In a city that fetishizes hidden and authentic food, Newtown is a true gem. This modest, all-vegetarian Mediterranean restaurant elevates hummus from a simple side dish to a specialty that’s worth trekking to East Williamsburg to try.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times (and the neighborhood) that I was first taken here by a friend while helping to convert the top floor of a warehouse into a live-and-work art studio. It’s hard not to sense the fixed-gear encroachment of greater Williamsburg cycling toward you as you take your first sip of the house-made spiced tea.
But it’s not here yet. So pull up a chair outside at the cable spool-cum-table, and enjoy a cooling bowl of cucumber- and parsley-laced gazpacho with two slices of nearly perfect olive and rosemary focaccia. The bread alone was worth the trip, with its crisp exterior and airy but firm center.
Or try Newtown’s omelet and cheese sandwich, served between two pieces of the same focaccia. I would wager that anything between two slices of this bread is worth having, but the herb-filled omelet topped with arugula was excellent in its own right—a fresh and filling plate for an overcast day.
The hummus is the real star here, so be sure to try one of the hummus plates. We ordered the sabich hummus plate, which came with eggplant, a quartered soft-boiled egg and extremely fresh pita bread. We also added an order of the baked falafel, which was moist and crumbly in a way that highlights its homemade origins—a world away from the bland, dry, deep-fried scoops of mashed chickpea found around New York.
The hummus itself had a smooth texture and a mild, well-balanced flavor with hints of pepper, lemon and tahini. Still, we couldn’t resist experimenting with the flavored olive oils that are provided at each table for further flavor doctoring, including one with a hot chili paste and another that blended smoky turmeric and mustard.
Like everything else we tried at Newtown, this plate was almost too good to be entirely vegetarian.
Newtown, 55 Waterbury St., East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 347-984-6202, newtownbrooklyn.com