Lots of restaurants claim to serve comfort food. But they don’t have knishes or French bread pizza.
Brooklyn Bowl, an 80,000-square-foot, multi-level temple of live music, bowling, food and drink, is about to open at the Linq, the entertainment complex between the Quad and Flamingo casinos anchored by the 550-foot High Roller observation wheel. It’s a huge, versatile space, with so much going on that you might forget the menu is crafted by Bruce and Eric Bromberg, the brothers behind Blue Ribbon (in NYC and at Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan) and the original, smaller Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg. (Vegas is Bowl 3; they just opened the second in London in January.)
But you won’t forget, because they won’t let you. No matter if you’re watching Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe from a balcony box, throwing strikes on the upstairs or downstairs bowling lanes, or chilling and sipping at any of the bar/lounge spaces, the full menu is always available. (And it does remind you to eat with your non-bowling hand.)
So what’s to eat? The most comfortable of comfort foods, designed to hit the spot. “Really what we’ve always tried to do is make the stuff mom used to make, just make it better,” explained Bruce Bromberg. He took a break from preparing for the opening—everything should be in full swing on March 14—to provide the Weekly with an exclusive first taste of Brooklyn Bowl grub. Here’s what we munched:
Somehow, deviled eggs have become a trendy restaurant dish. The Brooklyn Bowl version is no-nonsense. “We realized very early on, after working with farm fresh eggs at other restaurants, that if you use really good, fresh eggs, you don’t really have to mix in tons of mayo,” Bromberg said. Every element in this simple, savory egg is made in-house, including the olive oil mayo (used sparingly) and the pickled jalapeño and Anaheim peppers. They’re creamy, spicy and addictive, and they might get upgraded; Bromberg said future toppings will include fried oysters and smoked trout. $7.50. Prices and dishes are still subject to change.
Potato and onion knish
It’s hard to find a great knish in Las Vegas, and Bromberg knows it. This version is the brothers’ attempt to replicate the ones they noshed as kids at the Yonah Schimmel bakery on Manhattan’s lower east side, though “this is more about my memory than the actuality,” he said. A traditional, slightly flaky dough wraps around blissful confit onion and potato goodness, somehow dense and light at the same time. Riding shotgun: deli mustard and sour cream. $10.
The San Gennaro
Brooklyn Bowl offers a variety of French bread pizzas, from the Classic (tomato, mozzarella, basil) to the Theresa (butternut squash, mushrooms, roasted garlic). This one gets its name and toppings (sausage and peppers) from the iconic San Gennaro festival the Brombergs attended with their food-obsessed father. Despite the fresh taste of fennel in the sausage and the impeccable bread from local Bon Breads, don’t think this is a fancy restaurant upgrade on the frozen food classic. Its true inspiration is Stouffer’s. “We don’t make fancy versions of things,” laughed Bromberg. $15.
Fried chicken dinner
The Brombergs’ fried chicken has become famous, but only now will Las Vegas eaters get a taste of the original recipe. The awesome, slightly spicy version at Blue Ribbon has a tweaked spice mix that lends itself to the Japanese fare at the Cosmo restaurant. The OG chicken, served at the brothers’ New York restaurants, is served at Brooklyn Bowl Vegas as a dinner with white bread, mashed potatoes and bacon-laden collard greens, or as 8, 12, 16 or 24-piece platters. (A 16-piece to split with friends while bowling sounds pretty incredible to me.) The crispy matzo meal crust is dusted with dried garlic, onion, thyme, basil, parsley, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt, a perfect outside matching the juicy inside. Fried chicken dinners are $18-$22.
Chocolate chip bread pudding
This might be the most decadent dessert on the menu, two mighty slabs of custard-y goodness studded with chocolate and topped with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. But there are plenty of other tempting sweets, from a Nutella bourbon shake to a Joseph James root beer float to a brownie a la mode. $11.50.