It’s the house special

Brooklyn Daily
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Make yourself at home, but don’t get too comfortable.

The new and already popular restaurant Battersby on Smith Street is a crammed, seven-table affair with easygoing service and the kind of casual, exposed-brick, candle-lit, “welcome to my living room” feel Brooklynites have comes to expect from many of the borough’s new restaurants — but the elegance of the food will surprise.

“It’s an elevated dining experience in casual situation,” said Joseph Ogrodnek, who co-owns and co-chefs Battersby with longtime friend and business partner Walker Stern.

The meal began with an amuse bouche of celery root and chestnut soup, a perfectly nutty, buttery sip that warmed the palate, along with a house-made rosemary focaccia and light, milky whipped ricotta.

It was the kitchen’s way of way of saying, “you’re in for something special” — and the kitchen is never without its chefs.

“We’re here all the time,” said Ogrodnek, “so every single plate and each component of each plate is touched by us. It’s really a part of us.”

The small, open kitchen, which is tucked into the back corner of the dining room, continued to impress as each course arrived, the next being an appetizer of roasted broccoli with pecorino, lemon, and watercress highlighted the deep, earthy flavors of the broccoli — it was not your mother’s steamed version. Next came a single, gently cooked veal sweetbread with baby romaine, Caesar dressing, capers, and a dousing of crunchy breadcrumbs. The dish made eating sweetbreads taste so familiar — and so good.

Everything the restaurant serves — from the bread and pasta to the charcuterie and ice cream — is made in-house.

A dish of pappardelle with duck ragu and olives was rich and filling. The was pasta thick and eggy and well matched with the buttery ragu. The real standout was a bowl of steaming rigatoni — carried by smoky bacon, Brussels sprouts, arugula and breadcrumbs — which highlighted Battersby’s ability to elevate the familiar to high art through serious skill and attention to detail.

Other entrees include an inventive short rib pastrami and a decadent roasted lobster with pearl onions and coral sauce.

Battersby isn’t cheap, but you could get away with a full meal for less than you’d spend at many Manhattan restaurants offering the same level of food. And this time, you won’t have to leave Brooklyn.

“We really like the neighborho­od,” said Ogrodnek.

“We use quality ingredients, we put a lot of work into it, and people really appreciate it.”

Battersby [255 Smith St. between Douglass and Degraw streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 852–8321,]. Mon.–Sat. 5:30–11 pm, Sun. 5:30–10 pm.

Updated 8:45 pm, January 28, 2013
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