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Gargiulo's

2911 West 15th St., Brooklyn, NY - (718) 266-4891
Posted By Michael Stern on October 14, 2002 4:25 AM
Now, This is Italian! More precisely, it’s Neapolitan-Italian, and a style of big-city dining that gastronomes have come to know as Italian-American but is, in fact, unique to the Northeast United States. Here you come to eat dishes as humble as spaghetti and meatballs or as deluxe as lobster tail fra diavolo Indeed, lobster is very important at Gargiulo’s (which happens to be only yards from the Atlantic Ocean); big ones are held in a tank in the vestibule opposite the bar. Between six-dollar spaghetti entrees and twenty-dollar lobster are a vast number of preparations of veal, chicken, seafood, sausage and steak … and – oh, wow – glorious pastas.

For the pasta alone, we would list Gargiulo’s as a star in the firmament of brilliant Italian restaurants in the boroughs. The noodles themselves, whether meaty ribbons of linguine or slim strands of spaghettini, are al-dente delicious. On the linguine, we savored a luxurious white Bolognese sauce (“You get your meat AND Alfredo in one!” declared our friend George, the Brooklyn native who took us here); and the fine spaghettini was served Sorrentino style, which means laced with nuggets of juicy sirloin steak and chicken and sauced with nothing but garlic and oil.

Veal is big here, with twelve different varieties of cutlet on the menu … and that’s not including veal chops and the daily specials. After a barrage of appetizers that included mighty pasta e fagioli soup, baked clams and manicotti, we appreciated the simplicity of veal Milanese – thin, crisp and high flavored.

Located in an otherwise honky-tonk section of Coney Island (across the street from Nathan’s and a short distance away from one of the nation’s last remaining freak shows), Gargiulo’s is quite deluxe, its waiters outfitted in tuxedos, its tables covered with thick white linen. It’s a special-occasion weekend date place and a regular dinner haunt for people from surrounding neighborhoods and it has big rooms to the side and upstairs for banquets and weddings. We love it on a Saturday night when the pageant of customers is a great cross-section of New Yorkers, young and old, tough and tender, all gathering for a good time and a fabulous meal in the party atmosphere.

No longer is the main dining room umbrella’d by a huge plaster octopus (whose absence old timers never stop lamenting). Instead, overhead there is nothing but space – the upper regions of a high-ceilinged room that seems to add a happy largesse to the cacophonous dinner hour in this grand, nearly-century-old Brooklyn institution.
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