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“Broken English”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Italian Brooklyn Moderate Don't Bother

I remember during my days of online dating, looking forward to meeting someone who appeared to be ideal on paper (or on screen). A profile might describe a successful, interesting, handsome guy, who in person was indeed handsome, but lacked substance underneath the good looks. It was always so disappointing.

I had a similar reaction at my dinner the other night at Broken English, a lovely looking Roman restaurant on Bergen Street in Cobble Hill. Indeed, on looks alone, I'd give the place a 10. Walled in glass, with a long marble bar lining the wall to the far right, the space is striking, lit with cool, bare industrial bulbs, and furnished with a vintage collection of mismatched chairs, some stainless steel, some upholstered, some with arms, some without. While the odd lot look is quite hip, yet the practical effect of the chair mish-mosh is that you have to play musical chairs to find a seat that is comfortable enough to spend an hour or two sitting in.

Seats aside, though, the space is very inviting. Large and roomy, with a big open kitchen toward the rear and a small outdoor patio that draws a mix of toddler-toting neighborhood families and attractive young singles, this would seem to be a perfect little restaurant: stylish, filled with a good looking crowd, what's not to love? Broken English co-owner Roy Marino, who spent time as a general manager at Morandi, would probably say nothing. Well, unfortunately, I'd have to disagree. The food is not edible.

Let's begin with salads. The one fashioned from farro ($12) is tossed with root vegetables that have been roasted to within an inch of their once green lives, oven-blasted and shriveled up like pruned fingers. Arugula is thrown in there too, though I have no idea why, and the "lemon vinaigrette" is all but absent. It was a rather sad composition. My arugula salad with blue cheese, toasted pecans, and grapes ($12) sounded like it would be a welcome tumble of contrasting flavors and textures, but instead was a monotone expression of one: salt. I don't know if the cook on cold apps was in a foul mood that night, but it tasted as though she must have taken a box of kosher salt and poured it on top of that salad like confetti over a bride on her wedding day. I was dehydrated after three bites.

Pastas are uninspired. Take out Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking and you could do much better at home. The Riga ... [more, click below]

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