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Former Roberta's Chef Opens Restaurant Focusing on Off-Menu Items

By Janet Upadhye | August 26, 2014 10:23am

CLINTON HILL — Former Roberta's Pizza chef Gabe McMackin is set to open his own spot in Clinton Hill, where he'll offer seasonal, farm-to-table food with a focus on hospitality — and a willingness to offer off-the-menu items.

The Finch, at 212 Greene Ave., will serve menu items including baby pork rack and belly with chickpeas, littleneck clams, sour orange and herb salad, and raw fluke with kirby cucumber, sea urchin and chilis.

The Finch's opening was first reported by Fort Greene Focus.

But it's not just about the food, according to McMackin.

"I want people to come here to have a good time, be comfortable and get served," he said. "The food can be a backdrop to the hospitality."

McMackin hopes The Finch to be the kind of place where customers can get exactly what they ask for "within reason."

The concept is reminiscent of Roberta's "off menu" items like the Bee Sting pizza — made with sopressata and fresh mozzarella atop honey and chili marinara on a salty crust — that has arguably become more popular than pies listed on the menu.

McMackin said he believes Clinton Hill, the neighborhood he has called home for many years, is the perfect place to start his hospitality revolution.

"Clinton Hill is my favorite neighborhood in Brooklyn," he said. "I love the way it feels. It’s a great place to walk around, it’s on a scale that's more human than some other neighborhoods in the borough, people are just nice to each other here."

The Finch will open in September. Check the website for an official date and a full list of menu items.

There are other culinary stirrings in the immediate area with a raw seafood bar planned for Choice Greene in September and Mekelburg's specialty food shop set to open next year.

Choice Greene, 214 Greene Ave.

Neighborhood favorite Choice Greene market and coffee shop is getting a raw seafood bar serving oysters, lobster, clams, shrimp with fancy cocktails and craft beer on tap.

They will also serve artisanal cheese and charcuterie options, sandwiches and pastries in the morning, said owner Thierry Cabigeos.

The restaurant will seat 49, according to Fort Greene Focus, and feature backyard dining and a indoor working fireplace.

They are set to open in September.

Mekelburg's, 293 Grand Ave.

The owner of craft beer and specialty food shop, Mekelburg's, Alicia Mekelburg plans to open her doors in April of next year, Fort Greene Focus reported.

The space, formerly used as storage, is on the ground floor of a residential building on Grand Avenue near the corner of Greene Avenue and is currently being converted into commercial space.

Mekelburg plans to serve a wide variety of craft beers, house-smoked meat, fresh sandwiches and specialty foods that she says can be hard to find in the neighborhood.

"There is no place nearby to get Blue Bottle coffee, nice olive oils and free range chicken," she said.

The space will also have a 28-foot bar and backyard seating where patrons can drink growlers of beer and work on their laptops.

"We are also looking to cater to Pratt students," said Mekelburg.