First, the Snob goes Snobnobbin' at a local bakery/take-out place, now this! Debra Kirschner is a writer-filmmaker best known for her indie feature THE TOLLBOOTH and a local gourmand who wants to encourage fellow PLG residents to try neighborhood eateries by offering to try them all first and give a full report to readers of the Q. More on Debra at www.debrakirschner.com.
For many of us who watched as Gino opened his restaurant next door to his long running pizza place, you had to wonder if and when it'd catch on But he stuck it out, and now I frequently ride by and see the place fairly busy. Cue drum roll...the first of what we hope will be many happy returns from the Prospect Lefferts Gourmand (PLG):
Spotlight on Gino’s Tratoria and Brick Oven Pizza
For 27 years Gino’s has been serving delicious Italian fare on Flatbush Ave near Lincoln Road. Beginning with one storefront that was primarily a pizza place and eventually expanding to include a sit-down Trattoria, this restaurant has survived and thrived through numerous shake-ups in the neighborhood. You get the feeling that no matter where PLG is headed, this restaurant will stay exactly the same. And that is a very good thing! This is the type of Italian restaurant every neighborhood needs, a place you can bring anyone to; kids, parents, grandparents, friends from college, relatives from the ‘burbs, and even Manhattanites will easily enjoy traditional Italian dishes like Chicken Marsala, Chicken Francaise, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Veal Parmigiana, Shrimp Marinara, Lasanga and my favorite, Chicken Pizzaiola. Everything is delicious and done exactly right. The portions are huge – great for sharing or a doggie bag AKA next day’s lunch. There are terrific daily specials like the Red Snapper Ihad the other day – fresh and cooked perfectly – tender and tasty – without any fancy bells and whistles that I usually find off-putting like heavy cream sauces or artisanal pickled whatever. Just the real deal.
Gino’s feels authentic through and through from the moment you walk in and are greeted by the Italian waiter, to the fresh warm foaccia bread baskets brought to you soon after and the welcome presence of Gino himself – the owner, who wants to know what everyone in your party is ordering and will to speak to you extensively about what you might like. And he will stop by later in the meal to make sure you are happy!
I highly recommend asking Gino about his early years in the neighborhood. He has some hilarious stories. I have no idea how many of them are true – but when I’m looking for a fun evening out, entertaining is way more important to me than true.
Gino’s has live music some evenings, which is always enjoyable and never loud enough to overpower dinner conversation. There is a fun bar in the front where locals socialize and always seem to be smiling and laughing. The pizza place next door is great for a slice or a hero and both the pizza place and trattoria deliver.
Definitely give Gino’s a shot. I bet it will remind you of the best Italian restaurant you went to as a kid. And if you grew up in Prospect Lefferts Garden, it IS that wonderful restaurant you went to as a kid!
- Debra Kirschner