We recently went on a trip back in time at some of the restaurants in the North Heights. Now it’s time to start doing the same down on Montague Street. What was there before today’s eateries? What do the owners want you to order if you stop by? Let’s find out!
Our first stop will be Teresa’s Restaurant (80 Montague Street – Yelp! profile).
According to owner Teresa Brzozowska (yes, there is a Teresa!), it was a dry cleaners before she opened the restaurant in 1989.
Brzozowska is originally from Gdansk, Poland. She came to America in 1980 and settled in Williamsburg, where she has lived ever since. She had what she described as “life experience in the food business.” She worked in delis (German, Jewish, Polish, French, and American) and, in 1985, she opened Teresa’s in the East Village (on 1st Avenue between 6th and 7th). She had some customers and friends who lived in Brooklyn Heights and she found Montague to be a “nice street” and opened the second location. The original bit the dust in 2007, but the second incarnation is still going strong 25 years on. Brzozowska loves the support of the public and said being a “neighborhood place makes business very stable.”
What The Owner Says To Order:
Appetizer: Chicken soup
Entrée: Cheese and blueberry blintzes
Up next, we don’t have to go far. It’s on to Heights Café (84 Montague Street – website).
Buildings Department records from 1930 list the first floor as simply “stores.” As of 1940, the second floor was being used as a school. A 1976 document called the “Montague Street Revitalization” listed a York School, as well as an antique store. As of 1967m it was the Plymouth Pharmacy. For the 27 years prior to 1995, the first floor was the Promenade Restaurant, a staple of the area. It even had its own postcards!
Eventually it closed and the space became available. That caught the eye of Greg Markman, who opened Caffe Buon Gusto up the block in 1992 (he sold his interest in it over a decade ago). Markman teamed up with Joe Secondino, who was an accountant at ABC and with whom he’s been friends with since they were seventh graders at JHS 281 (now IS 281) in Bensonhurst, and, on May 15, 1995, opened Heights Café on the corner of Montague and Hicks.
Joe Secondino and Greg Markman. Photo by Evan Bindelglass
While they run the day-to-day, Markman’s father Martin and brother Glenn (the real estate brains) are also partners in the restaurant. Greg Markman always loved the corner and said it needed “something special.” Since then (with the exception of a closure from this January to April for a remodeling and menu sprucing up), they’ve been serving “something for everyone.” “We love our customers,” he said. “[Some of them see the restaurant as] an extension of their living room.” Secondino called them “friends.”
They have had some celebrity customers. Paul Giamatti stops in sometimes, as do Jennifer Connelly and her husband, Paul Bettany. Also spotted have been Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Willem Dafoe, and Susan Sarandon. Markman even got a photo with “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” star and Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Greg Markman with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Photo courtesy Greg Markman.
What The Owners Say To Order:
Fried Chicken at Heights Cafe. Photo by Evan Bindelglass
The Southern Boneless Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, and coleslaw. If you are worried about boneless chicken being dry, stop. It isn’t dry and it is full of flavor, as are the mashed potatoes. It is so easy to go wrong with coleslaw, but this was very well-balanced. If you want a little extra creaminess, it’s on the bottom. The gravy is wonderful, but everything else is so great already that you might forget to make use of it. Try to remember.
Markman and Secondino also own Dellarocco’s Pizza around the corner (214 Hicks Street – website). They opened that in 2012. In 1976, it was listed as a hair stylist and from 1981 to 2011 it was home to the gift shop Overtures.