d.b.a.: A Get-Together and Drink Destination

Casual digs and world-class drinks are hard to beat for a group get-together, and that’s just the combination you’ll find at the East Village’s d.b.a., one of New York’s most beloved beer bars. Step through the door and marvel at the chalkboard listing what’s on offer. You’ll find a long line of draft beers, joined by strong ales, barley wines, and over a hundred more brews by the bottle. Or maybe it’s a whiskey night. Impress your crew by navigating a single-malt Scotch list that runs from Speyside to Islay, or sample a selection of bourbons from Kentucky, Tennessee, and even New York.

If it gets a bit too intimate inside the wood-paneled bar, head to the backyard, where plastic lawn furniture belies the beauty of the space. Ancient stone walls add character, and a leafy array joins the roof in protecting you from the elements. The space is primed for kicking back, and the crowd is friendly— with all the “better stuff” on offer, an upbeat scene is only to be expected.

This article brought to you by MasterCard.

[Photo: Jebb]

This Week’s NYC Happenings: Sea Witch, Family Recipe, Veg Food Festival

THURSDAY: NYC Beer Week Chugs Along
NYC Beer Week is underway, with 300 hopped-up events spread across the city. Catch choice pints at the Williamsburg Cask Beer Festival at d.b.a., Funky Jewbelation Thursday night at Barcade, and the Sunday afternoon closing bash at La Birreria. On Thursday night let one-buck oysters, DJ Teeth, and rare drafts from Smuttynose lure you to neighborhood fave Sea Witch in the South Slope.

Beer and oysters at Sea Witch (703 Fifth Ave., Park Slope) kick off at 7pm on Thursday the 28th. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Sake Goodness
Chef Akiko Thurnauer has been turning out creative Japanese to rave reviews at Family Recipe for over a year now. This Wednesday, join two experts as they pair eight sakes with selections from the winter menu.

The Midwinter Sake Social at Family Recipe (231 Eldridge St., Lower East Side) runs from 8pm to 11pm Wednesday the 27th. Advance tickets are $48. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Vegetarian cuisine has come a long way from mock fish and carrot bacon. Check out the fruits of the movement this weekend at the Vegetarian Food Festival, when the likes of The Butcher’s Daughter and Beyond Sushi join the third-annual event at the Metropolitan Pavilion.

The NYC Vegetarian Food Festival at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 W. 18th St., Chelsea) starts 10am on both Saturday and Sunday, March 2nd and 3rd. General admission tickets are $5. To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Industry Insiders: Andrew Carmellini, Verde with Envy

Andrew Carmellini, head chef at Tribeca’s Locanda Verde and co-author (with wife Gwen Hyman) of home cooking-savvy cookbook, Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food, has cooked at some of the finest eateries around the world but remains modest about his culinary experiences. In New York, he’s gone from the kitchen of Le Cirque to Café Boulud to A Voce, and rumors of “all you can eat’ pasta night” at Locanda have been turning heads recently. We’ve been told that dinners such as these are not planned to start until January … we’ll see.

How is business at Locanda? Locanda is jamming right now and it’s a lot of fun. No complaints business wise … right now we are just trying to maintain and keep people happy.

What made you choose to serve family-style food on this menu? Before we opened, I was kind of talking about serving family style and how we were going to do it, and then we started and it morphed into a sharing concept. I actually bought these huge family-style platters in Italy and then realized that my tables were too small. It’s not really family style as much as we encourage people just to order a bunch of stuff for the table. That’s what most people do. People like to get a little bit of cicchetti, a couple of appetizers and pastas. Maybe afterwards, people will order individual entrees.

What are some of the most popular dishes? The blue crab crostino, we sell probably the most out of everything. We sell a lot of chicken. We’re doing chicken in the wood fire oven, just really simple.

What’s the secret to delivering quality products at low price points? We are cooking the same way I used to when I was at Café Boulud and at A Voce and more higher, star-rated places that are using maybe more high-end ingredients, and they cook the same. So you’re getting quality ingredients, just not super luxury ingredients. We’re cooking to order. We’re going to the market four days a week. We’re getting a lot of the same stuff; just making choices along the way. Instead of having pork four ways on a plate like we did before, we give you a great pork chop or great homemade sausage.

What are you favorite markets? Down the street, we have the Tribeca market on the weekend. Mostly, I’m at Union Square. The green market thing, I’ve been doing that since the green market started. I think if you’re an American chef now, it’s just part of being an American chef. It’s like saying you’re market-driven or talking about that as a selling point for your restaurant, if you have a restaurant in a moderate sense — that is what you’re doing anyway, or you should be at least.

Advice for cooking at home? You have to think ahead a little bit and plan a little bit and don’t panic if you think something went wrong. You see that a lot … something goes wrong and you think “oh my God what a disaster.” Almost any problem can be fixed. I make 50 mistakes a day.

How is Locanda succeeding where Ago failed in the same location? I just don’t think there was a lot of love there. I think they didn’t engage the neighborhood. I’m not going to really dwell on their mistakes, but New York is so neighborhood-driven now. If you don’t embrace the neighborhood a little then you’re kind of screwed no matter where you are. We always keep a good chunk of tables for walk-ins and especially locals. And if we don’t have something for good customers we’ve developed so far, we’ll say, “Oh yeah we will give you a call at home and tell you when something opens up.” We try and embrace that.

Where are your favorite New York spots? I really like Mercadito Cantina on Avenue B. Usually, I’m going to go the ethnic route if we’re eating out, because I’m always cooking French and Italian food. I like PDT, Pegu Club. I used to spend a lot of time at d.b.a. back in the day.

Photo: Emilie Baltz

New York: Top 10 Beer Bars

image10. Jeremy’s Ale House (Lower Manhattan) – Not the greenest option, but when it comes to price, there’s no arguing with their $4 32-ounce Styrofoam buckets of Coors. 9. Zum Schneider (East Village) – It’s Oktoberfest all-year-round at this frat-tastic joint where the impressive beer selection comes in small 0.3l, regular 0.5l, or large 1.0l glasses. 8. Heidelberg (Upper East Side) – Nothing like drinking two liters of beer out of a glass boot.

7. Alligator Lounge (Williamsburg) – A penny-pinchers delight, wood-oven pizza comes gratis with any drink order. 6. Blind Tiger Ale House (West Village) – For the perfect beer to complement everything from your morning breakfast to your sausage dinner, look no further. 5. d.b.a. (East Village) – Bring your reading glasses to pore through the 200-plus beer options handwritten on dozens of chalkboards. 4. Spitzer’s Corner (Lower East Side) – With 40 craft beers on tap and a corner LES location, the always-packed rustic gastropub pleases both the beer geek and the collegiate crowds. 3. Brooklyn Brewery (Williamsburg) – Straight from the source for some of the freshest brew in town. 2. Beer Table (Park Slope) – Beer-inspired eats along with suds imported from around the world make for well-paired combos, like the yeast-raised waffles and Schneider-Weisse brunch. 1. Village Pourhouse (Greenwich Village). Their number is 212-979-BEER, is there any more to say?