It’s not easy to stand out on Vanderbilt Avenue just north of Prospect Park - a stretch that includes places like Olmsted, Maison Yaki, Faun, and Chuko - but LaLou does, thanks to one of the best natural wine programs in the city. The wine list at this narrow, white-walled spot includes some Eastern European varietals your wine store clerk has probably never heard of, as well as plenty of familiar options from famous regions in France and Italy. Whether you’re looking for Grand Cru Champagne, or you have a higher tolerance for barnyard aromas than Babe the pig, the very friendly staff will help you find something you’ll like. There’s also a straightforward food menu, and while the cheese plate and peppery saucisson are enjoyable snacks, there’s no need to go out of your way for the entrees, like a small portion of steak for $32, or roast chicken served in what tastes like caper juice. Instead, get drinks in the backyard or at the long bar with a date, and if you like each other (or the wine temporarily makes it seem that way), head to one of the many great spots up the street for dinner.
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Rose's serves elevated pub grub and an excellent cheeseburger in the original Franny's space, a couple blocks from the Barclays Center.
Vinegar Hill House
One of our favorite restaurants in Brooklyn, especially in the summer when their back garden is in full swing. Bring some bug spray, eat a pork chop.
The Farm on Adderley
The Farm on Adderley is a really good, comfortable restaurant in a neighborhood that seems to have relatively few of those.
More Italian spotsSee more
Bread And Salt
Bread And Salt is a BYOB pizza spot in Jersey City that serves some of our favorite slices around NYC.
The only thing that is keeping Rubriosa from being one of NYC’s classic Italian restaurants is time. Let’s eat vodka sauce pizza while we wait.
Una Pizza Napoletana
Una Pizza Napoletana is a pizza place on the LES that came back to New York after a stint in San Francisco.
Suggested by our writers
A Prospect Heights restaurant serving some of the most inventive, delicious food in New York City.
The Ten Bells
The Ten Bells is a natural wine bar on the Lower East Side that serves some good small plates and $1 Happy Hour oysters every day.
Miss Ada is a small, comfortable spot in Fort Greene with great Israeli food and an outdoor garden in the back.
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