The rooftop bar and restaurant at Williamsburg's Hoxton Hotel has, like most of the city's vista-forward venues — there are at least four such aeries on this stretch of Wythe Avenue alone — been serving food entirely unworthy of its views since it first opened in the fall in 2018.
Not any more. As of last week, the Hoxton's rooftop is home to Laser Wolf, a fantastic Israel-style shipudiya (skewer house) that comes to us via Philadelphia (and Chicago). Named after Lazar Wolf, the butcher in the iconic Jewish musical "Fiddler on the Roof," it's an instant contender, in a very crowded field, for Brooklyn's best new restaurant.
The ownership story is a bit complicated. Laser Wolf Brooklyn is a partnership between CookNSolo, chef Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook's Philadelphia-based restaurant group, which operated the very good hummus cafe Dizengoff in the Chelsea Market back in 2016, and boasts the likes of the acclaimed Zahav, the beloved Federal Donuts and the original Laser Wolf in its portfolio; and the Chicago-based Boka Restaurant Group, headed by Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz. Boehm and Solomonov are old friends, Boka runs a couple of spots in the Hoxton out in the Midwest and things kind of fell into place from there.
"I'm just excited that it's finally here," Boehm told Gothamist during Laser Wolf's opening week. "Mike and I have been talking about doing something like this for a long, long time, and it's a lot more fun to do it than talk about it. And look at this great big beautiful piece of art we have in the dining room!" he said, gesturing at the view of the East River, and the Manhattan skyline beyond.
But even if you come to Laser Wolf Brooklyn for the lovely vistas and vibes, both of which are lovely, you'll return for the food, which is amazing. "This is a traditional way to eat in Israel," the James Beard Award-winning Solomonov said. "Pre-Zahav we would do all this refining, all this technique-driven stuff, and then we'd go home to Israel and sit down at a casual restaurant, or shipudiya, and all these different salads would come out, and fresh bread, and meat cooked over charcoal. And it was like, why aren't we doing this back in America? This is how we all want to eat!"
The pricing structure is a bit unusual. A single skewer, or serving, of meat, fish or vegetables ranges from $43 for the eggplant to $48 for the BBQ short rib and $54 for the tuna. But your entree comes with so many starters and sides (the salatim), plus a large bowl of tricked-out rice and a hefty, thoughtfully composed dessert, that it's best to think of Laser Wolf as a 14-course tasting menu restaurant. And in that regard, it's actually a bargain.
Laser Wolf's setting stirs up excitement the moment you step off the elevator, but the party really kicks into high gear when the hummus and salatim (literally "salads") hits the table. It's not the typical sort of NYC restaurant mezze, either. Yes, you get some good Babaganoush and a pile of snappy Israeli Pickles, and the Hummus is superb, as is the spongy pita that goes with. But there are loads of dishes in this circle of delights that are far more uncommon, at least to me.
And everything is so good.
The Yemenite Potato Salad, the Mushrooms with Chard and Sour Cherry, the Beans with those bright green Castelvetrano Olives, the Cabbage with Fennel and a fiery schug, the Snap Peas with Amba and Grapes... it's all killer, no filler. Shout out to executive chef Andrew Henshaw and chef de cuisine Mike Mayo, who will be handling the daily duties here in Brooklyn.
To get the salatim, you have to order something from the grill, and there are plenty of appealing choices. My party of two went with the Lamb and Beef Koobideh, the minced meat beautifully charred, juicy and wonderfully seasoned, and the Tuna Shishlik, with chunks of fish left raw in the center and covered in chili oil. We also got to sample the meaty Mushroom Shishlik, and it, too, was delicious. Other entree options include a Chicken Shishlik, a grilled Shawarma-Spiced Cauliflower, and a Bulgarian Beef Kebab.
They could have handed us just about anything for dessert and we still would have left happy (and extremely full), but Laser Wolf is a classy joint, and the finisher here is a beautiful sundae of Brown Sugar Soft Serve with syrupy sour cherries and a generous dusting of crushed pistachios and "crispies" on top.
And if for some reason you're not in the mood for such a feast, or simply want to add more goodies to your already-overflowing table, there are a few a la carte dishes at Laser Wolf too, like the sticky Date-Harissa Wings, or the bowl of French Fries with tehina ketchup that's getting a lot of love in the early going.
With food this good and a format that's this much fun, I'd love Laser Wolf if it were located in a Times Square basement... but the views and breezes certainly are a welcome bonus. The early evening was extremely pleasant up here — they gave me "house sunglasses" when the clouds parted and it became a bit squinty — but nighttime might be even better, with all those twinkling lights.
Laser Wolf Brooklyn is located on the roof of the Hoxton Hotel, 97th Wythe Avenue at the corner of North 10th Street, and is currently open on Sunday through Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Thursday through Saturday from 5:00 until 1:00 a.m. (718-215-7150)
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Michael Solomonov's name was spelled incorrectly.