Today we stop by Brooklyn Victory Garden, a Clinton Hill shop specializing in regionally produced meats, dairy, bread and…just about anything, really. They started making sandwiches about a year ago. We thought we probably ought to try one. But what should we get? Co-owner Tom Bartos suggests the Bellini.
So Tom, what’s good?
How ‘bout a sandwich?
Always a good way to go. You have one in mind?
The Bellini’s a good one. It sort of embodies everything we do here. Almost everything in the shop is from local or regional producers, from milk to meat to maple syrup. The Bellini is prosciutto from Salumeria Biellese with creamed ricotta from Narragansett Creamery, arugula from Satur Farms and Bellini Jam and Pub Mustard from Stonewall Kitchen, on a ciabatta roll from Amy’s Bread.
So these are all great products and they work really well together in the sandwich. Salumeria Biellese has been in Manhattan since something like 1925. They make their prosciutto with pastured, local Berkshire pigs, and it’s pretty fantastic. They cure the meat themselves.
Narragansett Creamery is a cheesemaker in Rhode Island. They source all their milk from neighboring farms. Their ricotta is incredibly light and delicate and wonderful, with a touch of sweetness. The creamed ricotta is their ricotta blended with Ben’s Cream Cheese. Ben’s Cream Cheese is legendary, mysterious stuff. The guy who makes it has been making it since the seventies and he uses milk from local cows upstate, and it’s the most luxurious cream cheese you’ve ever had. Other than that, no one knows much about it. The blend of the two is really delicious.
Satur Farms is out on Long Island. The farm was started by the chef who opened Le Bernardin and his wife, who grew up farming. Their arugula and all their produce is always really great.
And then I think the most important part comes last – the Bellini Jam and the Pub Mustard from Stonewall Kitchen in Maine. The Bellini Jam is made with peaches and prosecco. The Pub Mustard is a pretty traditional mustard with a nice kick.
So all together, there’s a lot of savory and sweet things happening in this mustard. The prosciutto brings that intensely, savory, meaty flavor that goes really nicely with the slightly sweet creaminess of the creamed ricotta and the fruitiness of Bellini jam. The vinegar and spice in the mustard and the peppery flavor of the arugula are a really nice counterpoint to the savory prosciutto, the sweet, creamy ricotta, and the jam. And that’s all on a ciabatta from Amy’s. It’s a really nice sandwich.
Sounds good. How did you come up with this?
We have a few sandwiches. We’ve always liked prosciutto on sandwiches, and we like to play around and try different things. There’s something about this one that really balances sweet and savory in a way that’s pretty fantastic. With sandwiches, I think it’s all about finding that right mix of sweet and savory. That’s what we were looking for with this one, and we found it. [laughter.] This is just pure comfort food.
How did you guys end up opening up the shop? Where did this whole thing get started?
I’m from like five different states west of the Mississppi. I guess Houston was the place I spent the most time in as a kid. My dad worked for Motorola in the 70s and 80s, right when cell phones were first coming onto the market – back when they were the size and weight of a brick. [laughter.] His job moved us around a lot.
Acting brought me to New York. I still act. My wife Tess is from upstate, near Ithaca. We met doing a play years and years and years ago. Eventually she got tired of the grind of trying to be a professional actor, and she started getting really interested in food. She got kind of hooked on finding farmers who were raising animals for dairy and meat in a really good way – so, pastured animals and the products made with their milk and meat.
We live right around the corner. There was nowhere around here to get that sort of thing. Eventually, she thought, “I’m tired of going to Manhattan or Williamsburg for meat from animals that live on pasture and that aren’t loaded up with antibiotics and hormones. Why not open a shop that sells that kind of stuff here?” She really liked the idea of bringing food of the sort that our grandparents would have recognized back to the neighborhood. I guess we just thought that if you’re going to eat meat or dairy, why would you mess with the animal it comes from and pump it full of all this strange stuff before you eat it? It doesn’t make any sense. [laughter.]
So here we are. We opened up two years ago and we’ve been going strong ever since.
Brooklyn Victory Garden is located at 920 Fulton Street, between Washington Ave. and St. James Place, in Clinton Hill.
Photography by Morgan Ione Yeager. All rights Reserved.