Restaurant listings for the BT Dining Guide are written Pamela Robin Brandt (
). Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but please call ahead to confirm information. Icons ($$$) represent estimates for a typical meal without wine, tax, or tip. Hyphenated icons ($-$$$) indicate a significant range in prices between lunch and dinner menus, or among individual items on those menus.
$= $10 and under
$$$$$= $50 and over
Café Prima Pasta
414 71st St.
Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Opened in 1993 (with 28 seats), the Cea family’s now-sprawling trattoria has added inventive chef Carlos Belon and modern menu items, including fiocchi rapera (pear/cheese-filled pasta purses with truffled prosciutto cream sauce), an unlikely (soy sauce and parmesan cheese?) but luscious Italian/Japanese fusion tuna carpaccio, and fresh-fruit sorbets. But traditionalists needn’t worry. All the old favorites, from the café’s famed beef carpaccio to eggplant parm and pastas sauced with Argentine-Italian indulgence, are still here and still satisfying. $$$-$$$$
1130 Normandy Dr.
Formerly the Peruvian restaurant Pachamama, this space is now both Peruvian and Venezuelan -- but not fusion. The Venezuelan sisters who run the place keep dishes true to country. Most Big Food comes from Peru: fresh ceviches, classic cooked entrées. But it’s the Venezuelan breakfast/snack items that keep us coming, especially signature cachapas, somewhat similar to arepas but harder to find in restaurants. These moist pancakes, made from ground corn kernels instead of just corn meal, are folded over salty white cheese for a uniquely bold balance of sweetness and savor. $-$$
Lou’s Beer Garden
7337 Harding Ave., 305-704-7879
“Beer garden” conjures up an image of Bavarian bratwurst, lederhosen, and oompah bands -- none of which you’ll find here. It’s actually a hip hideaway in the New Hotel’s pool-patio area, a locals’ hangout with interesting eclectic fare and a perennial party atmosphere. Especially recommended: delicately pan-fried mini-crab cakes served with several housemade sauces; hefty bleu cheese burgers with Belgian-style double-cooked fries; blackened “angry shrimp” with sweet/sour sauce; fried fresh sardines. And of course much beer, a changing list of craft brews. $$-$$$
908 71st St.
This friendly café’s décor is indeed playfully red, and the “cine” refers to vintage films projected unobtrusively on a wall. But the main attraction is the French and Moroccan food, both genres as authentically homey as you’ll find in the homes of those cuisines. For hearty eaters, exotically spiced tagine stews, like lamb with prunes, are the way to go. Grazers will find Rouge’s bocaditos (evocatively French saucisson sec, or Moroccan merguez sausage with grilled onions and hot harissa sauce, both on crusty Boulart bread) irresistible -- as are housemade desserts. $$-$$$
The Wine Market
908 71st St.
This rustic-chic wine shop, tapas bar, and restaurant is the sort of place that every emerging neighborhood needs. The wine stock isn’t huge but the selection is thoughtful, with many bottles priced from $10 to $20. Take it home or pay a small corkage fee and drink on-premises over a meal centered on typical Parisian bistro entrées like steak or moules frites (the latter regularly available all-you-can-eat). If you’d prefer going the tapas bar route, highlights include a silky cognac/truffle chicken liver mousse and battered shrimp with remoulade sauce to make your own po’boy crostinis. $$-$$$