Find Excitement In Brooklyn’s Williamsburg


Williamsburg continues to excite with different restaurants and venues. (Courtesy of Caleb Stine for The Fordham Ram)

Perhaps the trendiest neighborhood in America since the turn of the 21st century has been Williamsburg. A Brooklyn enclave that sits just across the East River from the Lower East Side and the East Village, Williamsburg is a monster of a neighborhood that could populate an entire column’s worth of a Ram’s issue with information and recommendations. 

Like most of Brooklyn, the neighborhood of Williamsburg has undergone recent, dramatic demographic and cultural transitions through gentrification. The neighborhood’s fluidity can be felt as soon as you get off the Bedford Avenue L-Train stop after taking the Metro-North to Grand Central, hopping on the 4, and transferring at Union Square to go towards Brooklyn. 

Originally settled by the Lenape Native Americans, present-day Williamsburg was purchased by the Dutch West India Company in 1638. 

After integrating into New York City in 1898, Germans and Jews from the Lower East Side entered the neighborhood after the completion of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903, contributing to Williamsburg’s status as the most densely populated neighborhood in the United States for the first two decades of the 20th century. 

Later, Hasidic refugees fleeing the Holocaust came to the neighborhood in waves from Hungary and Romania. Hasidic hamlets still exist alongside Flushing Avenue on the southside of Williamsburg today. 

Williamsburg became a hot spot for artists and creatives towards the late 1990s when rents were modest and inventory was high. Today, the neighborhood boasts some of the highest rents in Brooklyn. 

But top dollar gets top restaurants, views and attractions. Williamsburg has a lot to offer, in an environment that never feels overwhelming or claustrophobic. 

What rarely gets talked about in Brooklyn, outside of Prospect Park, is the green space. Domino Park and McCarren Park, two equally attractive options, offer a change of scenery for a moment. Domino Park features stunning waterfront views of Manhattan and is a perfect spot to watch the majesty of the concrete jungle unfold just miles to the west. 

McCarren Park isn’t quite as calming or romantic but acts as an extension of the neighborhood, often populated with crowds coming to and from dinner or drinks, and even the most unlucky can bet on an upbeat mood in the park. McCarren also serves as a welcome to, or a goodbye from, Williamsburg. The neighborhood Greenpoint borders the park directly to the north. 

It would be silly to suggest that simply going to Williamsburg isn’t invigorating entertainment in and of itself, but for formal entertainment venues, Williamsburg comes prepared. The Nitehawk Cinema, with a second location in Park Slope, features current and repertory films in a pub-like environment. Their next three Saturdays feature a stacked ensemble of one classic each week, with “Singin’ in the Rain” playing April 29, “2001: A Space Odyssey” showing May 6 and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” playing May 13. 

Brooklyn Bowl is a bowling alley, concert venue and bar. Catering fun for all ages, tribute bands of classic bands such as Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles are staples here. 

The highlight of Williamsburg is its dining destinations. A neighborhood loaded with electric environments serving quality plates. 

Bedford Avenue is lined with restaurants, buzz and overall good vibes. Here are my three recommended spots on Williamsburg’s central drag. 

Fini Pizza arrived in the neighborhood during our first semester this past fall and is rated a solid 7.9 on Dave Portnoy’s One Bite App. The pies have great char and a balanced thickness that complements the modern environment. A casual spot that has routinely been packed in the months since its inception, the joint is owned and operated by Sean Feeney, of nearby upscale Williamsburg staples Lilia and Misi, which both ranked among the New York Times’ top 100 restaurants in New York in last week’s issue. 

Terasa North Ninth serves Mediterranean fare in an atmospheric setting. The dimly-lit restaurant accompanied by braised lamb, views of Bedford and quite possibly the best roasted potatoes I’ve ever had is as chef’s kiss as it gets. 

Allswell, just a block up from Terasa, does what so many restaurants in Brooklyn do so well, but even better: elevates classic American cuisine in a lively and classy environment. The energy here is contagious and is the place that you’ll inevitably end up at if you walk by, even if you had reservations elsewhere. The eggs benedict and grilled chicken sandwiches should be at the top of your list. 

Every time I’m in Williamsburg, I feel like I’m on a mini-vacation. It’s a neighborhood where people are excited to be there. Excited to explore. Excited to learn. And most importantly, excited to eat.