Contemporary American fare with a casual old-time Brooklyn ambience is the calling card of The New Williamsburg Café, which will open July 4 at 170 Wythe Avenue.
Head chef Sunny Bang was excited to bring a “casual fine-dining restaurant, with an emphasis on casual” to a changing neighborhood whose demand for gourmet food was increasing.
It will be the first solo venture for Bang, who has worked under Tom Colicchio – of Top Chef fame – at Craft, Craft Bar and Craft Steak restaurants in Manhattan.
His seasonal menu will specialize in local ingredients, from “dayboat” seafood to Long Island clams to a cheeseboard comprising upstate New York and Vermont dairy.
“There’s so much good stuff to be had in the area that when people don’t buy local they’re missing out on a wealth of great food,” said Bang.
Take the underutilized brook trout, for instance, which, unbeknownst to many, is the official fish of New York State.
Bang oven-roasts the trout with a pea puree and a fresh “cauliflower steak,” meaning the whole piece of cauliflower is sliced down the middle.
In keeping with the neighborhood feel, Bang said all entrees would be reasonably priced in the $18 to $25 range.
They will include nods to Bang’s native Texas – a fried chicken dish with mashed potatoes and porcini gravy – as well as his Korean descent – a salad featuring beef marinated in the style of a Korean short-rib dish.
All pastas are made from scratch, from the papardelle with braised spring lamb, to the tagliatelle with a puttanesca-inspired red sauce, to gnocchi with mushroom cream sauce and carmelized onions.
The wine list will feature local wines as well as wines from all over the world.
If the name sounds familiar to area residents, that’s because the New Williamsburg Café will replace the original Williamsburg Café, which opened nearly five years ago to early success before stumbling in recent years.
“It was pretty good at first, but the place changed hands a bunch of times and it wound up being really mismanaged. You’d hear horror stories about people not getting water,” Bang remembered.
Because of the recent history of the space, the new management is focused on having the quality of service match that of the food.
“You have to have a passion for service,” said Angel Veliz, the restaurant’s general manager and CEO.
“The love that we put into the ingredients and food, we’re going to put into the service.”
Located in the former Moishe’s Bakery, the dimly lit interior will feature plenty of exposed brick, along with rich-blond wood floors Bang said “will not be super-finished.”
During the day, ceiling skylights will provide light. At night, the job will fall to original Williamsburg lampposts situated throughout the dining room, which will take their place alongside antique farming machinery.
Another charming old-time touch is the 130-year-old wood-burning ovens from the old bakery, which Bang said he will use to bake breads, pizzas, and pies.
Described Bang: “It gives a feel of what Brooklyn felt like at the turn of the century, kind of a “Gangs of New York” thing. It’s going to be like stepping into a time-machine.”