NEW YORK — Brooklyn’s bustling Fifth Avenue is fast becoming a haven for foodies, and its newest entrant offers a fresh take on traditional Mediterranean dishes. Tempo, which just opened in the space formerly occupied by local Italian favorite Cucina, combines the former inhabitant’s Old-World charm with an updated design and new fare.
“We brought Cucina into the new millennium and gave the old girl a new frock,” says Robert Amato, one of Tempo’s three managing partners.
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The decor now has a soft and sophisticated feel with a muted, earthy color palette and pleated silk drapes, as well as rustic touches such as wood tables, textured place mats and even a trellis. At the entrance of the spacious restaurant is a 20-foot cork and tile wine bar with more than 150 choices of wine, primarily from the Mediterranean region.
“Our idea here is Mediterranean-inspired American fare,” asserts Amato, who has had a long career in the New York restaurant scene and was formerly general manager at both Babbo and Ilo. Chef and partner Michael Fiore, who worked at Cucina and other top restaurants, serves up Italian favorites such as saffron gnocchetti and ricotta raviolo, but there are also dishes like duck pastilla roll, shaved fennel and apple salad, and grilled pork chops with apricot chutney. Plans call for the introduction of traditional Sunday dinners, where chicken will be carved by servers right at the table. “The idea is to keep it simple and use local ingredients,” Fiore notes.
Fifth Avenue, located at the edge of Park Slope, has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years — Blue Ribbon is a block away and hip stores are sprouting up along the avenue — and the third managing partner, Michael Elliot, says he hopes Tempo will draw locals but also become a destination for foodies from the outer boroughs.
Next door to the double-storefront restaurant space, construction is already under way for Tempo Presto, an offshoot scheduled to open next year. Says Amato, “This is a shop where people can get grilled panini and a little Tempo to go.”
— Melanie Kletter