My first visit to Red Hook, an eclectic community in South Brooklyn, was to shop for bargains at the massive Ikea store located on the neighborhood’s historic waterfront. But thanks to my daughter, we now skip the furniture for food.
In addition to the maritime park, cobblestone streets, and renovated factories from the 1800s, Red Hook is home to Baked, a nationally recognized bakery favored by foodies like Martha Stewart and Oprah. Founded in 2005 by Matt Lewis and Renalto Poliafito, the charming eatery on Van Brunt Street offers a delectable selection of pastries and baked goods, including homemade marshmallows, half-a-dozen varieties of brownies, and specialty treats like Peanut Butter Crispy Bar. We tried the peppermint brownie and pistachio cake. Both were divine.
Down the street from Baked is Fairway, an oversized grocery housed in a Civil War-era warehouse. The logo for Fairway is “Like No Other Market,” and that pretty much sums up the place. I’ve never seen a more extensive selection of cheese, produce, health food, and packaged groceries under one roof.
If you aren’t interested in groceries, visit Fairway anyway. There’s a fabulous deli in the rear of the store (try the build-your-own sandwich) with an outdoor patio where you can eat lunch and enjoy breezes off the East River and an inspiring view of the Statue of Liberty. In fact, Red Hook is the only part of New York City where you can see a full front view of the lovely lady. (Remember: She’s facing France!)
Red Hook is a little isolated, especially for visitors, but it’s easy to navigate, thanks to the New York Water Taxi. The taxi runs regularly from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan to the Ikea store. A one-way trip is $5 or free if you shop at Ikea. (Be sure to save your receipt!)
A second location of Baked opened this year in Charleston, S.C., a little closer to Memphis. Goodies by Baked also are sold online, and for baking enthusiasts, there’s a new cookbook from Lewis and Poliafito due out in October called Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented.