Brooklyn Star:

Former Momofuku partner Joaquin Baca has gone solo in Williamsburg, with this handsome little restaurant a few blocks from the L train. The Southern comfort menu includes options such as corn bread ($4), Dr. Pepper Ribs ($16), Fried Pig Tails ($11), BBQ Catfish with grits and fried cucumbers ($13), and Smothered Porkchop with scalloped tomatoes and string beans. Inside the open kitchen, a 100-plus-year-old oven, a relic from when the place used to be a pizzeria, imbues the food with the appropriate degree of smokiness. NY Mag finds out how much money Baca spent to make his dream a reality, and here's the menu from Brooklyn Star's website. No liquor license yet, but they do have plenty of cool, refreshing ice tea and root beer! 33 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn; (718) 599-9899

Jo's: Chef Colin Alevras's restaurant The Tasting Room was a hit among gourmands when he operated out of a dainty, 24-seat restaurant on First Street; his subsequent relocation to a bigger space on Elizabeth Street backfired and the place closed last year. Opening in its stead is this "affordable American bistro" from Jim Chu (White Rabbit), Johnny Santiago, and Kevin Felker. In a concession to the recession, chef Ian Topper-Kapitan's menu features both half and full-sized pastas, and entrees with or without sides. A slow-roasted duck breast is $15, or $20 with gratin potatoes and baby carrots; the 10 hour pork shank is $15, or $20 with cockles, english peas, and bok choy. There's a 30-seat bar room in the front, and a rustic exposed brick and wood-planked dining room in back, replete with antler chandeliers. (See Eater for images and menu.) 264 Elizabeth Street; (212) 966-9640

Locanda Verdi: Ago, the restaurant co-owned by Robert DeNiro in Tribeca's Greenwich Hotel, closed not long after giving the world one of the most entertaining Frank Bruni pans in recent memory. It's now reopened with chef Andrew Carmellini (A Voce) behind the wheel, with a shiny new interior design by Ken Friedman (The Spotted Pig, The John Dory) His menu tries for casual Italian, with most entrees in the $18 to $25 range. Those include Mezzi Rigatoni with lamb amatraciana, Wood Fired Broccoli Rabe Sausage with fagioli stufato, and Fire-Roasted Garlic Chicken for Two. 379 Greenwich Street; (212) 925-3797