[Pigging by Wilfrid: July 13, 2012]
Four years ago, a pizzeria called Roberta's opened on a grubby block of Bushwick in a neighborhood featuring light industry and a huge Boar's Head factory.
The Morgan, an ambitious tavern-restaurant just a step from Roberta's was downgraded into a cheap Thai, then closed. Life Café, for what it's worth, is set to close. Northeast Kingdom remains a neighborhood bistro standby. Anything else? Well there's the chimi burger at BurgerItUp. I was complaining about this to a friend (and manager of a restaurant in Williamsburg) who lives on Jefferson Street, and he said: "Café Ghia. Pretty good. Try it."
And he was right. Like nearby Mazelle, it's not much more than a corner bar; dark, a few tables. Unlike Mazelle, where life really reduces to scotch eggs and dumplings, it does serve a reasonably full menu: not just the salads and sandwiches you'll find on the Website, but entrée specials, charcuterie and cheeses.
Simple stuff, but good. My first impromptu dinner there featured a pork loin with mashed potatoes. Yes, that's all. A good hunk of tender roast pork, a heap of rough, creamy mash. I started with some slippery, house-cured duck prosciutto and a basket of flatbread -- good when warm, chewy when cold.
I returned for a couple of other cold meats -- the chicken liver mousse, also made in house, and a sweet, herby wild board sausage. The meats can be ordered individually, and they came with a bowl of fresh fruit.
Ghia tries to keep the neighborhood covered with vegetarian and vegan options. The vegan stir fry was liked.
There was a steak on the menu, but I was drawn back to the pork again. Pulled pork -- not quite a sandwich, but served over a slab of skillet cornbread. A huge portion, topped with a little BBQ sauce and a lot of house made coleslaw.
Hearty, well-made food, kind prices (mains in the teens). Be clear: unlike Roberta's, this is not a restaurant to travel for. But if you're in the neighborhood, and don't want to wait an hour in Roberta's holding pen, this is currently one of the only alternatives.