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Chewing the fat! Bay Ridgite creates online foodie forum for Southern Brooklyn

Cuisine connoisseur: Foodie Frank Tilelli founded the “South Brooklyn Food and Drink” Facebook group to get people out of the house and into Bay Ridge and Southern Brooklyn restaurants like Casa Calamari.
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A Bay Ridgite aims to get locals out of their homes and culinary comfort zones with an online forum devoted to exploring Southern Brooklyn cuisine.

The Facebook group started as just a causal space for friends to chat about local grub, but in a mere two months it has ballooned to a full fledged foodie forum with 1,500 members who highlight eateries in oft-overlooked nabes. It has helped locals acquire a taste for trying new things, said the group’s founder.

“South Brooklyn doesn’t get as much coverage, and nothing makes me sadder than to walk down Third Avenue and see perfectly good restaurants with nobody in them,” said Bay Ridgite Frank Tilelli. “I feel it’s been a while since someone went out of their way to put Bay Ridge, South Brooklyn food on the map. And the group is a community thing. So this way things won’t get lost in the sauce, so to speak.”

Tilelli founded the Facebook group, “South Brooklyn Food and Drink,” in March, inspired by the former chef of Bay Ridge steak house Chadwick’s, who in 2013 won an episode of the Food Network’s show “Chopped!”

“That was the first time in a long time that someone put South Brooklyn food out there,” said Tilelli. “And especially now, Facebook is a lot of politics and people just being nasty to each other. So I said, ‘I like culinary stuff, let me combine that to try and start something positive where people can have fun.’ ”

Locals post meal snaps with brief reviews of restaurants, nearby foodie news and events, how-to videos, and swap recipes for some ambitious eats, including London broil prepared with a coffee and spice rub, a rack of hickory lamb, and ebelskiver — Danish pancakes.

It has become a space for locals to chew the fat on all things foodie in Southern Brooklyn and beyond. But Tilelli wasn’t expecting it to ripen into a recipe book.

“The whole home-cook thing was a surprise because I really didn’t expect people to do that as much as they’re doing,” said Tilelli. “I’m kind of a home cook, but people started posting things and I said, ‘Damn, I gotta up my game.’ I’m proud of it.”

Aside from getting the creative juices flowing, the trio who run the group hope people will venture out of the house and try a new restaurant, a new type of food, and just put a twist on whatever routine they’ve fallen into.

“It’s a fun escape,” said Bay Ridgite Vladimir Vizner, who helps Tilelli run the group along with fellow Ridgite Bianca Papas. “It’s an interactive way for people to discuss local eateries and it’s geared toward a Brooklyn crowd. It’s a fun escape,”

In the future, the trio of moderators hope to organize meet ups to tour Bay Ridge and explore other nabes’ grub.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 12:04 pm, May 30, 2017
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