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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights, Food, History

Heights History: A Look Into The Past Of Some Montague Street Restaurants

September 19, 2014

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).

Teresa’s Restaurant. Photo by Evan Bindelglass

According to owner Teresa Brzozowska (yes, there is a Teresa!), it was a dry cleaners before she opened the restaurant in 1989.

80 Montague Street, 1967. Photo courtesy NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

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

ARCHIVE DOCUMENTS: 1988 Certificate of Occupancy | 2000 Certificate of Occupancy (PDFs)

Up next, we don’t have to go far. It’s on to Heights Café (84 Montague Street – website).

Heights Cafe. Photo by Evan Bindelglass

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!

84 Montague Street, 1967. Photo courtesy NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

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.

Dellarocco’s Pizza. Photo by Evan Bindelglass

ARCHIVE DOCUMENTS: 1930 Certificate of Occupancy | 1940 Certificate of Occupancy | 1972 Certificate of Occupancy (PDFs)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights, Food

Are Those Real People Or Sock Puppets Raving On Yelp About A New Brooklyn Heights Eatery?

October 24, 2013

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a crack down on businesses hiring firms to provide fake rave Yelp reviews recently, fining some as much at $100,000. The practice is called “astroturfing” and black hat marketing firms offer the service of “sock puppet” reviewers to restaurants to boost their overall Yelp ratings.

As any casual user of the service knows, there always seem to be 5 star reviews for establishments of questionable quality. The Guardian has a great piece on how to spot fakes. Hyperbole, naturally, is one factor. We’ve added another – a cluster of reviewers claiming to be from another state. How about several reviews from another state?

Take the case of recent posts regarding Montague Street’s Taperia, which just opened this month. Three reviewers claiming to be from Florida have raved about the place. One account was created in the last two weeks.


Sure, it’s totally plausible that these folks are real and truly love Taperia and that the owners of the establishment have no involvement whatsoever with their online activity. As a matter of fact, it would be great for the neighborhood if those reviewers were really that jazzed about the place.

You decide if this one from “Michelle V.” feels legit:

A wonderful place for tapas in the city. The new Chef Hector Diaz did an amazing job with the new look and menu. Gotta say its worth a night out, every night! Yummy!

Or how about “Esteban O.”, another Floridian:

Driving thru and needed a “tapas fix”. The scallops and foie gras were EXCELLENT! The roasted figs were perfectly done. We washed it down with Cornessa 2008 and Rias Baixas. Looking forward to my next time here at ‘Taperia”. This chef really knows what he’s doing!

Reviewer “Undercover A” seems legit to us, mostly because their other neighborhood reviews ring true:

Meatballs are good, filled with manchego cheese, maybe a bit chewy. Chorizo is OK too. Solid wine selection ($8/9 by the glass). Flights at the bar would be a great idea. Very friendly environment and plenty of energy. Shout out to Cassie … We need this place desperately in the Heights! Welcome!

Then there’s “Matthew P.” who we not only know in real life, but is an occasional contributor to BHB:

Atrociously bad food. Imagine if a diner served tapas and you’d have a good idea of the quality and flavor. Nothing was good. Nothing. Not a single thing. Really. I kid you not.

Worst sangria I’ve ever had and ever will have. You know you’re in trouble when it comes out in a pint glass. With each sip I marveled how it not only tasted nothing resembling sangria, but was so plain.

Oh, and the prices are quite high for such small plates. Montague Street’s curse of bad restaurants continues. We must have been very bad in a past life.

Don’t say you weren’t warned. And it also appears some of these 5 star ratings from first-time reviewers are bogus.

Also, Yelp has filtered at least 3 reviews of the eatery so far.

Recently, a Harvard Business School study claims that 20% of Yelp reviews are fake.

While it’s unclear who is behind the hyperbolic raves for this and many other restaurants on Yelp, this story wouldn’t be complete without shedding light on what restaurateurs think about the service who solicit ad dollars from them. In a word – extortion. Yelp, of course, denies this.

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web