Spotlight on Clinton Hill and Fort Greene

For my first few years in NYC, I lived in a big, poorly maintained apartment in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, with friends. I’ll save our horror stories for when I get around to writing about the hellish process that is apartment hunting, but the neighborhood (and the cheap rent) almost made up for the apartment’s deficiencies.

My old roommates would be able to tell you more about the great restaurants to be found in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. I, sadly, am a picky eater, so I’ll tell you about my favorite pizza place, and some of my other favorite spots around the neighborhood.
Luigi’s is a tiny hole-in-the-wall pizzeria on Dekalb Ave, between Washington and Hall. It has a counter, and a window, but no seating. And it sells the best NYC plain slice I’ve come across. Big, hot, cheesy and greasy, with good sauce. I miss the pizza from home, with its chewy bread-like crust, and Luigi’s is nothing like it, but it’s my top pick for a cheap slice. None of the pizza places near my current apartment can touch it.
Once you’ve acquired your slice at Luigi’s, it’s a half block walk to the Pratt University campus, the perfect place to sit and enjoy your pizza. The campus is surrounded by a fence, but it’s open to the public during the day. The portion near Luigi’s is especially lovely. I’m a sucker for grassy courtyards, and Pratt’s is enhanced by an eclectic sculpture park filled with huge works of art. It’s also home to the “Pratt cats”, a number of strays who wander in and out of one of the buildings on campus.
If it’s a Saturday, it’s worth wandering over to the Brooklyn Flea, located in the warm months at Vanderbilt and Lafayette. After November 23 it will move into the beautiful building at One Hanson place, over near Flatbush Ave (also fun to visit!). The Flea has everything from junk you might find at a tag sale to expensive hand-carved furniture, so it’s great to wander when you’re looking for nothing too specific as well as when you’re on a mission. The real draw of course is the food vendors. Again, I’m not big on food recommendations, but even I can tell you the popsicles at People’s Popsare amazing, as are the hotdogs at Asia Dog.
If you’re looking for something slightly healthier (and it’s still a Saturday, any time of the year), head over to Fort Greene Park, at Dekalb and Cumberland, for the farmer’s market I mentioned last week. The cider donuts there are my favorites, and the market sells all the normal fruits, veggies, baked goods, etc.
The park itself, designed as Central Park was, by Olmstead, is small but lovely, with a hill to climb up or lie on in the summer. While you can’t quite get lost in it – the nearby buildings are visible – the city does recede slightly, there.
I’ve skimmed the surface on these neighborhoods. There are tons of restaurants here, the Brooklyn Academy of Music is nearby as are Atlantic Mall and the Barclays Center. But when I lived there, these places I’ve described were some of the places that became part of my routine, my first routine as a New Yorker, so they hold an especially warm place in my heart.
Any favorite spots (in Clinton Hill, or in your first neighborhood) to share?

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