Yesterday Sam Sifton filed a review on Bushwick pizza/hipster paradise Roberta's, calling it "one of the more extraordinary restaurants in the United States" and bestowing a glowing two stars upon it. Which is great news for the restaurant, but bad news for Bushwick.
First things first: the food at Roberta's is good. This writer has been there twice in the past month (including last night), and the restaurant has indeed come a long way from its humble beginnings—the kitchen has an exceptional knack for combining ingredients in wholly unique, successful ways. But with great success comes great crowds, and this latest coronation from the Times—following their two previous positive reviews—is likely the final nail in Bushwick's coolness coffin. Case in point? Adrian Grenier was dining there last night with a beautiful blond on his arm.
When Roberta's first opened in 2008, Bushwick was already deep into its tenure as a haven for hipsters, artists and wannabe artists, but it was still relatively isolated from trend-hopping foodie outsiders. Roberta's was described as a "DIY pizzeria" run by a bunch of frazzled, if friendly, musician buddies. Now, the once-desolate blocks surrounding Roberta's are home to Fair Trade-brewing coffeeshops and organic wine stores, and the crowds of stroller-pushing Manhattan mommy-types crowding Roberta's backyard cement its status as destination dining. The two-hour wait times for a table are just the icing on the cake.
The restaurant mostly deserves the praise—they've worked hard and continue to do so, expanding their mini-empire with a backyard farm, in-house radio station, and an outpost in the so-hot-right now Rockaways. But for the scruffy locals who were Roberta's first customers, the throngs of Bushwick day-trippers feel like an invasion, an affront to the original punk-rock spirit of the Roberta's of days past.