ambitions are much in line with Rucola’s—aiming to eventually emerge as a morning through evening destination. And indeed, the approachable menu, equitable prices and expansive space—a 91-seat stunner with especially diverse seating options—falls well in line with that mission; window-adjacent two-tops can easily accommodate both afternoon laptop-tappers and date night-diners; farmhouse-style tables buttressing rowdy groups, knocking back drafts of fizzy Asturian cider, and the bar—already packed end to end with patrons nibbling meat and cheese plates—is alternately suitable for a line-up of breakfast pastries and espresso cups.
By focusing on the rustic peasant cuisine of Catalonia, the restaurant easily avoids the fustiness often associated with French fare; flavor is held in much higher regard than presentation, with Pasqualetto unapologetically embracing the autumnal palate of yellow, tan and brown. The dedicated “Vegetable” section of the menu includes a nosegay of just-chilled cauliflower florets, lively with curry and speckled with coriander; fleshy filets of dorade with crispy, cross-hatched skin serve as entrée, balanced on licoricey frills of roasted fennel and washed with a saffron shellfish broth; and dun-colored duck leg confit, atop a hash of vinegared brussel sprout “kraut,” smoked bacon and butter-soft potatoes is a must order appetizer—if the meat hadn’t fallen away with the faintest touch of a fork, we would have readily gobbled it right off the bone.
Streamlined portions make it easy to cut a sizeable swath through the menu, leisurely transitioning from pumpkin crostino to pan roasted chicken to crème catalan, with a glass of Domaine Jorel “Bande de Gypse” at the ready. Cassette strives to foster that European sensibility, by turning eating into an all-day affair, and they’re definitely on the right track.