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Tempo


SobaAddict70
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More muscular than spaghetti, less clumsy than fettucine, bucatini has a split-the-difference appeal all its own, so the dish starts on a propitious note. Then the music swells with a pesto that pairs pignoli with Sicilian pistachios, giving the whole production a heightened, deepened nuttiness. Fagiolini lend a bouncy beat; toasted bread crumbs rumble in. A rich, riveting symphony is born.
Babbo's influence can be felt at Tempo both generally and specifically, from its emphatic eagerness to please and heartiness of fare to the serving of wines by the quarter liter rather than by the glass.

Tempo (Frank Bruni)

Soba

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I went there when it was Cucina and it still has the same chef. I thought it was okay then, probably the same now.

However, by last count, I could think of 753 Italian restaurants in NYC that I would review before I got around to Tempo/Cucina. Two that he should have chosen prior to Tempo (and in the same genre) are: Parkside and Sapori D'Ischia.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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  • 1 year later...

I went here Friday night (relatives in town, spur of the moment), and I think this restaurant is worth mention.

It is different from Cucina, at which I was a regular, but it does share some of the same sensibility. Same space, similar colors. I can't vouch for whether he's the same chef, but he does look like the man who ran Cucina in its later years.

For drinks, I had something wonderful called a Junipero 102, which was made with gin, fresh lime juice and an Italian muscat. Wonderful twist on a martini, and I'm definitely having it again. My sister had a pomegranate margarita, which was very sweet - perfect if you like that sort of thing, not so perfect if you're hoping for tartness. My mother had a bellini made with prosecco and a fruit juice (passion fruit?) that was very, very good. I'd order that another time, too.

My appetizer, the house made porchetta, was amazing. It's officially billed as "paper thin slices of suckling pig with three fennel stuffing and pistachios." I can't imagine how tricky it must be to assemble such a thing and slice it so fine. So worth the effort, though. My mother had the wild greens with warm goat cheese roulades, and I'm definitely getting that next time I go (one taste was not enough).

My entree was the striped bass, which was as nicely cooked a piece of fish as I've had in a long time. My sister had the cod special, which I liked less than mine (but that's just because I chose better). My mother found her seafood pasta too salty for her taste.

I'm far more familiar with Tempo Presto next store, but hadn't tried their gelati before. Rather than have dessert on premises, we stopped by Presto to pick up some scoops of gelati and ate them at home. Good. Dangerously good. I'm not sure it's a good thing knowing that something so wicked is so close at hand.

I liked Tempo. I'll go there again. Everything on the menu was appealing, and the service couldn't possibly have been nicer.

Right now this particular section of the Slope has more good restaurants than you can shake a stick at (lucky me!), which may be why Tempo hasn't got a higher profile than it does. But it isn't for lack of the essentials. In fact, I think the cooking there aims for something higher than Cucina did.

It should be approached on its own merits, which are many.

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i love the food and wine at tempo. it did garner one star from frank bruni. i believe the owners are babbo alumni. they are very passionate about what they are doing food and wine-wise. they do things like have fresh mozzarella di bufala flown in every friday for a special preparation that changes each week. the last time i was there (almost a year ago), i enjoyed a white rioja with a meal that included that week's mozzarella preparation (i forget exactly what it was, but it was extremely fresh), pasta and fish. although i really no longer remember the dishes i had, i found the preparations to be a bit more mannered than those at nearby al di la but just as lusty at their core.

as good as all that is, the problem is that although they changed the space, they still somehow retained that corporate dining room feel that cucina had. that might have been good enough for cucina when they were practically the only game in town, but with fifth avenue and park slope having bloomed so dramatically over the last couple of years, that's no longer the case, and the restaurant often seems only half full. i know that, on a subconscious level, the decor, as well as a kind of stiff mood, are what have kept me from returning to tempo over the last year, because i thoroughly enjoyed the food, wine and service.

tempo has opened a sandwich shop next door called tempo presto. the sandwiches feature delicious, thoughtful combinations like proscuitto cotto, fontina, and white truffle béchamel in the "mr. crunch", my favorite. the gelatos are reportedly top notch as well, though i haven't tried them. tempo presto seems much more popular than tempo, so i'm hoping that perhaps it will help the owners raise the cash to at least subsidize the restaurant and perhaps even to do something about the decor and feel so that it stays afloat.

tempo

256 fifth avenue (btwn carroll and garfield sts.)

brooklyn, new york 11215

718-636-8899

Edited by bethala (log)

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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I'm far more familiar with Tempo Presto next store, but hadn't tried their gelati before.  Rather than have dessert on premises, we stopped by Presto to pick up some scoops of gelati and ate them at home.  Good.  Dangerously good.  I'm not sure it's a good thing knowing that something so wicked is so close at hand.

I liked Tempo.  I'll go there again.  Everything on the menu was appealing, and the service couldn't possibly have been nicer. 

Right now this particular section of the Slope has more good restaurants than you can shake a stick at (lucky me!), which may be why Tempo hasn't got a higher profile than it does.  But it isn't for lack of the essentials.  In fact, I think the cooking there aims for something higher than Cucina did.

It should be approached on its own merits, which are many.

H. du Bois - sorry i read your post pre-coffee and completely missed your tempo presto comments - didn't mean to be redundant in my post. i agree, tempo should be approached on its many merits, and i really hope it gets the accolades it deserves.

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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Bethala, I agree with your comments completely. I didn't find the space stiff, but I always found the separate rooms strange, unless they do a lot of banqueting. My critique of the space is that it didn't feel different enough from Cucina, which perhaps works against it, as people seem to think it's just a rehash of Cucina, which it's not. It was better than I'd expected. I'd go back for the porchetta and the cocktail alone.

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The reason I've never gone to Tempo is that I found Cucina so off-putting. And the reason I found Cucina so off-putting is precisely what bethala states: the stiff "corporate dining room" feel. It made Cucina seem provincial, like it had to meet some outdated criteria for being a "nice" restaurant because it was located in Brooklyn. The restaurants that followed avoided that syndrome.

But now I'm gonna have to go to Tempo. I mean, a cocktail (and one apparently made with Junipero!) and porchetta is kind of my idea of what it'll be like in eternity if I lead a good life.

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now i feel like i should go back to tempo soon. Sneakeater, as i’m sure you realize by now, tempo’s food is so not cucina-like, but the renovated decor is definitely not far enough removed from its past life. much as i respect their wine list, sounds like a cocktail and an appetizer at the bar might be a very nice way to go.

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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So you're that scary stick-shaking dude!

At least I don't wear a cape.

Excuse me, that was me with the cape.

I guess I'll give Tempo a try based on the above posts. I never thought Cucina was worth a special trip into Brooklyn, but times and attitudes change.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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FWIW, I never saw anything exciting about the food at Cucina, either. It seemed to me like Italian unnecessarily gussied up with 80s ideas about fancy plating. (This was in the 90s.) It always seemed strange to me that its original chef, Michael Ayoub, became such a star in the Brooklyn culinary firmament

But I never ate there under the guy who's now the chef at Tempo, and the food is reportedly very different anyway. And those posts sure do make it sound good.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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So you're that scary stick-shaking dude!

At least I don't wear a cape.

Excuse me, that was me with the cape.

I have a demented vision of the two of you walking down Fifth Avenue with cape and stick.

I think Tempo’s worthy of more than a drink and an appetizer in the bar (though there ain’t nothing wrong with that). If the large room makes you feel uncomfortable, ask to be seated in the smaller room in front (which is where they’d put you first anyway). I don’t find the smaller room stiff or uncomfortable, but maybe that’s just me.

Cucina was a zeitgeist restaurant, and everything that the Fifth Avenue restaurant scene is now is due to it, however faulty the origins. It’s hard to deconstruct it because it was popular due to its particular place in time. When they first opened, I thought they’d lose their shirts, but it was packed on opening night, and never faltered. It brought the moneyed restaurant-going crowd into that neighborhood, and once they stopped being shy about walking that section of street, everything turned.

And here I am talking about Cucina in the Tempo thread, after having said that it should be judged on its own merits. I’ll shut up now.

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I've only been to Tempo once, and since it's much more a neighborhood place than a destination (esp. coming from Columbia U), I doubt I'll be back (although I will be back to Al Di La sometime). I did enjoy my meal there for the most part, though.

One particular dish stands out in my memory as being quite delicious, and has earned a very regular spot in the rotation of what I cook at home:

Bucatini with Sicilian Pistachio Nut Pesto -- fagiolini beans, toasted breadcrumbs, pecorino

Really wonderful stuff.

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Also a big fan of this place. We live in the 'hood and often go for a quartino of wine (Montepulciano in my case), a cocktail , specifically the Sicilan Ice Tea (with an entire stem of rosemary, yum) and the small plates, which are lovely, as is the cheese plate. Amazingly nice service and a very different ambiance from most Park Slope eateries makes it a personal fav. Hope more people go!

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tempo is indeed a neighborhood place with a neighborhood vibe that nonetheless feels a bit different from the other local spots in park slope - perhaps a bit more "adult"? while i think the food could be considered "destination"-quality, i think the bland decor and atmosphere hold it back from attaining the come-to-brooklyn status that places like al di la have. but i live in park slope, so that's just fine with me.

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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So after reading all this I had to try Tempo.

I sat at the bar, and had a cocktail, some wine, the porchetta, and a pasta.

Tempo is neither as loveable nor as interesting as Al Di La (Tempo is pretty clearly a neighborhood place, whereas I could almost imagine traveling to get to Al Di La). But it is seriously good. I feel terrible for missing out on it so long.

The cocktail was the "Junipero 102". We are now living in a time where certain places have set the bar so ridiculously high for cocktails (and for bartending technique) that it's almost hard to appreciate an averagely good-to-very-good house cocktail. So no, this wasn't as fabulous as, say, the "Coming Up Roses" cocktail at the Bar Room at the Modern, and maybe the bartender didn't even use a jigger. But it tasted very good all the same. So there.

The wine list at this place is something to behold. Probably the best I've ever seen in Brooklyn. I can't wait to go back with friends so we can order from the bottle list. The "by the glass" list is misnamed, because they really serve by the quartino. That list obviously lacks the most interesting stuff from the main list. But it had a personal favorite (not the greatest wine by any means, but something that I just like) -- Sardinian vermentio -- so I'm not complaining.

Anyway, the food. The porchetta was as good as H. du Bois said it was. Nearly up to Mark Ladner standards.

The pasta -- a special -- was strozzapreti with speck (it was pork night there at the bar at Tempo) and peccorino. This was very good. Very very good. Good enough that it made me think I should go back there every night and run through their pasta menu.

So another good Fifth Avenue restaurant. Probably my second favorite on that stretch (after Al Di La, of course). I'm so grateful to you guys for pointing me to it.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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And yeah, the food is nothing like Cucina (at least in Cucina's early days, i.e., the last time I went).

right, glad to hear you confirm that, too. and that wine list is really good, isn't it?

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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I guess I'll give Tempo a try based on the above posts. I never thought Cucina was worth a special trip into Brooklyn, but times and attitudes change.

I'm pretty sure I said this, but I do want to be clear that I'm not sure I'd be making any trips into the borough just to go to Tempo. I thought it was very good, but it's not a destination.

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