Summer has begun (well, unofficially) and the warm weather evokes images of cool, silky ice cream and al fresco dining. Two places where I treated myself to dessert recently are Anopoli Ice Cream Parlor and Omonia Café. They may be polar opposites in terms of ambiance, but they share the common thread of great atmosphere and delicious food.
Anopoli Ice Cream Parlor has been a Bay Ridge mainstay for 115 years. The name and owners have changed over time, but it has continued to serve good food at reasonable prices to this neighborhood for over a century. NYC GO describes the eatery as an “old-school Greek diner” which has preserved original charm such as bronze candelabras hanging form the walls, a 10-foot lunch counter and a 12-foot high wooden candy display case. Manny Saviolakis, the current owner, took over the restaurant in 1995 and maintains the tradition of homemade ice cream, quality food and good service.
Not only is there homemade ice cream, but they have homemade candy, too. But this isn’t just an ice cream parlor or luncheonette – Anopoli carries a full dinner menu.
I haven’t been to Anopoli since I was young – I vividly remember fighting my brother for the last spoonful of an ice cream sundae. Recently, my husband and I brought our daughter here for dinner and, of course, ice cream. We were hoping to sit outdoors as I knew my daughter would want to run around, but that option was unavailable. And run around, she did… in the intimate, 65-seat eatery.
The staff at Anopoli was so kind and accommodating. They didn’t even blink an eye as my daughter ran beneath them as they were carrying hot plates of food. They even went out of their way to provide her with endless straws and crackers.
Every once in a while, I have to get my fill of good diner food and this hit the spot. I had the (heart healthy) chicken souvlaki and my husband ordered the turkey burger. Both met my expectations and were delicious. And, well, we couldn’t leave without some homemade ice cream. The maple walnut and butter pecan ice cream sundae was creamy and not too sweet. My family will definitely be back to eat at Anopoli…some families have actually been dining here for generations.
Omonia Café in Bay Ridge is another popular coffeehouse and eatery. It has recently undergone major renovations and is quite sleek and, honestly, looks like a hip lounge flanked with yummy pastries. (Not that pastries need showcasing, but this place does a great job of it.) This café was the hangout 10 or so years ago, so a lot of people were awaiting the grand re-opening.
Lots of clean, sleek, Mediterranean white make up the restaurant now, complete with an espresso bar. They kept the outdoor area which now showcases a wall of white vases with water trickling over them. (Beautiful, but be careful with young kids and the small waterpool). They now serve some basic, popular food items (wraps and paninis, breakfast foods) and Greek classics, like spinach pie. This is what I ordered the first time I visited the renovated Omonia and enjoyed it. Not too much feta cheese, not too salty.
The second time I came here, it was specifically for dessert. I was there at about 7 PM on a Sunday evening and the club music was too loud for conversation. I had the raspberry mousse and my mother had a traditional Greek pastry of crème, phyllo and almond sponge cake. It was light and delicious. My mousse was good, too, especially if you like things sweet. From the reviews I’ve read, Greek pastries, coffee and frappe drinks are their specialty. At the new prices (a cup of tea is around $3.00), I’d suggest going to Omonia for something you would not make at home (unless you have a Greek grandma making baklava from a recipe she’s devoted to memory).
Depending on your agenda, Anopoli or Omonia will satisfy your sweet tooth in Bay Ridge. Anopoli is located at 6920 3rd Avenue and Omonia is at 7612 3rd Ave in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Theresa Gentile MS, RD, CDN is a dietitian at Maimonides Medical Center, adjunct faculty at CUNY Brooklyn College and counsels adults and children using sound science and holistic approaches to eating. Check out her website at www.theresagentilenutrition.com and like her on facebook www.facebook.com/TGNutrition.
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