The Fitzcarraldo Dream
Ever try Northern Italian fare in Williamsburg east of Bedford Avenue? Maybe a tasty Ligurian pesto? Shocking as it sounds, it’s possible to do. In fact we’re here to tell you about just such a place that will knock your socks off. If you don’t like driving and don’t want to take a taxi, hop on the L train to Morgan Avenue.
Walk a few blocks and amid the many warehouses, industrial buildings, and abandoned lots covering the area, you’ll come across a venue with a truly special, welcoming air. Once inside, you’ll forget all about the neighborhood you just tramped through: you are indeed in the heart of post- industrial Brooklyn, a.k.a. Bushwick.
A fascinating location
Livestream—the famous webcasting platform—occupies a 30,000 square foot loft space in a former warehouse. On the first oor of the same building is the restaurant we want to tell you about. It’s called Fitzcarraldo.
Ready to be stunned? Inside you’ll find a venue with a mostly Northern Italian-inspired kitchen with roots in Liguria (you’ll also find Roman dishes and dishes that bring Naples to mind). The ambience is immediately enchanting. Before you is an enormous twelve-foot high window with iron bars. Fitzcarraldo also boasts a bar and Brooklyn-style open kitchen whose unexpected coziness will catch you by surprise.
Everything contributes to create a bistro feel: tile foors, iron and wood furniture, hanging plants, decorations made with delicious recycled (or, as they say at Fitzcarraldo, sustainable) pieces. You’ll also find this place suited for several different kinds of dining experiences: from quiet and intimate dinners to large groups of friend, from lavish brunches to simple breakfasts. The ambience is not the only thing that makes for a unique experience; so does the menu. The kitchen juggles various traditional infuences and hints of the avant-garde.
As we mentioned before, the place gets its inspiration from the Ligurian Riviera and the Italian Alps and they serve a lot of pesto, polenta, nebbiolo braised mushrooms and farinata, though you’ll also find their interpretation of the Roman dish cacio e pepe.
Managing partner Henry M. Rich (who also manages Rucola a few blocks away with his cousin and fellow Brooklynite Julian Brizzi and Chef Joe Pasqualetto) says his interest in the cuisine and culture of Northern Italy was sparked by the Slow Food Movement. Slow Food, an international organization headquartered in Piedmont, guarantees a very careful selection of ingredients. Coming from New York and the surrounding area, the food at Fitzcarraldo travels “zero kilometers” and is of the highest quality.
New Dreams, new Plans
“It’s only the dreamers who ever move mountains,” says the star of Fitzcarraldo. In Herzog’s film, the dreamer dreams of building a large opera house in a small village in the Amazon. Fitzcarraldo the restaurant has a dream too, which is to transform the restaurant into a restaurant-cum-arts and sustainability platform.
Though it will remain open for dinner on Friday and Saturday, Sunday through Thursday, the space will be used to pursue a few objectives in line with their values.
As Henry Rich tells us, “We have been inspired by the actions, however small, of writers, entrepreneurs, and activists who have made progress against income inequity and climate change through their actions. Up until now, we’ve kept our focus on serving healthy food for fair prices with a focus on lower carbon footprint plants. It’s simply not enough...”
So what else does Fitzcarraldo have in mind? First of all, starting in the spring, on the first Sunday of every month there will be talks on various subjects, continuing a series begun last year when they talked about global sustainability, the Paris COP21 conference, therapy, and wellness (speakers included Rich M. Harris as well as Dayna Tortorici of N+1, Alex Provan of Triple Canopy, and Max Schorr of Good Magazine).
These events will be accompanied by a ten- dollar-all-you-can-eat dinner as “a sustainable challenge” for the restaurant: food must be healthy, environmentally sustainable, delicious and cost less than ten dollars.
Secondly, they are launching a partnership with local art galleries and registered 501(c) (3) entities to offer discounts for events and meetups at Fitzcarraldo—they are working with Issue Project Room, N+1, Triple Canopy, React to Film and Slow Food among others (some events will be streamed live thanks to a partnership with Livestream.com).
Last but not least, Fitzcarraldo will be hosting pop-ups of innovative restaurants and bars from around the world—Rich is working with Cookies/Cream from Berlin on a pop-up in April. So check their website to keep tabs on what’s coming up. Those interested in finding out more about this original place— Italian inspired and New York styled—can write to [email protected] tzbk.com and [email protected] tzbk.com