151 Atlantic Ave (nr Clinton)
City: Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 855-0051
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: Brooklyn Heights
It was Father's Day and dad's chance to pick the restaurant of his choice. I opted to take the family to Red Gravy in Brooklyn Heights. I had heard about their "Sunday Gravy," a sort of Sunday feast and thought I'd give it a whirl. As you enter the restaurant, on Atlantic Avenue, it proclaims PASTA, SALUMI and VINO in big, bold letters. Potted tomato plants in the window add to the feel that you are in for a traditional Italian meal. Inside, wooden ceiling beams, exposed brick and thick plank floors add a touch of warmth to what is a large space. The tables are also nicely spaced.
It was five in the afternoon and only one or two tables were taken. So, I was a little surprised when we were seated right at the entrance to the kitchen. Waiters stationed nearby, having little to do, were hovering nearby. It felt a little awkward. I wanted to move, but bit my tongue, instead focusing all of my attention on the dinner to come and didn't say anything. I ordered the signature "Sunday Gravy," which by the way has no price on the menu. But I was told it was service for one. It came with olives, arancini (rice balls), a salad, pasta and mixed meats. Most entrees are in the $24-to-$28 dollar range, so I assumed it was at a slightly higher price point. My wife ordered the Berkshire pork chop while my son had the house special, lamb chops. We also ordered an octopus appetizer.
The meal began with a plate of foccacia and a simple chickpea dip with diced red onion. It is wonderful and simple. We also shared my olives and arancini. The miniature rice balls are excellent, crispy on the outside with molten smoked mozzarella on the inside. Only two came with my dish, so we ordered another plate ($5). The arancini alone are worth a visit to the restaurant. The octopus with eggplant, while tender was rather lackluster. So was a salad of greens that arrived barely dressed.
My wife raved about her pork chop ($28) and with good reason. It was literally about two inches thick and prepared perfectly. The meat was cooked through, but still nice and juicy. It was served on a bed of farro and coated with a tasty apricot mostarda. My son's lamb chops were also well executed; a nice char on the outside with bright pink meat on the inside. But at $36 the chops were rather puny and deserved more than a side of three baby-beet halves. Then there was the signature Sunday Gravy. It is made with four different types of meats smothered in a slow-braised meat sauce. And while it's not the most attractive dish I've seen, it is tasty, especially the short rib which was fall-off-the-bone tender. It was accompanied by a single meatball, half a spicy sausage and a small piece of braciole. Surprisingly the pasta was the disappointment arriving barely warm and gummy, which could have been forgiven, except when I found out that Sunday Gravy carried a $48 price tag. I could have bought an entire pig at that price.
Add in a few cocktails and two orders of connolis at $11 apiece, including one that was burnt, and we were looking at a $225 tab minus the tip. That made my Father's Day a little less happy.
Review By: Thomas Rafael