The Brooklyn restaurants Walter Foods and Walter’s are the sort of places you could go to all the time — and which many people do, judging by the crowds they continue to draw. Located in Williamsburg and Fort Greene, respectively, they’re bistro-ish with familiar food like lollipop chicken wings and plenty of cocktails for when you just need a drink. Owners Danny Minch and Dylan Dodd found a formula that works, but they’ve mostly been happy to focus on these places.
Their third restaurant, Karasu, really just occupies the back of Walter’s, and after opening it, they say they were looking to hit the breaks. So when they got approached about a corner space in East Williamsburg, they demurred. “We’d say, we’re not interested, we want to take a break, we like being dads, we’re trying to maintain the restaurants we have,” Minch explains. But then they saw the space, and now the duo have found themselves gearing up to open the doors to an all-day restaurant, Apollonia, tomorrow.
The restaurant takes Minch and Dodd in new directions, both in terms of neighborhood (East Williamsburg) and food (more on that soon). Located at the forner of Meserole Street and Manhattan Avenue, it’s a 1,500-square-foot space with clean white walls, a copper bar, vintage rugs, and mostly blonde-wood tables. “We really made a conscious decision not to have one bad table,” Minch says, adding, “the one common denominator with Walter’s is we’re going to be nice to everyone who walks through the door.”
The dining room has a spacious, homey feel to it. There’s a sun-splashed nook with white banquets, and the entrance looks a study you might design if you had a house on the coast of Greece. The restaurant will operate as a café during the day (through 5 p.m.) with breakfast and lunch menu, Counter Culture coffee, and pastries from Nick + Sons Bakery. There will also be an adjacent arts space next door at 150 Manhattan Avenue.
As for the food, they’ve brought on a new chef in Jordan Heissenberger, who’s worked at places like Rucola, Faun, Vinegar Hill House, and Buvette. They were connected through the chef Brian Leth (formerly of Faun and Vinegar Hill House), who matched their desire for something very approachable with bright flavors. The cooking is what you could call pan-Mediterranean, with Sicilian, Greek, and Turkish influences.
“We don’t necessarily try to emulate something. We just build things that feel really good. It has a real classic Mediterranean vibe to it, which is in the food. It kind of has a grandma kitschiness to it. A lot of our china is more colorful,” Dodd says. “The dishes are things that if you have a Greek or Italian or Turkish grandmother, she would make on a summer night at her house on the coast. I don’t have any of those, but I wish I did.”
On the dinner menu, you’ll find dishes like white anchovies with harissa and marjoram; lamb ribs with coriander, carrot, cilantro, and yogurt; raw scallop with pistachio oil, preserved lemon, and bronze fennel; and a few entrees like cast-iron Greek chicken. There are lemon potatoes, yes, and only a couple fried items in fava-bean croquettes with pine-nut tahini, and fried cauliflower with Vadouvan aioli. The trio of desserts are straightforward, and include a pistachio semi-freddo with amarena cherry.
Whereas the Walters and Karasu are all about cocktails, Apollonia will put more of a focus on wine. (There will only be beer and wine to start, in fact.) Everything will be offered by the glass, carafe, and bottle, so you can split the night up rather then only drink one thing. But this will be one trendy Brooklyn restaurant that isn’t going all-in on natural wine.
“You can come here and get one really funky natural wine and one more approachable wine for probably less than it would cost to get a bottle somewhere else,” Minch says. “We’re big fans of natural wine, but we’re big fans of all wine. There will be definitely be natural wine, but also some unnatural wine.”
Apollonia, 128 Meserole St., at Manhattan Ave.; 347-689-3600