THE LONGSHOREMAN ONCE A FAMED WATERFRONT TAVERN INTERPRETS MODERN ITALIAN IN A WAY THAT’S BOTH CREATIVE AND ACCESSIBLE
BY MICHAEL TULIPAN AND MATT SCANLON
Longshoreman Chef/Owner Michelle Ewan and Co-Owner Lisa Detwiler have known each other for over twenty years, having first met via their daughters’ preschool. Michelle, a native of South Africa, worked in restaurants in the UK and New York, and was responsible for revamping the menu at Heights Casino, a membership based squash club just two blocks from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Lisa has had a long career in real estate, and co owns Bar San Miguel on Smith Street with her husband, James Cramer (host of CNBC’s Mad Money), who is also an owner of The Longshoreman.
Michelle and Lisa had been looking to open a restaurant for years, and when Lisa found a former Italian restaurant on Columbia Street for rent, they took the plunge. The space, as it turned out, had a colorful history one anchored to the nearby waterfront. At one time it had been a bar named The Longshoreman, owned and operated by a man known locally as “Punchie.” The bar serviced ship loaders and unloaders with after hours beverages a few blocks from their dockyards place of work, so Michelle and Lisa decided to name in tribute. It opened late last fall.
The owners enlisted Executive Chef Kevin Noccioli (formerly of Masa and Craft) to oversee the kitchen, along with Michelle. Together, the two chefs put ingredients and techniques at the forefront, making most items in house, fermenting and pickling many for preservation and taking advantage of the restaurant’s large wood fired pizza oven.
Pastas are made in house, including the Tomato Gnocchi (its word origin debated, but likely from nocca, meaning “knuckle”) made of potato with tomato sauce folded in, then sautéed with black kale, tossed in an heirloom tomato sauce, and served with roasted maitake mushrooms, housemade ricotta, chili, and opal basil. Tagliatelle Cacio the Pepe, meanwhile, gets a sea urchin twist (adding umami and depth of flavor), while Pappardelle offers a take on Bolognese (made here with sausages and shiitake mushrooms) and the Carbonara features house cured and smoked bacon, egg yolks, and Parmesan.
Large plates showcase carefully sourced meats like free range Sasso chickens from Amish farms in Pennsylvania, a dry aged beef burger blend from Brooklyn butcher Dellapietra’s, and kurobuta pork from the Berkshires. The bone in Pork Chop spends one day in a brine that includes sherry vinegar, cloves, fennel seed, allspice, smoked paprika, sumac, and bay leaf. It is then grilled and glazed with Italian Malfy Gin, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, fennel seed, smoked paprika, and black pepper, and served with sautéed broccolini and fries. The Steak for Two comes with a house made whiskey yakitori glaze, made with Glenlivet single malt whisky, caramel, and jalapenos that were fermented together for five months, then slowly cooked with tamari soy sauce. Don’t forget to share some fresh bread, too, with rosemary, sea salt, ricotta della casa, and honey.
The interior was designed by architect Carlo Perry (of CCP Design+Build in Carroll Gardens), in collaboration with the owners. The modern space has clean lines and a cozy feel, with a long marble topped bar and extended banquette seating that lead to the pizza ovens in the back. High top tables look out onto the street, while custom chandeliers hang over the banquettes and marble top tables.
That pizza oven reaches up to 1,000°F, allowing chefs to deliver Neapolitan style pies in just two minutes flat. Fall additions include versions like Brussels Sprouts over creamy straciatella cheese, fragrant fresh herb salsa verde, and jalapeno; Vongole, with chopped steamed chowder clams and a brown butter cream sauce infused with oregano and white wine, plus roasted pancetta, fresh chopped garlic, pickled fennel, and fennel fronds; and Wild Mushroom, an abbondanza of roasted shiitake, maitake, royal trumpet, brown beech, and cremini varieties.
General Manager Brandon Torre oversees service as well as the beverage program, the latter focusing on recipes highlighting both local and global spirit brands and ingredients. The Longshoreman cocktail features Barrell Rye Batch 002, Punt e Mes, Amaro Averna, and Vicario Savage Cherry liqueur. Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice combines cucumber, basil, San Pellegrino Limonata, and Thomas Henry’s aromatic Slim Tonic. The Italian accented Amalfi Mule marries Malfy Gin, Aperol, citrus, peach, and ginger Kombrewcha (the original hard kombucha from Brooklyn), while Fire & Ash is a mix of Irish and Scotch whiskeys with a house made charred rosemary whiskey tincture, blood orange juice and jalapeno. An after dinner take on an Old Fashioned pairs Barrell Bourbon Batch 016, Amara Sicilian blood orange liqueur, espresso, and rosemary demerara syrup.
215 Columbia Street / 929.295.0285