The staff is eager-to-please when you arrive — for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or drinks.
The new bakery, cafe, and restaurant Runner and Stone is filled with natural light, exposed cement walls fashioned playfully from old flour sack molds, modernist prints of flowers, and a growing number of Gowanus residents thrilled to have high quality fare — from homemade pastries in the morning to roast chicken at night — in an unassuming storefront next to a Super 8 Motel.
The food is the result of two talents teaming up, and it’s the main attraction.
Chef Chris Pizulli and head baker Peter Endriss have known each other for 20 years and went into business together selling pastries at foodie markets including Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg.
Developing their popular venture into a full-on restaurant and bakery only seemed natural.
“We had always toyed with idea of doing something together. I loved the baking part, he has always been in the savory part. It’s a good complement,” said Endriss.
And the merger of salty and sweet makes business sense, according to the restaurateur.
“The combination came about because I wanted a retail bakery,” said Endriss, whose past experiences includes stints in Italy, Germany, France, as well as Amy’s Bread and the venerable Per Se in Manhattan. “Pairing it with a restaurant was a way to make it work financially, and when Chris and I started talking, it was the perfect way to partner up.”
Both have a sure hand in the kitchen — Endriss upstairs in the baking station, where he prepares all breads in house, and Pizzulli in the basement, where he oversees the cooks.
For breakfast, the lemon poppy bread and the almond croissant sitting on the pastry counter in front are two favorites. The poppy bread is light and citrusy, the croissant flaky, buttery, and as indulgent as a cinnamon bun. The buckwheat baguette, with a light, crispy crust and soft, chewy, speckled crumb, is some of the best bread in Brooklyn.
Endriss said both he and Pizzulli pull from their life experiences when they are in the kitchen.
“You tend to make what you eat, and that’s what we do.”
Savory items, prepared by Pizzulli, a Brooklyn-native who cooked at Blue Ribbon, are also are prepared in-house — even the butter, which is cultured and whipped on-site, and the pancetta and pasta, which are made from scratch.
At lunch, the grilled cheese, a combination of cheddar grilled on rye with pickled apples and pancetta, could delight even the most jaded sandwich connoisseur. A turkey soup with farro and sage — broth made in house, of course — was comforting and richly flavorful.
On the dinner menu, the spaghetti alla chitarra is a great starter, before moving onto a roast chicken with buckwheat dumplings and mushroom broth. Desserts include a rye brownie and pear tiramisu.
The food is unmistakably good, but perhaps most telling of the restaurant, however, has been Gowanus’ immediate infatuation, says Endriss.
“People have been so supportive and awesome with us,” said Endriss, who claims his neighbors were eager to help out from the start.
“Now, you see the same faces in the bar.”
Runner and Stone [285 Third Ave. between President and Carroll streets in Gowanus, (718) 576–3360, www.runnerandstone.com].
©2013 Community News Group
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