City Living: Cobble Hill
Children enjoy a crisp fall day in Cobble Hill this weekend. CLICK HERE FOR 27 MORE PHOTOS OF COBBLE HILL ON AMNY'S FLICKR STREAM. (Photos: Phil S. Kropoth)
Special to amNewYork
As one of the components of BoCoCa, a name dreamed up by brokers to describe the ritzy patch of wine bars, stylish boutiques and gift shops in northwest Brooklyn, Cobble Hill blends rather seamlessly into neighbors Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill.
As well, the plentiful retail options and packs of yoga-glow moms pushing expensive baby strollers draw inevitable comparisons to that other pretty enclave across the Gowanus Canal, Park Slope.
But Cobble Hill is smaller and more intimate, especially east of Court Street where the noise and fuss gives way to peaceful little streets, gardens with wrought-iron fences and pre-Civil War era townhouses.
It's a great place to get lost in, Frank Baldaro said. Incredibly romantic surroundings, and the architecture has a sort of Dickensian flavor to it.In addition to the unique architecture, Cobble Hill is defined by a number of long-time residentsparticularly aging Italiansand the concentration of Middle Eastern businesses near Atlantic Avenue.
The neighborhood is also home to younger residents who feel they have outgrown areas such as Williamsburg and Bushwick, but dont yet have families of their own.
Sure, there are hipsters, but it's not Williamsburg, Baldaro said. And too many strollers but it's not Park Slope, either.
But everyone can agree that Cobble Hill is one of Brooklyns most beautiful neighborhoods.
Once I saw the view from my building, it was so easy to fall in love with Cobble Hill, said Kim Correll. All of the brownstones look like something out a movie. I feel lucky to live here.
Cobble Hill is defined by Atlantic Avenue to the north, Smith Street to the east, Degraw Street to the south, and the BQE to the west.
THE ONE THING YOU MUST DO
Cobble Hill Historic District is nineteenth-century Brooklyn at its loveliest; go deep into the belly and get lost in the little streets, then take it easy in Cobble Hill Park.
The Chocolate Room is at 269 Court St.
You can get just about anything here: Middle Eastern (around Atlantic Avenue); New American (along Smith Street); French bistro; sushi; cheap Chinese; juice bar; even raw and vegan food. There are also a few high-end dessert places and bakeries with table service.
The Chocolate Room
The super-cheery staff loves your corny chocoholic jokes at this gourmet binge palace, where the brownie sundae a boiling hot specimen encased in chewy hot fudge, complemented by house-made ice cream will turn you into a believer. The bourbon vanilla flavor is excellent, but the standout is the mint chip: Its like a milky mint leaf.
269 Court St. 718-246-2600
To get away from the chaos on Smith Street, head deep into Cobble Hill to this lovely wine bar and restaurant: Theres great service, delicious small plates, an affordable wine list, all kinds of meats and cheeses and a laid-back vibe. Try the mint panna cotta with strawberries or the assortment of flavorful bruschette.
391 Henry St. 718-243-2522
This authentic Yemeni joint distinguishes itself from the rest of the Atlantic Avenue pack with its succulent boneless lamb, plump chicken with root vegetables, and unique fatah: warm homemade bread bits soaked in honey and butter.
176 Atlantic Ave. 718-834-9533
Housed in a cavernous candle-lit space with a DJ, this affordable, popular (but worth the wait) Thai restaurant has great sticky rice, delicious curries, and a great bar.
215 Court St. 718-222-3484
Sweet Melissa Patisserie and CrÃ©merie
Possibly the best place to bring your daughter (or anybody, for that matter) in the area, Sweet Melissa serves excellent pastries, traditional High Tea and small meals. The Cremerie next door crafts egg creams, waffle sundaes and ice cream sodas.
276 Court St. 718-855-3410
This cheery little juice and smoothie bar also serves wraps, salads, elaborate grilled cheese sandwiches, Ciao Bella gelato and breakfast all day long.
198 Court St. 718-855-6166
A reminder of the heyday of Cobble Hills Italian population, this no-frills restaurant has been cooking up reliable red-sauce Italian food since time immemorial.
238 Court St. 718-596-3458
Ceol Pub at 191 Smith. St. is a great Cobble Hill Irish Pub.
With so many bars and lounges (particularly on Smith Street) its easy to stay local and have fun. If you want to go elsewhere, the Lower East Side is a short trip on the F, and fifteen minutes on the G drops you smack in the middle of Williamsburg. If its beat-up furniture, good coffee, and free WiFi that youre after, check out Tea Lounge (254 Court St. 718-624-5683).
Swank without being snooty, Clover Club features a menu of delicious, complex cocktails that one patron compares to full meals that someone invented recipes for. If you come by on the early side, its a good place to do work, too.
210 Smith St. 718-855-7939
Low-lit and vaguely seedy, this neighborhood dive bar wins points for its awesome jukebox filled with mix CDs, comfy couches, board games, pinball machine and fun-loving crowd.
175 Smith St. 718-254-0607
A bright neighborhood bookstore with in-store literary events (theyll start up again in March 2009). The back room offers chairs for reading and a floor so polished youll have to resist the urge to slide across the room in your socks.
163 Court St. 718-875-3677
Robin des Bois
A French bistro and wine bar filled with all sorts of antiques, where happy diners feast on French toast and Bloody Marys under a large statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Dont miss that dried-out crocodile in the window.
195 Smith St. 718-596-1609
At this bar and bistro, theres plenty to please drinkers (frothy Belgian beers) and teetotalers (tart, pulpy lemonade) alike. Delight in the excellent all-French wine list, read the paper over brunch and enjoy a greasy little bucket of frites. Open late.
128 Smith St. 718-923-0918
A welcome change from Smith Streets slicker options, Ceol offers a warm, pubby Irish atmosphere complete with shepherds pie, fish and chips, frosty pints of Guinness, live music and karaoke.
191 Smith. St. 347-643-9911
Examining the offerings outside the Community Bookstore.
Smith and Court streets are packed with shops selling gourmet food, housewares, clothes, pastries, meats, toys, gifts you name it. There are a few small markets embedded in the otherwise residential historic district; Trader Joes just took over the former Independence Bank building on Court Street; and IKEA and Fairway are just a short bus ride away.
There are many womens clothing boutiques in Cobble Hill, but the best place to blow your cash is Lara Fieldbinders serene and enticing shop. The hand-picked pieces are more refreshingly stylish than outright sexy and the saleswomen are helpful without being intrusive.
198 Smith St. 718-852-3620
Who likes digging for treasure and doesnt mind dust, cramped spaces and mind-boggling clutter just like your favorite packrat uncles apartment? Everythings here, from that elusive Sanskrit picture book to that beat-up copy of The Human Condition.
212 Court St. 718-834-9494
Enter this haven of Middle Eastern goodies and take a big whiff. Heaven! Shoppers from all over are drawn to the big bins of beans and pulses, fresh cheeses, dried fruit and olives soaking in brineall at great prices.
187 Atlantic Ave. 718-624-4550
Rashid Music Sales
The retail outpost of Americas oldest and largest distributor of Arab music offers plenty of new sounds to explore and new stars to idolize.
155 Court St. 718-852-3295
Cheap homemade pita by the bag, a case of spinach and meat pies, handmade Syrian cheese, a fridge full of dips and some of the best baklava in the city make this shop a fine choice for Middle Eastern goods.
195 Atlantic Ave. 718-625-7070
Rocketship Graphic Novels and Comics
The graphic-novel nerd will be in heaven in this un-snooty shop, where the small but extremely well-chosen selection offers both familiar and unusual choices as well as works by local artists.
208 Smith St. 718-797-1348
The counter at Stinky Bklyn
Stinky indeed! In addition to super-pungent cheeses of all sorts, there are huge ham-legs, pointing upward like Rockettes gams on the counter near the front, which are ready for carving.
261 Smith St. 718-522-7425
Tip: Tickets are $6.50 a pop on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Strolling along Smith Street, Court Street and Atlantic Avenue, popping into boutiques and shops, should be enough to keep you busy in Cobble Hill.
Cobble Hill Historic District
The warren of narrow, treelined streets east of Court Street is crammed with lovely pre-Civil War era houses, many with wrought iron fenced and ornate detailing. The carriage houses on Verandah Place are particularly stunning.
Hicks Street to Court Street and Atlantic Avenue to Degraw Street
Cobble Hill Cinemas
A neighborhood theater where the lobby is decked out in old-school murals, tickets are $6.50 a pop on Tuesdays and Thursdays and theres a pumpin, charmingly dated preshow animation that advises you to be quiet and turn off your cell phone.
265 Court St. 718-596-9113
Cobble Hill Park
This small park surrounded by houses has an old-timey look to it: You can take a load off under one of the trees while your kid scurries around the playground.
Clinton Street at Congress Street
Americas first low-rent housing units, which were built in 1877 and inspired by similar buildings in London, were among the first to offer plumbing and well-ventilated spaces to the working class.
Warren Place at Baltic Street, east of the BQE
Some of the nicest real estate you'll see in Brooklyn is in Cobble Hill.
The landmark area west of Court Street has some of Cobble Hills most desirable properties: gorgeous 19th-century townhouses on narrow tree-lined streets.
In addition to the historic brownstones, the area offers walkability, great schools, pretty 19th-century churches and a neighborhood feel, said Emily Fisher, associate broker at Halstead Brooklyn LLC. It used to be sort of a stepchild to Brooklyn Heights, but today plenty of families prefer Cobble Hillits a little quieter than Brooklyn Heights.
Added Robin Rae at Brick Real Estate, Many young professionals are moving here: young lawyers, financial types, and those who work in the creative arts are all attracted to the proximity to Manhattan and varied retail options.
$609,000 for a one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom duplex with shared patio (Clinton Street at Amity Street)
$839,000 for a 1220-square-feet two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom duplex in converted schoolhouse (401 Hicks St.)
$2,950,000 for a five-bedroom, two-bathroom carriage house with original details (Verandah Place)*
$4,995,000 for a six-bedroom, two-bathroom 1843 Greek revival townhouse with large garden (Amity Street)*
$2,600 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in pre-war townhouse with original details and terrace (Clinton Street)*
$1,950 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in pre-war townhouse (Henry Street)*
$3800 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in pre-war townhouse with terrace (Court Street)*
$4000 for a floor-through three-bedroom apartment (Henry St.)
*Contact: Brian Lehner, senior vice president at Brown Harris Stevens. 718-858-5423
IF YOU BOUGHT IN 1990
Townhouse on Verandah Place: $2,950,000
In 1990, adjusted for inflation: $450,000
Townhouse on Amity Street: $4,995,000
In 1990, adjusted for inflation: $650,000
DID YOU KNOW?
Cobble Hill was originally called Ponkiesburg, which is roughly the Dutch equivalent of the areas current name.
Many restaurants and shops in Park Slope also have outposts in Cobble Hill: Coco Roco, Bird, Tea Lounge, Chocolate Room and Sweet Melissa Patisserie are a few.
The corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street was the site of one of the most important posts during the Revolutionary Wars Battle of Brooklyn.
American novelist Thomas Wolfe once lived at 40 Verandah Place.
Saturday Night Lives short film The Line was shot outside Cobble Hill Cinemas on Court Street.
Q & A WITH KIM CORRELL
Kim Correll, 29, is a business development representative living in Cobble Hill.
What are your favorite places in Cobble Hill?
Bocca Lupo, and Clover Club has great drinks the Southside Fizz is awesome. If you ask anyone where you should go for beer and good, cheap food, theyll direct you to Trout. Teddy is good for clothing and accessories, like a purse or a cute pair of earrings.
Whats so great about the area?
Its historically preserved, which is a big asset: No high-rises and lots of narrow streets. And the shopping is fantastic, so I rarely go into the city anymore to buy gifts. Also, its also easy to get to the IKEA and the Fairway: The 61 bus takes you right there.
Whats not so great?
I live on Hicks overlooking the BQE, and what sucks is that the other side is not historically preserved: Theyre building condos right across from my house and its wrecking my view of the city!
What type of person would like the area?
Pretty much anyone who is historically sensitive, though I doubt many older people would want to move here, as most buildings have been preserved and therefore have no elevators. A woman on my floor who has been here 23 years is thinking of moving because her friends cant come up the stairs anymore to play cards.
Do you see any big changes on the horizon for the area?
Theres not a lot of turnover here I dont really see people moving in or out. I think the economic situation is keeping people around, and also when it comes to buying a house, this is a destination, not a stepping-stone.
What about gentrification?
Its as developed as I could ever imagine it getting. Even though Cobble Hill has gentrified, its been able to maintain its soul: You still see people sitting on their stoops at night when its warm out talking to other people in the neighborhood.
THE FACT SHEET
Community Board 6
Brooklyn Public Library Carroll Gardens
396 Clinton St. 718-596-6972
Subway: F, G to Bergen St.
Bus: B61, 63, 65, 75.
191 Union St. 718-834-3211
Engine 202/Ladder 101 (Red Hook)
31 Richards St. 718-403-1402
Ridgewood Saving Bank
244 Court St. 718-923-0300
Independence Savings Bank
179 Pacific St. 718-625-2843
130 Court St. 718-246-8460
486 Henry St. 718-237-2829
The 76th Precinct, which include Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Street Waterfront District and Red Hook, reported four murders, three rapes, 75 robberies and 97 burglaries so far this year. For the same period last year, there were three murders, seven rapes, 98 robberies and 78 burglaries.
PS 29, 425 Henry St.; Brooklyn Heights Montessori, 185 Court St.; School for Global Studies, 284 Baltic St.