The "bad-boy uncle basement bar" aesthetic that's proven so popular at Williamsburg honky-tonk Skinny Dennis has been richly expanded upon at Rocka Rolla, a deluxe new neighborhood dive with something for everyone—as long as everyone's cool with classic hard rock and hair metal. Located next to the BQE overpass on Metropolitan and Rodney, the well-appointed bar evokes an innocent, less fastidious era, when feathered hair, a jean jacket, and KISS tickets were all you needed for a good time. And maybe a cooler full of Genny Cream Ale for the parking lot.
"Hair metal is priceless and everyone loves it but no one wants to admit," argues exuberant co-owner Bill Mack, who has used his bars Lucky Dog and Skinny Dennis as a way to indulge his addiction to vintage illuminated Breweriana signs. (The pièce de résistance at Rocka Rolla is a three-dimensional 1969 Bud carousel sign, hovering like a dream over the bar.) "Let's get back to the real shit," says Mack. "Do a rock bar. AC/DC. Judas Priest. Motley Crue. I wanna open the bar I grew up with."
And so he has. Mack and his partner Sal Fristensky have had their eye on the corner spot for years—it was most recently occupied by Brooklyn Stable, and before that a Greek restaurant called Odessa. Now it's been transformed into a laidback jewel-box temple to robust rock and cheap suds. Unlike Skinny Dennis there will be no live music, but a well-curated jukebox covers all your hits from 1975-85. And in a back corner peeking out from behind the horseshoe bar, there's shuffleboard, pinball, a poster of Farrah Fawcett, and a sexy mannequin in lingerie. You know, the essentials.
Rocka Rolla revels in Schooner glasses—giant 18 oz goblets that make you feel like the king of beers, and for just $3 you can fill one to the brim with Budweiser. A 16 oz. can of Tecate is $5. They're also pouring a tidy selection of craft beers, including Sixpoint and Brooklyn Lager, which will set you back just $5 for 18 oz... a surprisingly reasonable price for Williamsburg 2014. The wildly popular Uncle Willie's Frozen Coffee has been brought over from Skinny Dennis, and high rollers will enjoy a selection of potent speciality cocktails designed to get you pleasantly bombed without ever knowing it.
In the back patio, the original Endless Summer Taco Truck has been carved up and transformed into a small grill, where a stomach-girding menu of sliders and bratwurst and fries are served, to be enjoyed at a cluster of tables under the rumbling overpass. The atmosphere, inside and out, is a throwback to a somewhat grittier, looser Williamsburg, before the J-Crew and the condos and boutiques turned the neighborhood so precious and fussy. It's only a rock and roll bar, but you'll like it.
Rocka Rolla, located at 486 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, opens tonight. The back patio will close at midnight on weeknights and 2 a.m. on weekends, while the interior bar continues filling up Schooners until 4 a.m.