The Absolute Best Restaurant in Park Slope

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Hugo & Sons: A wonderful little French-Italian bistro. Photo: Miachel Breton

Park Slope is not the most exciting neighborhood in the city when it comes to eating out, but the neighborhood’s dining scene seems to have hit its stride with restaurants like Talde and Sushi Katsuei leading the way.

The Absolute Best

1. Hugo & Sons
367 Seventh Ave., at 11th St.; 718-499-0020

There is no Hugo, and there are no sons at this mildly French and Italian bistro on Seventh Avenue. But co-owners Rebecca Tory and her husband, chef Andrea Taormina, send out classics with just the right amount of détournement to keep things interesting. Asparagus interloping a pan-fried gnocchi; a “Chattanooga” pizza with brisket and gremolata. Taormina does right by the classics, too: lemony rock-shrimp linguini, with a touch of heat; handmade strozzapreti Genovese rich with brisket under a quenelle of ricotta. Though the most interesting part about the space is that it was, for years, the studio of unjustly obscure artist Leo J. Banks, the corner front is light and airy during the day and cozy at night.

2. Al Seabu
383 Fifth Ave., at 6th St.,; 718-788-3508

With its slightly elevated dorm-room décor, Seabu certainly doesn’t glister, but the seafood-heavy Malay dishes that come out of the kitchen more than make up for it. Crab whisperers, the chefs wok-fry the crustacean with black pepper, or deep-fry it and coat it in cereal to make it sweet and crunchy, or cook it with prawn sauce with garlic and chiles for a Malay preparation called Golden Fragrant. The other champion here is the sticky rice, wrapped in a banana leaf and flavored with coconut, a taste of Petaling Street on Fifth Avenue.

3. al di
248 Fifth Ave., at Carroll St.; 718-783-4565

Before there was Hugo & Sons, before there was, actually, much of anything on Fifth Avenue, there was Emiliano Coppa and Chef Anna Klinger’s corner Veronese trattoria, al di là. Opened in 1998, it was, at the time, a weird delicious canary for gentrification to come. Now it’s a survivor. The menu is seasonal, regional, and ambitious. Old favorites like a bittersweet malfatti, made with Swiss chard and bathed in a brown-butter-and-sage sauce, and casunzei, a sort of see-through raviolo from Verona here made with beets and poppy seeds, rotate with daily specials like morel-and-ramp risotto and, for now is the season, fried soft-shell crabs.

4. Sushi Katsuei
210 Seventh Ave., nr. 3rd St.; 212-788-5338

Sushi Katsuei towers head and shoulders above any other Japanese restaurant in the zip code. The trio of chefs responsible for the nine-course, $45 omakase experience stand like austere Pep Boys behind the counter in the spartan space. But as the tasting menu unfurls, their soft sides show. Tender is the agedashi tofu in its ethereal broth; how mindfully placed the orange jag of sea urchin or the slice of fatty tuna, sprinkled with yuzu, of the nigiri.

5. Talde
369 Seventh Ave., nr. 11th St.; 347-916-0031

Dale Talde (late of season four of Top Chef) is a talented chef whose vision can be consumed throughout Park Slope. He has two bars — a faux English gastropub named Thistle Hill Tavern and a dive called Pork Slope — but his pièce de résistance is still Talde, his first and eponymous restaurant. Talde is squarely within his Asian-American roots here with full-flavored favorites like kung pao chicken wings, milder than Mission Chinese’s but with just the right kick, and crispy oyster-and-bacon pad Thai, which are just as pleasing today as they were when he opened in 2012.

The Absolute Best Restaurant in Park Slope