"As in, Cousin Brucie?" - I cannot tell you how many times I heard this when I told people Elana and I were checking out Cobble Hill's new neighborhood Italian restaurant, Brucie, on 234 Court Street. I'm pretty sure the iconic radio personality of the 1960's and 70's had little to do with the inspiration behind the restaurant's name, yet one never knows. After some light research, I did discover that Cousin Brucie was, indeed, born somewhere in Brooklyn. Hmmm...
Well, if the joint was, in fact, named after Cousin Brucie, the similarities between the two entities are in name only. As our server told us, the interior and the overall theme of the restaurant were predominantly the chef's ideas. And, kudos to the chef because the vibe of the restaurant is very well done. It resembles a country deli, with an injection of cool. A pleasant equilibrium of detail without overkill, Brucie rewards the design minded patron with copper bar tops, jar enclosed light bulbs, antique restaurant equipment, and derriere contoured bar stools.
The menu is artfully printed on a rectangular piece of stationary, and categorizes their large and small plates under the appropriate and clever headings "Biggie" and "Smalls," respectively. Big ups to Brucie here. The menu changes every day from what we were told.
For our "smalls," Elana and I order Rice Balls and Crostini with crimini mushrooms and truffle oil. The rice ball is stuffed with their own homemade mozzarella and peas. It has a perfectly crispy breaded crust, and is centrally positioned in a sea of tasty tomato sauce. The sauce has a thicker than normal consistency to it, providing each bite with optimal conditions to playfully wade in marinara. The Crostini was of sizable portion - Two hefty hunks of bread splattered with a crimini puree, laced with generous amounts truffle oil and flavor (always a plus).
For our "biggies," Elana selects the housemade tagliatelle with sweet corn, brussels sprouts and tomato butter. It is topped with their homemade burrata (cut to Elana squealing with glee). The burrata has a mildly salty taste, with a faintly sour, oozy mid section. Props, Brucie. Also, the brussels sprouts have it goin' on. They have a substantial yet flaky feel to them, being fried. We love them. As for the sauce and tagliatelle, the feathery noodles are appreciated, but we are not crazy about the sauce, which feels a bit dominated by tomatoes.
My goats milk ricotta tortelloni with cranberry brown butter is similarly ok. High marks are awarded for the creamy, rich ricotta filling, as well as the homemade tortelloni. But the sauce was not doing much for us. It's of a wonderful, runny consistency considering its thick ingredients, yet it's a touch bland. Nonetheless, I still managed to wipe my plate clean. All of the dishes at Brucie are of very generous portion.
As for the bathrooms, Elana had this to say: "the farmhouse-modern decor of the seating area is echoed in the bathroom with poster art, and light switch and doorknob details. Dueling mirrors above the sink give you a look at both your good sides."
The Verdict - Brucie's environment kills it; a charming, original setting with detail, character, and...a store. Yes, one can even stop into Brucie's to purchase canned San Marzano tomatoes, among other quality goods. The food has promise, yet some (not all) of the dishes we experienced fell short of matching its mouth watering presentation and menu description.
Movie equivalent - Miami Vice