Move over, Manhattan! Today’s Brooklyn isn’t just a day trip, it demands a proper stay. Having emerged over the past decade-plus as a mecca for hipsters (and a frequent location for HBO’s High Maintenance and Girls), Williamsburg in particular represents an exciting, edgy, and sleek zone of cool niche businesses, craft beer and booze, shiny new housing, and, over the past few years, a tidy cluster of chic boutique hotels from which to explore (and sleep off a hangover!).
The William Vale (111 N. 12th St. Tel: 718-631-8400. www.thewilliamvale.com), opened in late 2016, literally stands apart from the rest. A strikingly designed resort-style complex, all guest rooms feature open-air balconies to take in views of Brooklyn’s booming landscape or Manhattan just across the water. There’s a 60-foot outdoor pool and adjacent terrace; elevated Vale Park with an Airstream food truck serving burgers, fries, and a shandy fashioned with frozen lemonade; chef Andrew Carmellini’s Leuca, an outstanding Southern Italian restaurant; and the gorgeous 22nd-floor Westlight rooftop bar, which offers superb craft cocktails, bites, and, of course, Instagram-ready Manhattan views.
The William Vale is also home to dapper, openly gay Senior Group Sales Manager Troy Henricks, who previously spent four years with W Hotels. “Since the William Vale was under construction, I was always intrigued by the design of the building,” says the Brooklynite, “and once I learned it was going to be a hotel, I was even more excited. The fact I’m able to work at such a beautiful property on a daily basis is something I enjoy the most, and Williamsburg offers a large number of well-rated restaurants, party venues, and very friendly gay bars!” Here Hendricks recommends some of his favorites in Williamsburg and throughout the borough.
What are Brooklyn’s coolest cocktail spots?
Our rooftop bar, Westlight (111 N. 12th St. Tel: 718-307-7100. www.westlightnyc.com). Not only is the city skyline view amazing, but the cocktails are delicious. A couple of my favorites are the Spring Fling with Leblon Chacaca, St. Germain, Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka, Suze Aperitif, and lime; and the Self Starter with gin, vodka, Cocchi Americano apertivo, apricot liqueur, and an absinthe spritz. Also, Donna (27 Broadway. Tel: 646- 568-6622. www.donnabklyn.com), located right under the Williamsburg Bridge. They have a large cocktail menu and also offer frozen drinks and ‘share’ sizes. My favorites are the Solar Hex with Blanco tequila, St. George Green Chile, Ancho Reyes, Oloroso sherry, pineapple juice, lemon and Peychauds; and the frozen strawberry forsé.
What about the most awesome restaurants in Brooklyn?
There are so many restaurants that offer literally every cuisine. Don’t eat at any fast food restaurants or “famous” pizza places like Grimaldi’s, because there are so many great local places. Café Mogador (133 Wythe St. Tel: 718-486-9222. www.cafemogador.com/williamsburg), for classic Moroccan, is my favorite, but they do not take reservations, so there’s typically a wait. My ideal dinner would consist of the hummus, tabouleh, falafel, and chicken kebab. Blanca at Roberta’s (261 Moore St. Tel: 347-799- 2807. www.blancanyc.com) offers a chefs table for $195 per person and includes up to 23 courses and changes daily. Roberta’s also offers a more casual `a la carte experience, and their wood-fired pizza is the main menu item. My favorite starter would be a stracciatella, their homemade cheese produced from buffalo milk, and my favorite pizza is the Beastmaster. For something a little heavier, their Oxtail Ragù is delicious. Peter Luger (178 Broadway. Tel: 718-387- 7400. www.peterluger.com) is an oldschool classic steak house that opened its doors in 1887, and Bensonhurst’s L&B Spumoni Garden (2725 86th St. Tel: 718- 449-1230. www.spumonigardens.com) is the best in Brooklyn for an old-school Sicilian square pizza slice. And, of course, The William Vale’s Italian restaurant, Leuca (Tel: 718-581-5900. www.leuca.com). I don’t think there’s one thing on the menu I don’t like, especially the sheep’s milk ricotta with hot honey and garlic starter and Mafaldine pasta entrée.
Who serves the greatest weekend brunch?
My favorite spot is Egg (109 N. 3rd St. Tel: 718-302-5151. www.eggrestaurant.com), and I recommend the pancakes with maple bacon or two organic eggs. The atmosphere’s great and the staff is super-friendly. It’s not bottomless, but they do large mimosa carafes at a great price. And not only does Roberta’s have an amazing dinner menu, their brunch is equally so. Their sticky buns are to die for, as well as the sweet potato with a fried egg, ropini, jalapeño, and chimichurri.