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.
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.
On the next block, 73rd to 72nd, the Bay Ridge Sushi Kebab and Gyro, where "entrees served with rice or French fries," resides. Their name says it all. Across the Avenue you will notice The Bagel Villa, whose name also says it all.
Turning your attention back to the West side and proceeding on you will pass The Tarboosh Café, a Turkish restaurant featuring live Middle Eastern music. A tarboosh, by the way, is another word for the hat sometimes known as a fez. And a little further down the block, there is a shop entitled Sweet Arayssi, also Middle Eastern. Across from that, Pam and Craig's Bakeries, not Middle Eastern.
You will now have reached Ovington Avenue, which is actually 72nd Street. Cross it and keep going. The next eatery you will come to is The Elegante Pizzeria, and across the Avenue you will see The Killarney Pub, which is hard to miss because it has four flags stationed on the pavement in front of it--the Stars and Stripes, an Irish flag, the Norwegian flag and the POW flag. You will also see next to it, The China Pagoda, a Chinese Halal restaurant.
At 69th Street turn left towards Fourth Avenue. Almost immediately you will pass the Bahry Fish Market, which has several tables and chairs for eat in customers who want their fish right away. Its sign announces, "Mediterranean Style Cooking." Right near it is The Meena House Café, with "WiFi internet available" and also "all kinds of Hookah flavors."
Yianni's is on the corner of 69th Street and Fourth Avenue and is proud to announce above the front windows, "So Much Flavor Under One Roof." Yianni is a Greek name and Yianni's is a diner in the front and a white tablecloth restaurant in the back serving Greek specialities among other foods. A sign in the window of the diner section reads: "Featuring: Irish Soda Bread." Another sign reads: "Yappuccino [sic], Colatta, Latte, Panini."
From here you can catch the R train back to Manhattan. That is, if you haven't been tempted to retrace your steps and sample some of the edibles.
And, by the way, every year on the Sunday closest to May 17th, there is a parade down Fifth Avenue celebrating Norwegian Constitution Day, which is something like the American Fourth Of July. Norwegians march, Brooklyn High School Bands march, and Irish bag pipe bands march (some of the guys wear plaid skirts.) The few remaining survivors of the Norwegian Merchant Marine fleet who made the North Atlantic crossing during the submarine days of World War Two no longer march; they ride in an open car, as does the winner of the Miss Norway Contest. There is a vendor who works the parade every year, and you can always buy a "Kiss Me I'm Norwegian" pin for your lapel and a little Norwegian flag to wave.