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“Aqualis Grill”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Greek Brooklyn Moderate Good

A few years ago I sat on a food writer’s panel with Florence Fabricant of the NY Times. I was moving to Brooklyn at the time and we got to talking about all the great restaurants in Cobble Hill and Park Slope. But when it came to Fort Greene her face turned sour. “There’s really no place to eat near BAM,” she said. “Do you have any suggestions?” At the time, I offered Smoke Joint and Stone Home Wine Bar, two places I’d been to and enjoyed. But other than those two, which I wasn’t convinced would be her speed, I had nothing for her. She was unimpressed. “I’ve been to those places, isn’t there anything new?” At the time I shook my head. How I wished I could have steered to some under-the-radar gem, so that she would have looked to me as a resource and not just another useless food blogger. How I wish I were on that panel with her this year so that I could let her in on a newcomer to Fort Greene that would have solved her BAM-related culinary issues. I’d have told her about Aqualis and she’d forever be in my restaurant debt.

Well, if I can’t let Flo Fab in on the secret, I might as well share it with all of you. Aqualis, a Greek bistro that opened just over a month ago a few steps from Habana Outpost on Fulton Street, is the newest addition to the burgeoning Fort Greene food scene that includes recent stars like The General Greene and No. 7, as well as a new beer garden as of this week, Der Schwarze Kolner.

Aqualis is a sweet little place, a labor of love owned by the former manager of Zanzibar, Gorian (Arnie) Papa. He’s decorated it in bistro style with exposed brick walls, long sets of banquettes on smooth wood floors, warm amber lighting from wall sconces, tin ceilings and eclectic antiques salvaged from North Fork shops, and tall French doors painted the color of milk thrown open to the bustling street.

In the kitchen, he’s installed Greek-American chef John Tsakinas (most recently the chef de cuisine at Kellari Taverna and before that the owner of Piggin’ Out and a cook at Petrossian, Windows on the World, and others) who’s been given the privilege of cooking the fish that Arnie hand selects himself every morning (sometime around 2am) from the Hunts Point Fish Market.

From an open kitchen toward the rear of the restaurant, Tsakinas offers a simple menu that relies heavily on that seafood ... [more, click below]

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