Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Michael Chernow's Williamsburg


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Michael Chernow is a kid at heart. He's half of the duo that opened a mostly-meatball restaurant with a major impact. The Meatball Shop (slogan: "We Make Balls"), which recently published a cookbook, has locations on the Lower East Side and in Williamsburg, as well as an upcoming West Village outpost. Along with Daniel Holzman, his best friend since the age of 13, he serves up a customizable menu of old-school comfort food: meatball heroes and sliders, ice cream sandwiches, root beer floats, and beer served in milk bottles.

The born-and-raised New Yorker goes for tried-and-true childhood favorites in his own Williamsburg neighborhood, but for a real-deal pizza that reminds him of simpler days, he'll walk the few extra blocks to Bushwick—maybe stopping for an ice cream cone on the way.

Michael's Picks

Pizza by the slice:
I love Best Pizza. It's a simple, delicious slice of New York pizza. It's so rare to find newer pizza places that are opening in New York that serve by the slice.

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Roberta's margherita pie. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Pizza pie:
I like Roberta's. Their plain margherita is delicious. My wife and I like to go and share pizza and a salad.

Burger, cheap:
I love the Pop's burger; it reminds me of my childhood. It's as simple as it gets—just a straight-up grilled burger.

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Diner burger. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Burger, fancy:
Diner's burger is incredible—it's juicy, the bun is delicious. It's like a perfect burger.

Coffee:
I'm a big fan of Oslo. I buy their beans to brew at home. I rarely buy coffee out.

Bagel:
I get an everything bagel with cream cheese and tomato from Bagelsmith. That's my all-time favorite. I've been eating it since third grade. My second-favorite is a raisin bagel with cream cheese and jelly.

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The "Captain's Daughter" from Saltie. [Photograph: Kathy YL Chan]

Sandwich:
I like Saltie. They use really awesome, esoteric combinations. They're all delicious and pretty rich.

Delivery food:
We always order Taco Chulo. I get the Ensalada de Temporada with fish, and guacamole and chips. They do incredible fish tacos, too.

Breakfast:
The egg sandwich at egg is definitely worth waiting on line for. I also like the Roebling Tea Room for brunch. My wife and I always get the granola and fruit. They do an incredible drunk beans, and they have this humongous pancake that's one of the best things to eat there.

Ice cream:
The Van Leeuwen ice cream truck is delicious. They do a lavender ice cream which I love, served in a cone.

Thai takeout:
I always order the chicken green curry from Tai Thai. It's super spicy and painful the next day. I wash it down with a Martinelli's apple cider—I love that shit.

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La Superior's shrimp tacos. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Mexican:
La Superior serves some of the best Mexican food in New York. It's simple, direct, inexpensive, and authentic. My wife and I get the Pescado Pibil, and I love the chipotle shrimp tacos.

Falafel:
Oasis is amazing; they fry the falafel to order. I get the works: tahini, hummus, hot sauce, onions...and the harissa is so good.

Wine, beer, or cocktail bar:
I love Hotel Delmano. Their old 1920's New York style is aesthetically similar to the Meatball Shop. I don't drink, but when I go there, the bartender always cooks up something non-alcoholic for me, like a fresh ginger ale or limeade.

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Blue Ribbon fried chicken. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Late night eats:
Eight years ago, I would have said Kellogg's Diner, but now that I don't stumble into the diner drunk anymore, it's always nice to go to the Blue Ribbon at Brooklyn Bowl after a round of bowling. Their fried chicken is great. I don't do it very often, but when I do, it's delicious.

Date night:
My wife and I go to Marlow & Sons, which is just an all-around great restaurant, with a dark, quaint vibe.

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Fette Sau's brisket and pork butt. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Can't-miss neighborhood spot:
Fette Sau, for sure. The pulled pork is ridiculous. I go there and I really freakin' do it. The beef brisket and the pork ribs are amazing. All the sides are delicious too: the slaws, the spicy pickles, and the baked beans. I like to eat outside there in the summer. It's best to go at 10 at night, because from 7 to 9 there's always a line out onto the street.

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