Brooklyn's best ... in the Berkshires
PITTSFIELD — Red-checkered tablecloths, legs of prosciutto, fresh balls of mozzarella, and all of the makings of Italian antipasti. You might think you were in Little Italy, but you're still in the Berkshires. That's how it feels when you walk into Brooklyn's Best on North Street in downtown Pittsfield.
Brooklyn's Best opened in June 2016 across from the Phoenix Cinema. Since then, Frank Maurice has been sharing food from his childhood, inspired by recipes passed down from his mother and grandmother. After many years of visiting his family's second home in the area, Maurice knew he wanted to make the Berkshires his home with his wife, Valentina. He has been working in and around kitchens for the past 30 years — 10 of those years, working locally in the food and beverage industry.
Maurice wanted to bring the best of what Brooklyn has to offer to his eatery, which is part deli counter, part restaurant.
At the deli counter, customers can order sliced Italian meats, fresh mozzarella cheese and grab-and-go foods, including eggplant Parmesan, lasagna, sausages and other classic Italian entrees. For those with a sweet tooth, filled-to-order, cannolis are available and slices of tiramisu are ready to take away. In addition to the grab-and-go, Brooklyn's Best sells Italian pantry staples — olive oil from Abruzzo, balsamic vinegar from Modena, dried Italian pasta and more.
Much of what Brooklyn's Best offers is made on site by Maurice and his wife or brought in from a family distributor at competitive pricing that he's able to pass onto the customer.
"If we're not personally touching it with our hands, it's our relatives that are making it," he said. "That's why you won't find a better mozzarella. That's why our Italian sausage is the best."
The menu, written on an old school-green chalkboard, features a selection of rustic pizzas (whole or by the slice), overstuffed sandwiches, and fresh pasta and sauce. He gets his pasta from his family's shop in Brooklyn.
"Our products are put on a truck after being handmade from a family bakery that's been there for a hundred years and that Zagat rates the best in the five boroughs," he said.
Wrapped balls of fresh mozzarella are available for $10 each and are a favorite deli item.
"We started coming up here with one case of mozzarella, and now we're doing like 10 a week," he said.
One customer favorite sandwich is The Mile-High Pastrami, made with a pound of pastrami and served on homemade Italian bread topped with coleslaw and finished with Russian dressing. Another favorite, The Italian, is served on a 12-inch roll with a minimum of five types of Italian meat including prosciutto, hot and sweet soppressata, two kinds of capocollo, sweet salami, mortadella and topped with provolone and mozzarella cheese. Sandwiches range in price, $10 for standard size and $14 for a large, which Maurice said is ideal for two people.
By day, Brooklyn's Best is a lunch spot and deli. By night, Maurice thinks of the place as a "BYOB ravioli bar."
For dinner, the lights are lowered, "something you would see in Greenwich Village," and with the opportunity for customers to bring their own wine, the BYOB option gives them a competitive advantage. They've seen success with their evening family-style chef`s tasting. A three-course affair, it includes an antipasti, proteins, pasta and dessert. At $60 per person, Maurice said he sees it as the best deal for a private or group dining experience.
"I like to think of these as a private dining experience, where I can tailor the tasting menu to the preferences of the diner." he said.
A la carte more your style? The dinner menu includes fresh mozzarella and sliced tomato, antipasti plates for appetizers, and for entrees cavatelli with bacon and onion sauce, lobster ravioli with spicy marinara and fresh rigatoni with meatballs. There are options to sit down and have a special date or small group dinner.
There are gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options available, and Maurice is pleased to share his ability to cater to vegan diners.
"We have a connection for fresh imported pasta from Italy, right to our door, every week or so, we change it up now and again," he said. "Many of those options of those fresh pastas are vegan-friendly."
To order, customers can call in for takeout; delivery will be available via UBEReats starting Thursday, or you can eat in at the restaurant. Catering options are available. Takeout Tuesday specials and other promotions can also be found on their Facebook page.
For Maurice, it's all about connecting with customers on a first-name basis and sharing with them a piece of home.
"If I had a dollar every time someone says when they come in here, they are transported to a place they don't think is the Berkshires," he said. "It's so rewarding."
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