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Neighborhood Guide: Carroll Gardens

Carroll Gardens is a historic neighborhood that still retains a classic New York neighborhood feeling. Originally an Italian-American enclave, Carroll Gardens has recently become more diverse and has attracted many families. There are picturesque tree-lined streets, rows of brownstones, a booming dining scene, independent shops, and more that make this a wonderful neighborhood to explore.

Court and Smith streets are the parallel main streets and the central hub of the neighborhood, but there are many off the beaten path places on side streets and outskirts of Carroll Gardens.

Things to Do for Families. Carroll Gardens has a lot to offer families and kids including three parks located throughout the neighborhood. Carroll Park is the largest and is an oasis of green space where families and kids can relax and play. There are basketball courts, a baseball diamond, a playground, a spray shower during the summer and plenty of green space. St. Mary’s Playground on Smith Street has a playground for the little kids and a skate park for adventurous skaters. DiMattina Playground on Hicks Street also has a playground ideal for younger kids and a dog run that’s a gathering place for the neighborhood dog owners.

For indoor activities with kids, The Brooklyn Strategist (333 Court Street), is a great place to visit. It’s a community store & cafe with a huge library of over 500 board games. Many are for sale but families come to play board games and socialize in the communal area filled with tables for walk-in play. They offer after-school programs, camps and weekend classes.

Italian Restaurants. Carroll Gardens is known for its Italian-American heritage, so you can expect quality Italian restaurants. Here are some of our favorites.

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  • Lucali (575 Henry Street) – New Yorkers love their pizza and some consider Lucali to be the best pizza in NYC not just Brooklyn.  The menu is simple and only includes pizza and calzones. Be prepared for a long wait since they don’t take reservations and only accept cash.. Customers have to show up before 5pm, put their name on the list and they’ll call when the table is ready. You’ll be rewarded with amazing pizza.
  • Baby Lucs (387 Court Street) – A casual pizza-by-the-slice shop from the owners of Lucali recently opened in the neighborhood on Court Street.
  • Cremini’s (521 Court Street) – This restaurant is dedicated to the traditional cuisine of Le Marche Region, in the heart of Italy. Their signature dish is Olives all’Ascolana, deep-fried olives stuffed with a meat filling. They offer six varieties of the fried stuffed olives along with many other signature dishes and classics.
  • Fragole (394 Court Street) – A casual Italian restaurant serving delicious food at reasonable prices. Fragole is a neighborhood staple, located on Court St that offers solid pasta dishes and other homemade Italian classics in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. 

International. The neighborhood has grown to become more diverse so it’s no surprise that there are more global dining options in Carroll Gardens. Our favorites are:

  • Ugly Baby (407 Smith Street) – Loyal customers consider this restaurant to offer the most authentic Thai food in Brooklyn. Fresh ingredients with the signature Thai flavors of sweet, sour, and salty. Be warned that the spice levels are high.
  • Folksbier Brauerei (101 Luquer Street) -Carroll Gardens has its own German style microbrewery offering a variety of fresh selections in their tasting room. Neighborhood beer lovers stop by to relax and sample rotating tap lines that feature freshly brewed beer.
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  • FOB (271 Smith Street) – Filipino cuisine is becoming increasingly popular and FOB is serving some of the best Filipino food in NYC in a casual, homey setting. They offer a variety of Filipino style barbecue — pork, chicken and fish, plus classics like chicken adobo. Don’t forget the Ube shake for the complete experience.
  • Santo Brúklin (548 Court Street) –  Carroll Gardens even offers a taste of Brazil. Santo Brúklin is a lively restaurant located at the southern tip known for their signature Brazilian dishes of moqueca, a savory tomato-based fish stew, and pão de queijo, cheese bread. They’re also popular for their great brunch.

Desserts and Sweets.  With an abundance of families, schools and kids there are many delicious dessert and sweet options for special occasions or the daily treat.

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  • Chip City (361 Smith Street) –  Located on Smith street, this cookie shop offers an amazing selection of ooey-gooey cookies that change daily. Flavors include classics such as Chocolate Chip, S’mores, and Cookies and Cream. Seasonal specialty flavors include Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Cookie and Cinnamon Roll. 
  • Dolce Brooklyn Artisanal Gelato (204 Sackett Street) – This shop offers a changing selection of artisanal gelato & sorbetto in creative flavors.  Everything is made in their kitchen in neighboring Red Hook so everything is fresh.  They also offer espresso from Italy so try their affogato.
  • Court Pastry Shop (298 Court Street) – A classic Italian pastry shop that’s been in the neighborhood for 20 years serving Italian pastries such as cannoli, a variety of Italian cookies, lobster tails and more.
  • Chocolate Room (269 Court Street) – This is the place for chocolate lovers.  This is a dessert cafe offering a variety of chocolate sweets, pastries and cakes.  The kids can enjoy the desserts while the adults can enjoy coffee, wine or beer.
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Malai Ice Cream Shop (268 Smith Street) – This ice cream shop doesn’t offer traditional ice cream.  They offer South Asian inspired flavors that include spices such as cardamom, turmeric and chai. They use fresh milk from New York and no eggs in their ice cream for a creamier texture.

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