Along 65th Street near Fort Hamilton Parkway in Brooklyn are a number of culinary gems: The sidewalk-sprawling Three Guys Produce, billed as “The Original Poor Person’s Friend;” Asian markets with fresh shiso and lily bulbs, and also the legendary, cafeteria-style Rocco’s Calamari. With a fledgling greenmarket in nearby Leif Ericson Park, this Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights/Bensonhurst interzone has quietly become a destination for inexpensive, quality provisions.
The three Royal Crown Magnifico locations should also be at the top of the shopping list. South of 65th Street, at 6512 Fourteenth Avenue, is Royal Crown Paneantico, specializing in sfogliatelle, Sicilian sweets, and a full line of breads. North of 65th on Fourteenth Avenue next door to each other are Paneantico II and Royal Crown Magnifico Panini, a full service café with a hot and cold line, a few patio seats, and a workhorse espresso machine. There’s a standard selection of hot or sweet Capicollo, Mortadella, and Soppressatto paninis, with customizable add-ons like olive paste, marinated artichokes, and melted fontina. The Eggplant Parmigiana ($7.50) is especially good, with thick slices of the lightly batter fried vegetable, in sweet sauce with fresh mozzarella.
At Paneantico II, try the chocolate bread ($3), a triangular loaf with semisweet chips blast-baked into the top, the inside studded with white chocolate crumbles. Ciabatta ($2.50) and Italian-style baguettes at all Royal Crown Magnifico locations are quite possibly the best bread in Brooklyn, really- chewy and light on the inside, flaky and malty on the outside. At the Paneantico II location, baked goods are set out on wire Metro shelves up front shortly after they’ve come out of the oven. The display racks for the bread are also its resting racks. It doesn’t get better than this.
Royal Crown Magnifico
6314 Fourteenth Avenue
6512 Fourteenth Avenue
Photo: Bread resting at Paneantico II