Manhattan-dwelling food lovers get on the subway and head out to the buddingly hip neighborhood of Bushwick for Roberta's, and it's worth trek. The menu, which is something like "Brooklyn Italian" with its emphasis on using very local ingredients (there's a garden on the roof!), changes regularly but expect duck-prosciutto pizza, goat-spiked pasta, and variations on the theme of snout-to-tail dining. And, of course, a supercool soundtrack that's music to any hipster's
ears. Go in off-hours or the waits can be long. For a more elegant Roberta's experience, check out the adjacent offshoot, Blanca, which serves upscale fixed-price multicourse meals (reservations are necessary and hard to get).
Sep 18, 2013
THIS REVIEW IS FOR BLANCA, SISTER RESTAURANT OF ROBERTA'S. My spouse and I dined at Blanca for dinner in mid-July 2013. We traveled to the restaurant from midtown New York, which cost approximately $30 each way by taxi. On the return from Bushwick, Brooklyn, the restaurant called a car/livery service for us, which charged a flat fee to Manhattan versus the metered ride we had on the way to the restaurant. We made our reservation on the first
of the month that we wished to dine using their new online reservation system called Seat Me. It worked fabulously, as opposed to the old method of telephoning on a particular day and time, because we had been unsuccessful ever to even get someone to answer the phone. As Blanca requested via email and telephone, we arrived at 4:30 for our 4:45 reservation; however, we were made to sit in the small bar area of Roberta's and have a drink before they agreed to seat us, which was just a bit annoying. (If you arrive really early, just around the corner is a bar/lounge called the Pine Box Rock Shop where you can have a drink in a larger, more comfortable space.) We would have rather wandered in the outdoor (but fenced in) garden space to view the gardens for which the restaurant is famous. The space for Roberta's is very casual and informal when compared with the space for Blanca. The entire restaurant complex occupies what must amount to a quarter of the block in Bushwick. Roberta's is on the immediate corner of Moore Street and Bogart Street, but is comprised of the main building, an atrium area, and an outdoor covered area that then leads to the gardens, which are both on the ground-level and raised. The Blanca building is at the back of the entire property and is super-modern and starkly furnished. Patrons (about 12 at one seating) sit at a bar (with comfortable bar stools) to watch the chefs work. Even the bathroom in Blanca is cool - nearly hidden in the wood and plant-covered wall. You are asked not to take photographs and to put your cell phone away. Each of our 20+ courses was delicious, carefully conceived and presented. Service was excellent, and the wait staff is extremely knowledgeable about ingredients and preparations. We were disappointed that the restaurant does not provide a menu that you can take home - most other tasting restaurants give you that as a souvenir (even Brooklyn-competitor Brooklyn Fare provided us with a basic menu outline when we requested it). We recommend this restaurant, however, the degree of difficulty in attaining a reservation, and then in reaching Brooklyn from Manhattan would probably deter us from dining here again.