A guide to Brooklyn dining

Last updated 09:11 19/07/2013

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You can stuff yourself with tacos and hot dogs at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn's mammoth new sports and entertainment arena.

Or you can have a grown-up meal in the neighbourhood, where the bar for culinary excellence is cloud-high with the Michelin-starred Brooklyn Fare and Blanca.

Here's a list of places my colleagues and I recommend for a pit stop before or after an event.

Ganso

Restaurateur Harris Salat and chef Ryuji Irie present Japanese comfort food in a space with soothing cedar wood-clad walls in downtown Brooklyn.

Small plates include the crispy gyoza pot stickers, chicken wings and a flavour-packed salt-cured Boston mackerel filet.

Ganso's bowls of noodles are worshipped by ramen devotees. They include a decadent short rib soup, a vegetarian option and the silky, spicy miso ramen with pork belly and floating wafers of tender pork shoulder.

At 25 Bond St.

Prospect

Prospect's menu reflects the seasons and the weather. If you have time to spare, try the US$80 ($101) tasting menu (US$125 with wine parings) crafted by executive chef Kyle McClelland and chef de cuisine Vinson Petrillo. Got 30 minutes? Try their pressure cooker-tenderized octopus appetizer finished off over Japanese binchotan charcoals.

At 773 Fulton St.

Red Gravy

The dishes served up by chef and A Voce alumna Ayesha Nurdjaja at this newcomer on Atlantic Avenue evoke a taste of Sicily or Calabria. We loved the tuna crudo with carrot puree.

On the pasta menu: orecchiette with lamb meatballs, cavatelli with nettle puree, and a chestnut reginetti with a rabbit ragu. Current main course options include a tasty porgy.

Many locals favour the special-of-the-day menu and its Wednesday star attraction, the pasta and meatballs.

At 151 Atlantic Ave.

James

Tucked in a century-old brownstone, James elevated dining options for the village-sized Prospect Heights four years before the Nets arrived a few blocks away. The menu usually offers seafood, pan-roasted chicken and hangar steak. The kale salad comes dressed up with red quinoa, smoked almonds, ricotta cheese and egg.

A favourite of those in a hurry or with a hangover is a US$16 half-pound grass-fed Angus burger with hand-cut herb fries.

At 605 Carlton Ave.

Franny's

The ultra-popular Franny's, which has moved a few blocks down Flatbush Avenue from its original home, is the place for pastas with simple and seasonal ingredients.

There are people who dream of the mafalde with pork shank ragu. The pizzas range from standards such as tomato-basil to the savoury anchovy and caper pie with dandelion greens.

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Seats are hard to come by on game nights, but Franny's takes reservations for parties of 8 to 12.

At 348 Flatbush Ave.

General Greene

This Fort Greene neighbourhood favourite serves small plates of three-cheese macaroni, manila clams and rock shrimp and grits, which trigger memories of home cooking when mother was on a roll.

Popular entrees include a US$16 burger, a hyper-crusty buttermilk fried chicken and branzino with lemon and salsa verde. The General decorates its kale with currants, pumpkin seeds and pecorino cheese.

At 229 DeKalb Ave.

Geido, Taro

Geido's gregarious chefs serve fabulous sushi and sashimi. Its hat-tip to the president, the Obama Roll, is stuffed with tuna, salmon yellowtail, scallion and eel sauce.

If Geido is packed, Taro down the street covers all the bases with a full sushi menu and delights such as Wagyu tataki with ponzu sauce and Udon noodles.

Geido is at 331 Flatbush Ave and Taro is at 244 Flatbush Ave.

Rucola

Rucola in Boerum Hill has solid Italian cuisine in cosy digs that have a touch of romance.

You can't go wrong with Rucola's pickled fennel antipasti and the pastas, which change weekly.

At 190 Dean St.

Other recommendations close to Barclays:

Madiba, 195 DeKalb Ave., serving South African cuisine.

No. 7, 7 Greene Ave., with edgy selections such as broccoli tacos and chicken tortilla casserole.

The Smoke Joint, 87 S. Elliot Pl., for ribs, pulled pork and brisket.

Convivium Osteria, 68 5th Ave., where Italian cuisine meets flavours from the Iberian peninsula.

The Vanderbilt, 570 Vanderbilt Ave., for gastro pub fare.

Roman's, 243 DeKalb Ave., one of Fort Greene's best kept secrets, with an ever-changing menu of appetizers, pastas and meats.

- Bloomberg News

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