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Pastry chef Karen DeMasco is living the sweet life. By day, she's in the kitchen at Locanda Verde alongside fellow Ohioan Andrew Carmellini, where she's whipping up seemingly simple yet inventively flavored desserts like her signature maple budino. When she goes home (right next door to the new Nets stadium), she's taking her husband and two daughters out for pizza, ice cream, or burgers and hot dogs—without ever having to leave the neighborhood.
Read on for Karen's droolworthy tour of Prospect Heights.
Burger: I love the cheeseburgers from Bark: nice soft buns, great pickles, tasty burger, great onion rings. My kids love the hot dogs and milkshakes.
Sandwich: If you didn't know about City Sub you would walk right by. Great sandwiches, meat and cheese sliced fresh for each one, with lovely toasted rolls and lots of fixings. Like a Subway but 1000X better! Only visit if you have some time, since they are not fast, and will close as soon as they run out of bread each day.
Pizza: I love Cataldo's. The owner came from Nino's in Carroll Gardens. It's a nice, family-run joint that serves great pizzas from their wood burning oven. My favorite is "the Cataldo" with prosciutto and arugula.
Coffee: Gorilla Coffee makes nice lattés and cappuccinos, but the cold-brewed iced coffee that gets me.
Ice Cream: Ample Hills Creamery is a great neighborhood ice cream parlor. They have a rotating selection of flavors, including some of my favorites: vanilla malted (malt ice cream with chopped up malted milk balls), gooey yellow cake, and stout with pretzels. They also serve ice cream with a hot, fresh waffle, which is the best. They have a bike attached to an old-fashioned ice cream maker and have birthday parties for kids (or adults) where you can make and churn your own ice cream. My daughter Mary had a party here and it was FUN!
Delivery: Taro Sushi has a sister restaurant in Japan. They have amazing warm, slightly vinegary rice and super fresh fish. It's the best sushi around, hands down, and the delivery is quick.
Date night: Rucola is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. It's seasonal, market-driven food with a small menu and a comfortable room and bar. I love the rigatoni and the duck, but the menu changes frequently, and I have always found something delicious.
Bagel: I love Bergen Bagel. They are always busy, but they make fresh bagels all day and you can usually get a warm one. They also make "flagels" (flattened out bagels), which make awesome sandwiches, in my opinion.
Breakfast: I often grab something from Sun in Bloom on the way to work. It's healthy vegan food that actually tastes good. I love their tofu scramble and spicy lemonade.
Can't-miss neighborhood spot: Chuko is right around the corner, and they make delicious ramen! They also serve Sixpoint beer and the most amazing brussels sprouts I have ever had, super crispy with pickled jalapenos and peanuts. It sounds weird, but trust me, they're soooo good.
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