Part of the MTA + James Beard Foundation DineAWAY series
Home to the sprawling greenery of Prospect Park and dotted with tree-lined, brownstone-filled streets, Park Slope feels a bit like the neighborhood on Sesame Street, with a diverse cast of friendly neighbors who all take pride in their community. It's the kind of place where you might see groups of friends sitting together on a stoop basking in the glow of a sunny day, volunteers heading to their shift at the community-run Park Slope Food Coop—the oldest member-owned and operated food store in the country— and others grazing the impressive Grand Army Plaza farmer’s market, held every Saturday.
This close-knit community is part of why Monia Solighetto chose Park Slope when she moved from Italy to New York nearly a decade ago to open her gelato shop L'Albero Dei Gelati.
“We chose Park Slope because of the goosebumps,” explains the Lombardy-native. “The same day [that we looked at the storefront], there was a farmers' market. It was a Sunday in September, a beautiful sunny day, and we had goosebumps. We didn't have that feeling in the Upper West Side, in Cobble Hill, in Carroll Gardens.”
Park Slope is a place where you can find Mom-and-Pop shops, artisans selling unique specialty items, colorful street art, eclectic clothing boutiques, and a really impressive collection of diverse eateries. We suggest spending the day walking 5th and 7th avenues, exploring the slew of craft beer bars (check out Owl Farm for 28 beers on tap), vintage clothing stores (L Train Vintage has some of the best), artisanal coffee shops (Kos Kaffe is the local's favorite for a reason), record stores (like Fifth Avenue Record Shop, the oldest in Brooklyn!), and everything else the neighborhood has to offer.
As Erin Shambura, chef and owner of Park Slope's Fausto restaurant, says, “An old friend once described Brooklyn neighborhoods as being ‘human-scale’ in a city built for giants. Park Slope has always embodied that for me. The community in Park Slope is truly something special.”
Where to eat and drink in Park Slope
A few blocks from Flatbush Avenue, on the corner of 5th Avenue and Prospect Place, sits Miriam, an Israeli restaurant helmed by Chef Rafael Hasid. With its colorful tiles, tea kettles, and etched tin lamps, the dining room invites you into an adventure through the Levant. The food, inspired by the flavors of Hasid’s native Israel, is packed with the flavors of spicy harissa, the creamy texture of tahini, and herby fragrance of za’atar and saffron wafting from the kitchen, all adding to the transitory experience.
Don't miss the succulent lamb shawarma, one of Chef Hasid's favorite dishes, with stewed tomatoes, crispy chickpeas, and charred flatbread. The halva mousse, a light and creamy dessert made from sweetened sesame paste, is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth: it’s topped with shredded halva floss (similar in texture and sweetness to cotton candy), date syrup, and pistachios.
If you are in the mood for something quick, check out Homemade by Miriam next door, a take-out location that offers some indoor and outdoor seating. The menu here focuses on Israeli soups, salads, and sandwiches, great options to pick up for a Prospect Park picnic. There is also a second Miriam location near the 72nd Street subway stop if you find yourself on the Upper West Side.
3 minute walk from Bergen Street
8 minute walk from Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Center
L'Albero Dei Gelati
When customers ask Monia Solighetto if she sells ice cream, she says, "No ice cream here." That's because the Lombardy-native and owner of L'Albero Dei Gelati wants everyone to know that her traditionally-made gelato, using her family’s recipe, is not the same as that other frozen stuff. Gelato makers like Solighetto use more milk and less cream in their mixture and churn it slower than one would when making ice cream, which gives gelato its unique dense and rich texture. For L’Albero’s gelator, there are no food colorings or artificial flavorings used; instead, organic ingredients and in-season produce straight from the farmer’s market fruit help make these flavors shine.
A second-generation gelato maker, Solighetto moved to Brooklyn with her husband in 2013 to open a New York branch of her family's gelato shop of the same name in Brianza, near Milan. Stop by, and you'll likely see her vibrant smile peeking out of the window, chatting with locals in Italian, and offering samples to passersby. While the gelato case is full of all the classics—lemon, pistachio, chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla—Solighetto prefers the allure of something new; her favorite is the savory weekly special flavor. Past specials include arugula pesto-ricotta; blue cheese, walnut, and honey; and yellow bell pepper.
9 minute walk from 4 Avenue - 9 Street
Good Wine, owned by Heather Johnston, is a favorite of the neighborhood thanks to Johnson’s value-minded but unique selections. With bottles starting at $15, you’ll be able to Good Wine’s offerings tend toward smaller, organic producers. As a female, Black business owner, she also champions diverse producers, including Black winemakers Bosman Family Vineyards, which has been making wine for eight generations in South Africa.
The former chef and food writer also brings her culinary expertise into the shop, aiming to make the shop as approachable to the home cook as possible by offering wine tastings and, pre-pandemic, weekly food and wine pairings. The bright storefront, decorated with a tree made from wine corks, has staff who are just as knowledgeable and passionate about wine as Johnston. If you just want to hang around some more, you can brown Johnston’s 1,200-volume cookbook collection.
9 minute walk from Union Street
10 minute walk from 4 Avenue - 9 Street
A grande dame of the neighborhood, the charming Ladybird Bakery has offered sweets to Park Slope residents for 30 years. With a wide breadth of cupcakes, cookies, cakes, tarts, scones, muffins, and other sweet baked goods on offer, it might take a long time staring at the pastry case to decide what to get.
The decadent Brooklyn Blackout cake, a dark chocolate cake filled with chocolate pudding and topped with fudge frosting and cake crumbs, is famous city-wide, but locals also love the classics, like their seasonal fruit-filled scones and muffins. The cookie jar lined counter is popular: show up around the 3 pm just-out-of-school hour, and you'll find Ladybird packed with school-aged kids and parents stopping by for their afternoon treat, like maple chew, chocolate chip walnut, and peanut butter sandwich cookies. The bakeshop also offers coffees made to order, and the handful of indoor tables and outdoor benches provide the perfect place to rest your feet and enjoy a treat.
After years of operating restaurants in the West Village, Fausto's chef Erin Shambura was happy to open her Park Slope restaurant with partner Joe Campanale in 2017. "We discovered a common desire to create a place that celebrated our shared love of Italian food, wine, and culture, and it was important for both of us to do that in the place we both call home, Brooklyn," she says. "Fausto is smaller and quieter than many of our previous endeavors [L’Artusi and Anfora]; we like that. It feels more authentic, more us, because the goal has always been to simply be a part of the fabric of the neighborhood."
Shambura's delicious homemade pasta and dishes coming out of their wood-burning ovens were an instant hit in the neighborhood. Although the menu rotates around local and seasonal ingredients, Shambura says the little gem salad with sheep feta and wildflower honey vinaigrette and the orecchiette with fennel braised pork and Tuscan kale pasta are classics guaranteed to stay on the menu. The space—a warm dining room of caramel banquets, mid-century modern glass lamps, and wooden paneling—is ideal for enjoying a glass of crisp wine or a Negroni after a long day walking around the area or celebrating with friends. It's especially lovely at sunset, with the golden light coming into the space from the restaurant's front windows.
2 minute walk from Grand Army Plaza
Ghenet, dubbed as "the place angels eat" by owner Yeworkwoha Ephrem, has been bringing Ethiopia’s culture, language, and authentic flavors to Park Slope residents for the past 15-plus years. Ghenet serves their dishes on a classic Ethiopian platter with a base of the thin, spongy flatbread called injera topped with heaping piles of different stewed vegetables, braised meat, and legume-laden sauces filled with Ethiopian spices and marinades. Highlights of Ghenet's menu include azifa, a flavorful lentil salad, engouday tibs, delicately spiced mushrooms sautéed with onions, and doro aletcha, a traditional chicken stew served with a hardboiled egg. Use the injera to scoop up the toppings and soak up the sauce, and wash it all down with a glass of honey wine. There are also plenty of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu, since veganism has been an integral part of Ethiopian culture for centuries. Finish the meal with a cup of traditional spiced Ethiopian coffee, enjoyed with a spoonful of honey placed under the tongue.
3 minute walk from Union Street
7 minute walk from Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Center
What to do in Park Slope
The Old Stone House
On Park Slope's border with Gowanus, at Washington Park, sits the historic landmark The Old Stone House. This is an excellent stop for those with adventurous children, history-buff in-laws, or anyone just looking to take a break from eating their way through the neighborhood.
The house is a reconstruction of a 1699 house, marking the site of a former Dutch farmstead. It was where 2,000 British soldiers fought against a mere 400 Americans in the Battle of Brooklyn, one of the most significant fights in the Revolutionary War. Later, the space was used as the first clubhouse for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and in 1889 and 1890 the World Series was played at Washington Park.
Today, The Old Stone House is a museum sharing the history of the building with an interactive exhibit exploring the Battle of Brooklyn and engaging viewers about what it was like to live in Brooklyn from 1776 to 1783. The grounds also provide a serene garden filled with native plants, perfect for a contemplative moment of rest (especially if you go in the morning hours before kids fill the playground next door!).
6 minute walk from Union Street
9 minute walk from 4 Avenue - 9 Street
Stop into this whimsical shop, run by an art collective, to pick up a souvenir or gift that you won't likely find anywhere else. Self-described as "Pee Wee-esque," Leroy's Place is outfitted with giant puppets, fabric trees, a black-and-white checkerboard floor, and cartoony, monster-themed art that pops out at you, literally! A team of New Orleans artists descends bi-annually on the 7th Avenue store to install interactive puppets in the space, providing a fantastic experience for kids and adults alike. Store inventory—created by the collective's artists and like-minded artists around the globe—includes stuffed monsters, pop art jewelry, and artwork embellished with magical friends.
Leroy's also hosts improv, book release parties and readings, open house DJ sessions, and more in their back courtyard. Check out their calendar for more details about upcoming events.
2 minutes from 7 Avenue
Barbès is a neighborhood institution that’s part bar and music club, part exhibition hall, with a heavy dose of lounge vibes mixed in. It's a great place to have a classy cocktail, see a film screening, check out an experimental jazz band, and more. Opened by two French ex-pats, the name comes from a Parisian district known as that city’s cultural melting pot and beatnik hangout. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the venue has a continually packed schedule of music across genres and cultures, with everything from Western swing to Slavic soul and European R&B to Caribbean drums.
For more DineAWAY ideas:
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Guide To A Perfect Day In Crown Heights
A Local's Guide to the Bustling Neighborhood of Astoria
Staten Island Might Just Be the Next Great Culinary Destination
A Delicious Walking Tour of Arthur Ave in the Bronx