Fortunato Brothers Coffee: NYC: Brooklyn: Williamsburg

After coffee, a pork meatball slider, 5 donut holes, a chorizo taco and corn elote, I headed from the Hester Street Fair in the LES down to Williamsburg where I would be attending a potluck vegan birthday.  When I got off the L, I really needed to pee and also felt like I needed more coffee, as I'm used to not attempting the day without a minimum of two shots of espresso, and thus far I'd only had one little iced coffee that day.  The highest rated coffee shop around, I found from phone app searches, was Fortunato Brothers Coffee, so I headed down.

Upon entering, I realized that this place is like Mike's and Modern Pastry in Boston's North End - cases of Italian pastries are on display, espresso available.

chocolate pistachio cannoli and others
I had already decided that, despite being quite full and on the way to more food soon, I needed to get not only a double espresso but also a pastry to accompany it, as I needed to compare Fortunato's Italian pastries to Mike's and Modern (reviews of those are forthcoming).  There was a part of me that was tempted to get this really good looking cannoli so as to do a lateral cannoli taste comparison.  Then i realized I just don't seem to really like cannoli all that much and should really get one of the many treats that looked great to me.

I figured out my choice and got the attention of a young woman behind the counter.  I ordered a double espresso and pointed to the thing I wanted.  When I asked what is was called, the young woman mumbled, "Mocha."

"Yes, but what's the pastry called?"


Okay, not the friendliest, most engaging interaction ever, but that's fine.  I asked for the stuff "to stay," and was invited to go ahead and sit wherever I wanted instead of paying right then.

There was a pretty big selection of seating from which to choose, and I sat down in a room bathed in sunlight from floor to ceiling windows in which sat, at the time, only one middle aged man.

He explained the restroom was the unmarked door down the narrow hallway behind the espresso counter.

With a little more room in my stomach now, I was excited to try the espresso at an Italian place like this.  As I emerged from the restroom, the young woman from whom I'd ordered was walking around with my stuff looking for me, so I took it off her hands and went back to my seat.

double espresso
I'm used to shots of espresso being 1.5 ounces; a double, therefore consisting of 3 ounces.  Here, the double espresso couldn't have been more than 2 ounces, maybe less.  It was clearly the same amount of coffee, just less water, resulting in a thick, extra bitter experience.  I found the taste okay, but I prefer a tiny bit more water.  At the bottom it was particularly murky and groundsy.

The Mocha Mousse

The "mocha mousse" tasted like cardboard and sugar.  I realize it might've tasted better if I hadn't been as full as I was, but I doubt it could ever be that enjoyable.  If it had tasted good, I would've eaten the whole thing despite any discomfort.  I actually forced myself to eat more of it than I wanted, just to see if I was missing something, trying to see if some kind of espresso/mousse pairing in my mouth could make me understand why anyone would like this crap.  The answer was no.

If you know me at all, you know how rare it is for there to be any food left on my plate.

A bunch of upper middle aged Italians came into the room on which I was sitting and discussed carpentry and such, but in their Italian with interspersed sprinklings of English, I could make belief easily enough that I was siting in on an adorable little mafia meeting.

I was trying to read my book, but I couldn't concentrate, not only as I felt out of place in the mafia meeting, but also because I hate it when I don't understand the script of a place.  No one ever came to check on me to see if I needed more water (which I did) or anything else.  Would it be rude to go up and pay?  If I'd had any way of knowing how much my stuff cost, I might've just left money on the table and left.

Eventually I was done enough with being in there that I just got up and walked to the counter and asked if I could pay.  At least it was only $4.75 total.  There was no tip jar, so I didn't tip at all.  What was I going to do?  Walk back to the table I'd used to which no waitress had actually ever come to leave a couple of quarters for a surly cashier(/waitress?) who clearly couldn't give two shits and a handclap about me and my pastry inquiries?  No.

I can only assume the crowd ratings of 4 stars on GMaps an 88% on Urbanspoon result from people's desire to seem cultured, but I don't see how liking shitty sugary bullshit makes one cultured. It makes you a naive touristy asshole. Leave the assholery to me.

Then again, supposedly the gelato is really good, so if you feel the need to have some "authentic Italian neighborhood joint" experience, I'd stick to that.

Fortunato Brothers on Urbanspoon

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