Faces who are new to Greenpoint might best recognize Paloma for its owner and chef, Camille Becerra, a Season 3 Top Chef contestant (and early departure). Others might just head there for their touted “Urban American Cuisine,” a mix of restaurant, artspace, and convivial Greenpoint gathering spot that serves up food, drink, and oftentimes live music and DVD and television projections. Gothamist visited with a table of friends on a recent night after a successful bowling match at newly opened bar, The Gutter (which features eight vintage bowling lanes adjacent its bar). Paloma is a short walk from The Gutter’s N. 14th Street address on the Williamsburg and Greenpoint border, where food options can otherwise be sparse.
A warm wooden bar counter graces the entrance, reflective of a thorough cocktail menu and a selection of vodka infusions created by Camille herself. The rest of the space is long and narrow, best described as modern, but industrial: high ceilings and long white walls with splashes of bold art and video. A deejay booth is located in the center, and the night we went the projector showcased the latest episode of Top Chef, either mocking or an homage to the restaurant's owner.
The prices at Paloma are the real bait--fantastic for the quality of the food--and while privy to inconsistency, there are dishes we’re eager to go back for again. The first of these is the appetizer of salt cod fritters with house relish, lightly fried and piping hot (be careful not to burn the roof of your mouth), and a second is the seared scallops appetizer with creamed corn, a wonderful marriage of sea and sweet.
Entrees range from about $9 - $16; everything is good, but little exceptional. The grass fed beef burger ($9) with the optional addition of cheese or bacon ($1) came cooked more well done than requested, but our mid-westerner at the table claimed it still tasty and tender. The coriander seared tuna and warm fingerling potato salad offered generous slabs of rare pesto-doused fish on a bed of greens--again tasty, but hardly memorable. One dining companion enjoyed the parmesan-crusted tilapia, which came with a side of cous cous and a microgreens salad dotted with pumpkin seeds, while another plate of pan-seared tilapia with grilled asparagus, beets, beet tops, and walnuts--requested with just the asparagus--seemed sparse when on the plate.
Our favorite dish of the night was the 1/2 roasted free range chicken served atop an oversized potato pancake and sauteed greens--a stacked presentation calling for you to carve away bite sized sections of bird with the salty, crispy pancake and greens until you'd devoured the whole thing. The menu continues to hit or miss--fabulously thick french fries, and some of the best, and lightest buttermilk onion rings I've tasted made us wish we'd gotten two orders--but a special salad of dandelion greens, goat cheese, plum, and roasted pumpkin was bitter at some bites, far too fruity on others.
The menu is vegetarian-friendly and fare comes in generous portion sizes with nightly specials that are fresh and creative. Unpretentious as it tries to be a restaurant, bar, and multifunctional space for art, music, and visuals, the food will fill you up and keep you happy, even if it doesn't change your life.
Paloma is located at 60 Greenpoint Ave and open Tues - Sat, 5:30 - 11:30 p.m. and Sunday from 5:30 - 10:30 p.m. 718.349.2400.