Anyone who knows me, knows I am a proud native New Yorker. I love everything about New York City, so much so that it makes me a little sad whenever I have to tell people that I now live in New Jersey with my fiancée. Love makes you do crazy things. In truth, Jersey with its easy commute to Manhattan, oddly cheery inhabitants, bike friendly lanes and spacious apartments has grown on me, but the siren song of my hometown will always be there.
So, when I was invited by Live Like A Local Tours to try their Williamsburg Bites food tour, I decided I was up for a weekend NYC adventure. Since I grew up in Harlem, I thought this would be a fun way to explore and learn a little more about Brooklyn and try out a few new food spots. Plus, the press release/invite sounded like it was written by a total hipster and promised to show me “hidden wonders” and Brooklyn’s “creative charm,” so I figured it would turn out to be a great story no matter how the tour went.
We met outside of a popular Williamsburg restaurant (my fiancée tagged along with me) and kicked off the tour. Our tour guide turned out to have the right amount of historical knowledge, food savvy and sports humor to make him completely charming. By our first stop at Best Pizza, I was totally digging the tour.
At the pizzeria, we not only tried two of the houses most popular slices (a red sauce and an all white), but also got to speak to the owner, Frank Pinello and learn more about its history. The pizzeria use to be a bread bakery and Pinello uses the century old wood-burning oven to make his pies. Pinello grew up in Brooklyn and learned how to cook from his grandmother.
After graduating from culinary school and working at restaurants and chains around the city, Pinello decided to bring his flare back to Brooklyn. He opened Best Pizza in 2010 and has been turning out some of the best slices in city ever since. It’s no wonder that this was the first stop on the Tour. It was definitely some of the best pizza that I’ve had in the city (and I’ve had a lot of NYC pizza in my life to compare). Totally worth a trip on the “L” train to grab a slice and meet this food-preneur.
From there, we hit a series of independent food, coffee and dessert spots that were all really amazing. I was also really impressed by the fried chicken and biscuits at Pies N Thighs. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try any pie, but am looking forward to going back and correcting that oversight. The comfort food spot was opened in 2006, by two transplant chefs and has racked up a number of “best of” awards while becoming a neighbor staple.
Over the course of our three hour tour (our tour time ran over the advertised 2.5 hours), we stopped in five stellar food spots, explored graffiti artwork, admired and discussed the impact of the Williamsburg Bridge, took in brilliant sights of Manhattan from the pier and had tons of laughs with our group.
The Tour provided just the right amount of food, fun, education and exploration to make me feel both at home and the joy of discovering something new. I really loved learning more about Williamsburg and being able to connect with the amazing entrepreneur-owners and chefs at each stop.
We had such a good time that my fiancée and I decided to buy Tour tickets for some family members for their upcoming birthdays. I’m looking forward to comparing notes and finding out which food stops are their favorites. I’m also looking forward to showing off my favs to my tourist friends when they visit. I am a NYC local after all :).
– à bientôt
Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress