My Bluefish catch ready to be filleted with ingredients nearby
One of my favorite things to do growing up in Brooklyn was to go fishing in Jamaica Bay. My parents, having grown up in a fishing village, saw it as a way to keep me busy and a way to bring home some food to last us for a week or two. My family did not believe in the “catch and release” concept, unless you count the numerous undersize Striped Bass we let go in the 80s. Yes, I ate the fish we caught and I still have all 10 toes and have grown used to my webbed feet.
The fish here was a lot different than Istra so my family had to adapt. There were no Sardines, Branzino, Cuttlefish or Scorpion fish. Instead we had Porgy, Blackfish, Flounder and Bluefish. Out of all of these fish Bluefish was the one my family gravitated towards. Its flesh reminded them of the oily sardines and mackerel they grew up on and reacted the same way to cooking. On top of that it was one hell of a fish to catch especially when in the 10-18 lb range. Now we only caught one every other time we went out from Canarsie Pier. But once we bought a 17 foot Bayliner we were trolling up and down Jamaica Bay and bagging them like no tomorrow and giving them out to our family every weekend.
It was always a rite of passage to catch the first one of each season, usually around mid May. In the past three years I have re-ignited that rite and caught one each year surf fishing. This year I figured I would beat the chase and get on a boat. So on May 1st, the one year anniversary of my quitting smoking after 23 years, I decided the celebrate by heading out of Sheepshead Bay. I was reliving the tradition my dad taught me feeling the sea wind in my hair as we headed out to Breezy Point. Ahead of us a swarm of seagulls right over a slew of Bunker with Bluefish underneath for sure. And just like when he first took me out there when I was 8 years old I caught my first Bluefish of the season. A nice 13 lb one hitting the same jig I used 30 years ago, thanks Dad for the fish.
A few months ago Erin and I went to check out a new place in our hood. It was a week after the place had first opened on a Friday night after 8pm. We knew we were going to be screwed to get a table so we just accepted the fact that we would be drinking alot before dinner. We went in, they tell us it would be about an hour and we scurried to the bar. While at the bar we met a guy named Justin talking about his new place he was opening in the hood. We proceeded to have drinks and we had a great time as he went into passionate detail about his new place, Speedy Romeo. He sounded so excited about it that we couldn’t wait til it opened. It almost sounded too good to be true.
Weeks later we see an episode of Chopped and there is Justin Bazdarich in the thick of competition. Everything he was making looked really good and I figured this will bode well for his new place he told us about opening. He almost won that episode with some very to the point flavors. He also spoke some more about Speedy Romeo, shit I almost forgot the name by then, and it got us interested again. I did a little research and started to follow all the buzz about this place. I told Erin as soon as they open we were in there. One week after opening we decided to take my mom and dad there to check it out… and were we ever so happy we did.
As you get to the corner of Greene and Classon in Clinton Hill you will notice this old facade of an auto parts store with a “liquors” sign on the corner. Yup, you are at the right place. As you walk in there is a very nice and warm feeling from the decor. Open kitchen and bar to the right and seating on the left. It’s a perfect and cozy layout. It was a Friday night and it was really busy but the staff took care of us right off the bat very well. They had a table for us within 15 minutes. I do suggest though that if you are coming on a Friday or Saturday night get there by 7:30.
The Speedy Romeo pie... a must have
My mom, dad, Erin and myself sat down and made a selection of drinks from their varied beer and wine list – The list is nice and a well rounded compliment to the menu. We then decided to go with some appetizers, a pizza and our main entree. The first pizza we ordered was their house special Saint Louie. This is a great example of what this place is all about. Midwest meets Italy with a slap of new Brooklyn thrown in for good measure. This brick oven pie had Provel (a type of mixed cheese from the Mid West), Italian Sausage, Pepperoni and the best pickled chilies (btw they give you these on the table to put on everything… my dad and I couldn’t stop eating them). The creamy cheese with the sausage and amazing spicy chilies gave it this perfect blend of tart, spicy and creamy that I wish every one of my meals started off with.