Littleneck, so The Pines is a welcome retreat.Over the Gowanus, and through the door, to the Pines we go. The F train knows the way…and you can make up the rest, though the first part is true. To get to Aaron Lefkove and Andy Curtin’s newest venture, The Pines, you must first cross at least a canal to get to Gowanus where the quaint and comfortable eatery is located. There isn’t a lot going on that stretch of Third Avenue in Brooklyn save for Lefkove and Curtin’s other restaurant,
Actually, a mountain getaway is exactly the inspiration behind the joint, as the decor comes from the owner’s own obsession with a camp upstate. Yes, you guessed it, it’s also called The Pines. Most of this rustic restaurant is made from remnants of this long-closed resort, and they even have a wall covered with hanging keys that the demolition crew just threw out. The large wooden sign for the encampment was also dumpster dived and now proudly oversees the kitchen staff as they whip up some decidedly not camp food. They do, however, serve it on plates from the resort, which they got at an auction.
Filling up the china with the restaurant’s new-American cuisine is Angelo Romano, formerly of Roberta's and the shuttered Masten Lake. Following the current trend of listing a single ingredient as the crux of the dish, The Pines is right on point. Their small, cash-only menu consists of an array of sharing plates from cheese, to charcuterie, to pasta. Under that is a list of options including lettuce, jicama, lamb neck, tofu, purlsane, and others.
After the amaranth, we opted for the jicama, which they served in large chunks that oozed coconut milk. Delicate, round crisps of pancetta decorated the plate. Our plate of brisket agnolotti cried for a wine pairing, thankfully there were plenty of affordable options on the list.
The menu contains plenty of fun combos, like the apples paired with sheep’s milk cheese, sesame, and hibiscus. Their testa, or headcheese, comes with flavors of huckleberry, celery, and black pepper, and the idea of pistachios, lardo, and melon mixing with purlsane sounds delightful.
Though the original The Pines sounds cheesy enough, especially after one staff member described it as, “Dirty Dancing for Jewish people,” we think the cheese factor will be held at bay here. Come next year, the great outdoors will become more apparent at the Brooklyn eatery when they open their backyard. Until then, take a trip across the great Gowanus Canal for a mini staycation, minus the running leaps and ‘80s love ballads.
The Pines: 284 Third Ave., Brooklyn, New York; 718-596-6560