As opening chef at Williamsburg’s Diner, Caroline Fidanza watched the bootstrap operation grow from a small, quirkily restored Kullman diner into a five-unit restaurant group, with a boutique butcher and grocery, a staunch commitment to local and sustainable agriculture, and an in-house literary gastromag to which she contributed both text and recipes. Ten years later, Fidanza’s starting small again — this time in a nearby storefront she and her partners, Diner alums Elizabeth Schula and Rebecca Collerton, have converted from a retail bakery into a minimalist eight-stool cafe with the help of local designer Joseph Foglia, whose distinctive work you might know from Dressler. They’ve named the space Saltie, which refers not only to an oceangoing ship, but also to the three chefs’ predilection for tempering sweet flavors with salty ones, and, says Fidanza, “for the personalities involved.” But Foglia’s design doesn’t deploy marine motifs as much as evoke the sea, with blue accents in a bright, modern, mostly white space, furnished with seats and counters crafted from white-powder-coated metal and maple.
When it opens next Friday, Saltie will begin the day with goat-cheese-and-jam breakfast tarts and loaf cakes in flavors like ginger or olive oil, then segue into sandwiches with nautical names “because it amuses us,” says Fidanza. The Captain’s Daughter, for instance, combines sardine, pickled egg, and salsa verde, and the Longshoreman is, contrary to whatever you might be picturing, cherry-and-pistachio-studded Israeli meatballs with herbs and yogurt. The chefs plan to bake everything in-house, from the focaccia, naan, and Parker House sandwich rolls to the lavender shortbread cookies and plum scones they’ll be previewing at this Sunday’s New Amsterdam Market. And their sourcing will be as meticulous as Fidanza’s was at Diner, with dairy coming from an organic Amish farmers’ cooperative in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and produce from Guy Jones at Blooming Hill Farm. Saltie is eschewing cupcakes but embracing ice cream in flavors like Eton Mess (blueberry ripple with meringue) and a salty-caramel ice-cream sandwich. One thing the place won’t have is a liquor license, which means that any real longshoremen (or neighborhood hipsters) will have to spin their yarns over watermelon agua frescas, peach lassis, or a house-blended herbal iced tea.
The Captains Daughter
Sardine, pickled egg, salsa verde
Mortadella, Pecorino, Green olive
Ham, Gruyere, Pickle butter
Wheatberries, Chickpeas, Miso, Pickled vegetables
Israeli Meatballs, herbs, Yogurt
Tomato, cucumber, hard boiled egg, feta, olives, capers, greens
Soft scrambled egg and ricotta
Eton Mess Ice cream- blueberry ripple with meringue
Salty caramel ice cream sandwich
Olive oil cake, ginger cake, chocolate fig cake, ricotta cake, currant
scones, fruit scones, goat cheese and jam breakfast tarts
Saltie opens September 18 at 378 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Havemeyer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-387-4777.