What's Missing From the Brooklyn Artisanal Food Scene


From top left: McClure's pickles; Mast Brothers, head butcher Tom Mylan of Marlow & Sons

The New York Times' Oliver Schwaner-Albright chronicles the burgeoning Brooklyn artisanal food scene in today's Dining section. The Serious Eats New York crew and many other blogs have been following the exploits of the Mast Brothers, the Marlow & Sons crew and Wheelhouse Pickles for awhile now, so it's good to see the Times recognizing this borough's talents.

That said, I think Schwaner-Albright missed a few salient points. First, he neglected to mention that Brooklyn had an almost century-long tradition of producing first-rate handmade foods before any of the new artisans found their way to doing so.

Bread bakers, sausage makers, and pizza makers have been doing their thing in Brooklyn since Anthony Pero opened Totonno's in 1924. Maybe they weren't using organic ingredients, but they had the finely honed sense of craft and obsessive dedication to quality that these new guys certainly share.

And it must be said that we have lost many of these handcrafted food folks to the ravages of time and modernity, so it is thrilling to hear about, see, and taste the food made by this new generation of artisans.

Secondly, I wish that Schwaner-Albright had mentioned that the younger Brooklyn generation's can-do spirit (along with their relatively easy access to markets and our palates) means Serious Eaters often taste the fruits of these purveyors' labor before they have truly mastered their crafts.

I'm sure the salami at Prime Meats is going to be good, but I think that its co-owners Frank Castronovo and and Frank Falcinelli (of the delicious Frankies Spuntino restaurants in Carroll Gardens and the Lower East Side), would be the first to tell you that it's going to be awhile before they reach the level of Manhattan's Salumeria Biellese, where the three founding families have brought hundreds of years of sausage-making craft and tradition to their charcuterie and salumi.

It takes awhile to get good at making this stuff, in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or anywhere else for that matter. That said, it's still good to see these guys paving a new path.