On a cold winter night, the front windows at Brucie steam with the warm energy that radiates within. Diners gather around the communal table, elbow up to the bar, or cram themselves into two- and four-tops along the wall. They talk loudly, not worrying about whether their neighbors are listening (they aren't); order too much food and wine; and stay longer than they'd intended. The place takes on the rhythm and good will of a dinner party, which is just what chef-owner Zahra Tangorra wanted when she opened back in 2010. This part of Brooklyn is heavy on Italian restaurants, many of which are beloved old mainstays, but despite having no professional training, Tangorra put together a menu that's traditional enough to lure people in for comforting dishes and improvised enough to set her apart from the competition. The menu changes seasonally, but you'll often find some form of arancini on the list, and you can always find spaghetti and meatballs, the half-chicken, and big hunks of meat for two. You might also find squid-ink tagliatelle with chickpeas and raisins, or osso buco, or a pasta inspired by a turkey reuben. Hit the Italian wine list for a pairing; many of the selections are biodynamic or organic. Like any good neighborhood restaurant, Brucie is just as popular at brunch, when it trots out scrambled eggs and french toast in lieu of all those noodles. In 2010 Tangorra did Cobble Hill another solid with an unusual offering: Drop off a pan, and she'll fill it with lasagna by the next day. Take it home and bake it, and you have the basis for your very own dinner party. Then again, why have people over when you could just come here?
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