2008_03_reds_produce.jpgJust a few feet off of the BQE’s Hamilton Avenue exit and next to the Battery Tunnel toll plaza is an assortment of auto wreckers and chain link fences. On Columbia Street between Ralpelye and Summit Street are a couple of neighborhood institutions like the venerable Moonshine bar, whose floor is paved with discarded peanut shells. In the last few weeks, (and somewhat stealthily), a new tapas bar and grocer called Reds Produce has also opened on the same stretch.

“Every bean and every Piquillo pepper here is imported,” says Rishi Puntes, one of Reds’ owners, referring to the restaurant’s display of canned and jarred groceries by the front window. Daily operations come with neighborhood support: Breakfast pastries are supplied by Margaret Palca Bakes, and the restaurant uses coffee beans roasted on Court Street by D’Amico. Come warmer weather, Reds Produce will live up to its name and sell vegetables supplied through Urban Organic.

“Our goal here,” Puntes said yesterday, “is to provide a true tapas bar, in the wake of New York haute cuisine, where tapas are overdressed and overpriced.” The menu is simple: Tortilla Española ($4), Boquerones ($4), assorted olives ($3), bocadillos, and a dozen meat and cheese choices. Puntes, who was born in Zaragoza, Spain, has been booking an arts program of sorts at the 28-seat restaurant. Acoustic music, projected student films, and possibly a little flamenco will play at Reds weekend nights.

The most expensive menu items at Reds are its salads, at $8 for a large size. “We’re here to provide true tapas, the working man’s tapas,” says Puntes. True to form, the restaurant is closed daily from 2-5 for siesta. Reds Produce currently opens at 7 AM, and closes at 10 PM. Tapas extended till midnight, draught beer from Spain, and wine coming soon.

Reds Produce, 289 Columbia Street, Brooklyn (718) 506-5432