TONY Cooks Oven

Time Out NY has reviewed Oven and it ain’t pretty:

Time Out NY: Oven: To our surprise, the meal started out quite well. We enjoyed an appetizer of veal meatballs, baked in a sweet tomato sauce and dusted with fine Parmesan cheese. A refreshing summer salad—arugula and razor-thin shavings of Parmesan with a lemony olive-oil dressing—was delicious. But Oven’s raison d’être—pizza—doesn’t reach the same heights. Pie purists will shudder at the spongy, uncharred crust and toppings just a half step above the California Pizza Kitchen ilk (chicken curry, for one). A comically expensive $30 kobe steak pizza came topped with chunks of overcooked beef on a crème fraîche base striped with balsamic vinegar and truffle oil—an ineffective jumble of lavish fixings. (Seems management has come to its senses since our last visit—the pie is now a $20 special.)

TONY also called Henry Street restaurant row “down and out”. Is this review too brutal and negative or spot on?

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  • nicky

    Why was he so harsh towards Henry Street? There are many fine options like Noodlw Pudding.

  • Teddy

    For some people I know, Noodle Pudding is the only option in that area. In other words, it’s Noodle Pudding, Smith St. or Manhattan.

  • Beavis

    People of Bklyn Heights: Why do you rate Noodle Pudding so highly?

    It’s just ok, and when you factor in the price, the value just isn’t there.

    There’s MUCH better Italian food in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill.

    I’m always shocked that people speak about NP like it’s some culinary wonder. I suppose it’s a reflection on the mediocrity of Heights food.

  • Lou

    That place is run by the same people who run blue pig, the failed “Food Maestro” (worst name ever?) and the failed and forgettable pan-latino restaurant that was on the other side of blue pig (which I believe they also run). I haven’t tried Oven and I probably won’t. I have no need for fancy pizza. Fascatti’s, Grimaldi’s and Monty Q’s have those bases covered. Those guys need to go back to food concept school. The area needs a mexican place on the reals. We’ve seen how many places come and go? Henry and Clark is like a graveyard. The old Bagel Lady space is yet another cursed space. It went through 3-4 unimaginative places in a row. An Irish Pub, something called Citroen and then Mike’s Kosher Steakhouse.

    I think people just aren’t going out in the area. There’s a lot of people in the area but you just don’t see them out. The nightlife in the area also pretty much sucks. There was an article in the NY Observer about the death of Montague as a place to be and that pretty much applies to Henry street, too. Lack of night life = lack of people out at night to eat in places. Especially if they are sub par

    Food on Henry street is pretty awful in general if want something more than Pizza, Greek Diner or Bar Food. That’s all there is to it.

  • nicky

    I’m sorry but Noodle Pudding is a great restaurant, as is Henry’s End. I also really enjoy Petite Marche. Although it isn’t on Henry Street, I am not impressed with the Jack the Horse. That’s one place where I don’t get why people rave about it. I would rather go to the Ale House.

  • nicky

    I have had great experiences at Petit Marche, but you are right their prices are way too high.

  • bhb reader

    Nicky, I decided to try Ale House tonight. I have read many favorable reviews on here & checked them out on – I was looking forward to it.

    Unfortunately, when we went in, we waited for some sort of “welcome” or someone to seat us, perhaps offer menus & water … but NOTHING! We stood there for about 5 minutes (I guess had we seen a table for 3 near the front we just would’ve taken it, but we didn’t) and then left, a bit disappointed.

    I guess if they wanted or needed our business, a hello at the door would’ve helped. I felt like I was walking into a party to which I hadn’t been invited.

  • nicky

    I am sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Although I never thought about the greeting aspect of the Ale House. It is a bar first and foremost. Anytime I go there I’ve gotten good prompt service. Did you go somewhere else instead?

  • hoppy

    BHB reader…Maybe you were misled here. The Henry St. Ale House is a neighborhood tavern with good beer and good pub food, but not any kind of formal sitdown restaurant like JTH, HE or LPM. There is no hostess up front to welcome you or white shirted busboys to serve you water. However, next time when you come in just grab the first open table you see, and alert the bartender or other waitstaff of your presence. Then you’re assured to enjoy good beer and good pub food, even water, in a friendly and non-pretentious setting. Cheers!

  • Bklnheights

    You walked into a bar to eat, didnt get seated, didnt ask anybody to be seated and then just left? Its not the Tavern on the Green, its a bar.

  • elizabells

    Fair enough, but even if you follow those bar/pub guidelines the service at Henry St Ale House is slooooooooow. I still go there because it’s basically ten feet from my apartment and the mac and cheese is awesome, but you practically have to knock the bartender (more than one guy, on different occasions) upside the head to get a second drink. And don’t you DARE get a drink at the bar and then sit at a table. Cardinal sin, apparently, which I’ve never encountered at any other place with similar seating arrangements.

  • Melissa

    I have to second the comments about Noodle Pudding. I thought my husband and I were the only people who had bad experiences there. While everyone is friendly, the food is mediocre at best. Take a walk down Henry in Cobble Hill to Boca Lupo for good, fairly priced Italian food.

  • nicky

    How many times have you been? Every restaurant can have an off night. It is true the food went down hill this summer while the chef was away on vacation. He is back now, and the food is a good as ever.

    Went to Jack the Horse with another couple lst night, once again found the service and drinks to be below average. I guess everyone has their preferences, but after one drink we went to the Ale House and had a great rest of the night!

  • LTindaBH

    I have been to Bocca Lupo a few times, and was underwhelmed. And it wasn’t cheap. NP offers good Italian (and other) wines at a low markup and, in my opinion, consistently decent food. It is in danger, I think, of become a victim of its success, however. The service on Friday was friendly but scattered, and the noise level is always a problem. I happen to really like Jack the Horse; I have mostly had great food and good service, although on one occasion, when I was with a big group, the waiter was being a jerk. That big group, btw, was from Manhattan and kept remarking how it was like “being on vacation” when they came to BH. (As a local, I am happy to host them, and just as happy when they go home!)

  • joe

    Henry Street has either low end food or “gee this is fancy” restaurants because they cater to college kids… (Montegue steeet its the court house lunch rush that dominates the menue.

    BH has always had low end restaurants because most people who actually call the place their neighborhood have enough cash and experience to travel elsewhere for good eating.

  • ChrisC

    Quick question – Lou mentioned an article in the NY Observer about the “death of Montague being the place to be” — ever since I’ve been in Brooklyn, Montague has always seemed to be just a quiet street with restaurants — anyone who’s been in the hood longer know of a time when it was hopping? Any particular bars/restaurants that seemed to attract more nightlife? Just curious…

  • nabeguy

    The last real “bar” that I can remember on the Q was the Saloon, where Housing Works now is. Kind of a pub and grub sort of place, with the emphasis on the drinking. I’d say the last time the street was really hopping was when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn headquartered at the Bossert. Yet another thing to blame O’Malley for!

  • Sasha

    I feel compelled to chime in and mention that I eat at Jack the Horse regularly, and it’s one of my favorite restaurants in the City (and everyone I’ve taken there loves it). I’ve always found it to be far superior to Noodle Pudding, which I think is totally over-hyped and generic. (And I agree that Boca Lupo is great, especially for brunch). I’ve given NP so many chances at this point, and I’ve yet to try a single thing that’s remotely impressive.

    I agree with Timeout that Oven excels at appetizers and salads. The pizza is fine, if nothing special. However, it’s nothing like Food Maestro or Afficianada and does not deserve any comparisons to those failures, same ownership or not. I’m glad it’s in the neighborhood, and they’ve always been extremely nice when I’ve eaten there.

  • CF

    Definitely unfair to group Henry’s End in with bad Henry St. restaurants. That place is absolutely delicious and the service has been impeccable every time I’ve been there. Expensive, yes, but I think worth it.

  • nicky

    I guess it’s all a matter of personal preference. I love Noodle Pudding, and have never experienced a bad meal there. I find the food and service to be nothing short of excellent. Jack the Horse is another story, I keep giving it chances with the hope that I’ll find what people are raving about. The service has always been below average, and sometimes even rude, and the food isn’t any better than the Ale House.

  • spm

    I’ve eaten at all of the relatively new and established places on Montague Street. What really defines them is their hospitality. Jack the Horse: Good for beers and burgers. Petite Marche: the mussells and frites are delicious and the hostess/owner is very friendly. Our waitress was lovely and if the busboys seem overeager – wave them off. Noodlepudding is good not great, but consistently solid. Henry’s End is fab for the fall/winter with their game menu but otherwise it’s okay. Order in from Crave – they’re not BH but CG but they deliver and they’re delicious if you want to pay restaurant prices but have the convenience of delivery. Look, I don’t think we’re ever going to get the creativity of Smith Street or the East Village – the rents here are astronomical for start-ups. The area where Oven, et al is not as trafficked as Montague and why they can’t figure out what to put in what was Caviar Lady on Clark Street I have no idea. That’s my rant – tonight I’ll be roasting the veggies from the Greenmarket…

  • sue

    Noodle Pudding? Hah!! It just shows how low our expectations are when that is considered a good restaurant. My 10 yr old can make better homemade sauce than them. Pasta is cheap and they are waaay overhyped. If there was any decent Italian restaurant in the neighborhood, they would have closed long ago. Plus, get someone to turn the air-conditioning on in there too, or would they charge more for their skimpy plate of pasta because of that?
    For real Italian food, go into the heart of Brooklyn. But Heights people are afraid to leave the hood for anything, that’s why the places hold everyone hostage!!!

  • nicky

    Mrs. Fink do you share Sue’s feelings on Noodle Pudding?

  • DAG

    I too have had terrible service every time I’ve been to the Ale house. I’ve only been twice and will probably never go again. I love Henry’s End and the service has been good every time I’ve gone. Noodle Pooding is decent, run of the mill, Italian. I think people love it so much because every other italian restaurant in BH, and there are several, is god awful.

  • Andrew

    Noodle Pudding is a solid neighborhood restaurant. Unfortunately, in the context of the Heights, that’s like being Per Se. On Smith St., Noodle Pudding would be one of a few decent restaurants. On Henry St., it’s like an oasis in the desert. But because it’s one of the few places in the Heights that is both good and not ridiculously overpriced, Noodle Pudding is also usually horribly over-crowded.

    I’ve never had to wait long to get service at the Ale House. While I’m a fan because of the beer selection, it also has the benefit of existing without competition. In this context it looks better than usual.

    A moderately competent bar or restaurant in the Heights (especially in the north heights) will be overly lauded because of the lack of competition in the neighborhood, while a poor to mediocre restaurant or bar will fail because it’s easy enough to leave the neighborhood to go to a legitimately good place in Manhattan, Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens or Park Slope.

  • Anonymous BH Resident

    What would people think of an american-esque (diverse menu) cafe/bistro/wine bar on North Henry (or, for that matter, Montague)? Coffee, pastries, magazines during the day, then wine, tapas and classic (with a twist) larger plates in the evening?

    Or if if was a cafe that just did pastries/coffee in the morning, and turned into a wine bar at night, would it get any patrons? (Assuming it was a pleasant atmosphere with good service and good value?) Would people come out to support it, and re-energize nightlife in the neighborhood?

  • JL

    Hi Anon BH Resident. I think your ideas won’t do the trick, sorry. There’s a decent wine selection at Oven, JTH, etc., and I don’t think we need much as far as coffee and pastries in the NoHe, with BC, Cranberries, Uncommon Grounds. (Same goes for Montague) I would suggest more of a stylish lounge (comfy seats, darker mood lighting) with the tapas you suggested. Or a good Mexican place.

  • heightdiho

    Yes – some of Oven’s menu is a little over-priced, but I hope it succeeds. The owner is a great guy and just needs a little time to iron out the details. He’s quite the wine afficianado too! I hope he survives. The “Busy Chef” on the corner is another matter…
    Also – Henry’s End rocks!

  • nes

    When I moved to BH I tried Noodle Pudding because it was packed every night. I figured it had to be great. I was quite disappointed. I keep thinking I should give it a second chance, but never have got around to it, with Manhattan and Smith St. so close by. The service was mediocre, the food was mediocre and expensive, and it was too noisy.

    No one has mentioned Taze, the Turkish restaurant on Montague. The food is usually very good. The outside terrace is nice in the summer. It’s wine list, however, is minimal.

    And to anon BH resident: I would love a wine bar with tapas in the neighborhood. Not sure that we need another coffee and pastry place, though.

  • Mtierney

    I am SO glad that this subject came up. It is interesting to read what others in the Heights think about the restaurants here. I have lived in the Heights since 1990 and have watched a variety of places come and go. Some of the newer people to the neighborhood might not remember the brunch at the Leaf & Bean. It was on Montague street in the space above the small harware/variety store and had the best brunch which often came with a long wait but well worth it! I really miss that place for the quality and service it offered.

    I have to say, I have been generally disappointed in the restaurant choices we have in the Heights and I have to wonder why? Is it the high rents, lack of restaurant appropriate spaces, vision? Surely someone out there in foodie land can raise the bar in the quality, service, atmosphere and overall positive eating experience that we all crave in Brooklyn Heights. We all know what our current choices are locally and for the most part I think we have resigned ourselves to travel to adjoining neighborhoods or the City. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I am still hopeful that someone with an entrepreneurial spirit and talent for excellence will open up a place that is worth our patronage.