A Culinary Walking Tour of Brooklyn


Photos by Alfa-Betty Olsen

To view a slide show featuring images of the Bay Ridge restaurants described in this post, click here.

Ethnic communities in New York City have usually been singular. Chinatown is a Chinese town, and Chinese food shops and Chinese restaurants are about all you will find there. Little Italy is (or was) an area dominated by Italian culture and Italian cooking.

But some parts of town have gone plural. Take this ten-block culinary stroll through a little corner of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and see how ethnic groups can keep their identity and yet be part of a curious assimilation.

From Manhattan take the N train to 59th Street in Brooklyn. Get off and wait for the R train. Take that to 77th Street, get off and surface on Fourth Avenue. There you'll find a church: The United Korean Church of New York, the Reverend Young Kwan Oh, Pastor. "English Ministry Sunday Worship, 1:30 P.M." They do not have a restaurant so turn towards Fifth Avenue.

On the next block the Bay Ridge Sushi Kebab and Gyro resides. Their name says it all. Across the Avenue you will notice The Bagel Villa, whose name also says it all.

Right by the corner of Fifth Avenue and 77th Street there is a restaurant: La Maison Couscous, "Seafood--Tangines--Grill." Next to it right on the corner is a fruit/vegetable market. Fruits and vegetables are displayed on the street. The message "Amish Fruit and Vegetable Farm, Free Delivery" is painted large on the building wall above.

Turn right. Heading towards 76th Street you will see, on the East side of Fifth Avenue: Mejlander and Mulgannon Delicatessen, where "All Cooking Done On the Premises." Mejlander is a Norwegian name and Mulgannon, Irish. There is Norwegian Cod Liver Oil, marzipan candy imported from Norway, and Irish oatmeal for sale. They also feature a sandwich called Cardiac Arrest--roast beef with melted mozzarella on toasted garlic bread with butter--and another sandwich called The King Eric, roast beef with melted mozzarella with home-made beef gravy on a hero. Mejlander and Mulgannon also delivers Breakfast "Every Morning!" And offers catered meals, "Filet Mignon, Boneless Roast Pork, Roasted Leg of Lamb," and other turkey, chicken, and ham meals.

Right near Mejlader and Mulgannon you will see The Royal Restaurant, "Seafood, Steaks, Chops. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner." Across the Avenue on the West side Leske's Norwegian Bakery keeps the Nordic ovens going.

Keep walking and cross 76th Street. On the East side corner of Fifth Avenue there is another Bakery, Jean Danet, French Pastries. Jean Danet provides tables and chairs and people sit eating French pastries and drinking coffee. Across the Avenue you will see The West Bean Post Pub, which does not sell beans of any kind, but you can get burgers and other kinds of pub food and you can order beer from several different countries.

75th Street is labeled Bay Ridge Parkway. Cross it and you will find Gino's Italian Restaurant, a fairly large white table cloth restaurant that which features traditional Italian fare and also has a pizza oven and counter that is highly regarded locally for pizzas of various kinds. They play Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra recordings from the moment they open to the moment they close.

VIEW SLIDE SHOW>> 07_Schnitzel Haus_post.jpg

Photo by Alfa-Betty Olsen

Move right along to 74th Street and on the East side of Fifth you will see Schnitzel Haus, "Authentic German Restaurant," which is seriously committed to authentic German foods. And, on the same block, China One Fresh Taco, where you will find a Chinese and Mexican food side by side. Across from these two eateries on the West side of Fifth there is a bar called The Ski Bar, "Est. 2007" and apparently committed to following ice hockey on television.

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Alfa-Betty Olsen is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and television writer. More

Alfa-Betty Olsen is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and television writer. After graduating from The State University of Iowa in Iowa City, Olsen returned to New York and worked with Mel Brooks on The Producers and was the casting director of that film. She then worked with Marshall Efron on the landmark PBS series The Great American Dream Machine followed by an Emmy-winning career writing for television with Efron. They have also written many film scripts. Other Olsen-Efron collaborations have appeared in The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Esquire, National Lampoon and Spy. Their seven published books include several children's books, most recently Gabby The Shrew (Random House), illustrated by celebrated New Yorker cartoonist, Roz Chast.

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