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Taste for travel

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Now that we’ve reached the heart of winter, and with months to go before the warmth of the sun can be felt again, all we can think about is taking a vacation.

But why bother going somewhere else when you can experience global flavor without leaving Brooklyn? Whether you’re in the mood for some hearty British comfort food, or a Mexican dish infused with fiery chiles, Brooklyn’s the place to be when you’re hungry for culinary adventure.

The ChipShop

With two locations — one in Park Slope that opened in 2001 and another, with a bar, in Brooklyn Heights that’s been around since 2005 — Chip Shop might be the our favorite British import. (It’s at least tied with NBC’s “The Office.”)

Specializing in deep-fried fish served with French fries, owner Chris Sell offers plenty of other delights, including shepherd’s pie, macaroni and cheese, Welsh rarebit and even deep-fried pizza.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, desserts like apple and blackberry crumble with custard or its fried Twinkies and candy bars — Mars Bar, Twix, Snickers, Bounty and Reese’s peanut butter cups are available — are widely regarded as some of the best around.

The ChipShop (383 Fifth Ave. at Sixth Street in Park Slope) accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $7.50-$13.50. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. Brunch is served from 11 am to 3:30 pm on weekends. For information, call (718) CHIPSHOP or visit www.chipshopnyc.com.

The ChipShop (129 Atlantic Ave. between Clinton and Henry streets in Brooklyn Heights) accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $7.50-$13.50. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. Brunch is served from 11 am to 3:30 pm on weekends. For information, call (888) FRYCHIP or visit www.chipshopnyc.com.

Luna Rossa

If it’s a trip to Naples that you’re dreaming of, look no further than Luna Rossa, a Carroll Gardens Italian spot open since November 2007. Under the watchful eye of chef Adolfo Montal, dishes like arugula salad with goat-cheese-covered grapes, fresh seafood pasta, which the chef serves himself, and 15 different brick oven pizzas — supervised by pizza guru Salvatore Nigriello — served with toppings such as broccoli rabe and sausage, bring the tastes of Italy to the streets of Brooklyn.

Desserts include tiramisu, mixed fruit custard cake and a variety of Italian ice creams, and they can be eaten at the restaurant or brought home as a souvenir of your culinary getaway.

Luna Rossa (552 Court St. at West Ninth Street in Carroll Gardens) accepts Discover, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $12.95-$15.95. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday, from 11:30 am to 10:30 pm; Friday and Saturday, from 11:30 am to 11 pm; and Sundays, from 11:30 am to 11 pm. Closed Mondays. For information, call (718) 875-1384.

Mexicali

Having been in business for over 25 years, Cobble Hill’s Mexicali is one of the borough’s most revered Mexican restaurants. What keeps the customers coming back is Chef Meneses Hipolito’s authentic dishes, including appetizers such as shrimp sauteed with garlic; homemade soups; classic entrees including chimichangas, burritos and the popular chicken “mole poblano”; and desserts like the house-made flan and fried ice cream.

“Everybody says our margaritas are the best in Brooklyn,” said owner Eva Sanchez, who offered that the classic tequila cocktails come in a variety of heady flavors. If margaritas aren’t your thing, though, a number of other drinks, like mojitos and martinis, arealso available with different mixers.

Mexicali (141 Court St. between Atlantic and Pacific avenues in Cobble Hill) accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $10.25-$27.50. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. For information, call (718) 625-7370.

Oven

Open since April 2007, this chic Henry Street pizzeria offers more than Italian food. Its menu boasts a world of culinary influences, evident in the curried chicken pizza and the decadent roasted Maine duck pizza, served with mozzarella cheese, scallions, cucumber and cilantro.

Entrees include a New York strip steak, Atlantic salmon and a slew of inventive pasta dishes thanks to chefs Erica Reichlin, Dadan White, Tanner Spees and Andrea Vargas.

And Oven, which has been known to draw celeb guests, serves the new Virgin Vines, the collection of wines from billionaire Richard Branson, who also owns Virgin Airlines.

Finally, no trip to Oven would be complete without splurging on the chocolate fondue, served with angel food cake and fresh fruit. That molten chocolate is sure to fortify you against the chill of winter; chef Spees said it’s the most popular dessert on the menu.

Oven (60 Henry St. at Cranberry Street in Brooklyn Heights) accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $13.99-$28.99. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Mondays. For information, call (718) 468-6836 or visit www.ovennewyork.com.

Piramide

Open since September 2007, this Park Slope restaurant serves up a taste of Central America with modern Mexican cuisine courtesy of chef John Zitlalpopoca, formerly of Brasserie Ruhlmann in Rockefeller Center. Guacamole, made tableside, and traditional entrees like tacos filled with steak, chicken, fish or veggies, come in sharable sizes.

Until the restaurant gets its liquor license, sangria, beer and wine are available to pair with your meal; and desserts like tres leches cake and bread pudding are sweet endings to your “comida.”

Music fans should stop by on every second and fourth Thursday evening for live mariachi music. Ole!

Piramide (499 Fifth Ave. between 12th and 13th streets in Park Slope) accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $15-$24. Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday. Dinner is available daily. On weekends, brunch is served from 11 am to 4 pm. For more information, call (718) 499-0002 or visit www.mexpiramide.com.

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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