The current craze for raw (and raw-inspired) seafood takes an innovative leap forward at Bergen Hill, a new addition to the exploding culinary scene in Brooklyn, New York’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood. Launched by restaurateur Ravi DeRossi (Death & Co., Cienfuegos, Mayahuel), rock guitarist Daniel Kessler of Interpol, and Top Chef alum Andrew D’Ambrosi, the diminutive restaurant serves what D’Ambrosi calls creative seafood with pop.
“I think about how Asian food hits every note—sweet, salty, sour, spicy—then apply that same idea to texture,” says D’Ambrosi. “Something like scallops with cauliflower purée, texturally it’s one note—there’s no pop. Food needs pop.” He achieves this by using the same ingredient in multiple forms—for example, the dual squash textures in the scallop dish, or in his barley risotto with sea urchin, which features roasted celery root, celery root purée, pickled celery and celery bitters, with more pops of raw apple and fried barley.
The short, yet carefully curated wine list was designed with help from increasingly popular consultant Robert Bohr (Cru, Charlie Bird), a college friend of partner Kessler.
“Andrew’s food is so balanced, it wasn’t hard to find wines that work with each dish—the main challenge is finding wines that work with every dish,” says Kessler, noting that because the menu features a parade of small plates, rather than appetizers and entreés, it demands a slightly different approach. To straddle the food’s alternately bracing and rich elements, the list is heavy on fresh, crisp wines, with hints of salinity from Mediterranean-seaside regions like Corsica, Liguria, Sicily, Provence and Rías Baixas.
Bay Scallops with Squash Two Ways
Recipe adapted from Andrew d’Ambrosi, chef of Bergen Hill, Brooklyn, New York
2 winter squashes (such as acorn or butternut)
4 cups white vinegar, divided
1½ cup sugar
1 quince, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 pound sweet Italian
red peppers (cherry peppers or poblano chilies may be substituted)
White soy sauce
1 pound bay scallops (or substitute small sea scallops), rinsed and patted dry
¼ cup apple, sliced paper-thin
¼ cup finely minced walnuts
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Cut one squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds, wrap each piece in foil and roast in the oven until soft, about 1 hour. Scoop out the flesh and purée in a blender or food processor, adding salt and sugar to taste.
Dice the second winter squash into ¼-inch pieces. Toss with just enough olive oil and salt to coat lightly. Roast in a single layer on a baking sheet in the oven until crisp-tender, about 15 minutes.
While the squash roasts, make the pickled quince and agri dolce pepper vinaigrette. In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of white vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, and ½ cup of water and bring to simmer over low heat. Add the quince and simmer slowly until cooked through but still intact.
Destem the peppers, halve lengthwise, and remove seeds and veins. In a medium sauce pan, combine the remaining white vinegar and sugar with ½ cup of water and bring to a boil. Add the peppers, cover, turn off heat, and let cool. Once cool, mince the peppers.
To make the vinaigrette, combine 3 parts pickling liquid to one part white soy sauce, adding minced peppers to taste.
Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Over high heat, working in two batches if necessary, add 2 tablespoons of oil to a hot sauté pan and sear scallops in a single layer until crusty on the outside and barely cooked through, about 2 minutes each side. Smear 2 tablespoons of the squash purée on each of four plates. Dividing ingredients equally, place the scallops atop the purée and scatter with the roasted squash, quince, and apple. Season lightly with salt, sprinkle the vinaigrette over each plate and top with walnuts. Serves 4.
Wine Recommendation: At Bergen Hill, this dish is served with Yves Leccia’s 2010 (IGP) L’Ile de Beauté Rouge, a Corsican Grenache that perfectly complements the meatiness of the scallops.
Amaebi Shrimp with Leche de Tigre Sauce
Recipe adapted from Andrew d’Ambrosi, chef of Bergen Hill, Brooklyn, New York (photo above)
At Bergen Hill, the shrimp is packed into cylinders, partly frozen, then shaved like carpaccio. At home, simply serve the deveined shrimp as is, or separate into 4 portions and pound between plastic sheets into a ⅛-inch thin round.
1 pound amaebi, or any sushi-grade small shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup red onion, sliced paper-thin
¼ cup bell pepper (green, red, yellow, or a mix)
¼ cup jalapeño, seeded, deveined, and sliced thin
¼ cup sweet potato purée
1 cup shrimp heads and tails
1 tablespoon olive oil
⅓ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
⅓ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
salt and pepper, to taste
Divide the shrimp among four shallow bowls. Arrange vegetables attractively on top, and dollop with random dots of sweet potato purée.
Make leche de tigre, or a rich shrimp stock. In a saucepan, sauté the shrimp heads and tails in the olive oil until browned, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend the entire contents of the pan in a blender, then strain though a chinois, or a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Combine ⅓ of the shrimp stock with the fresh-squeezed lime and orange juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Carefully pour ¼ cup of the leche de tigre around the perimeter of each bowl. Serves 4.
Wine Recommendation: The restaurant recommends 2011 Il Monticello’s 2011 Vermentino from Colli Di Luni’s. Its citrus, brine, mineral and spice notes stand up to the richness of dish.