The Brooklyn vs. Manhattan Debate Rages (Sputters?) On

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Photo: The Brooklyneer (developed by Ms. Molly Watman)

Not about to leave good enough alone, Steve Cuozzo once again rails against the Brooklyn-dining hype, but this time the Post runs a counterpoint by his Brooklynite colleague Carla Spartos. You can guess how this is going to go — Cuozzo begins his rant with, “Brooklyn’s oversold, overblogged dining scene needs to be over. Not the restaurants, which are mostly harmless — but the media zeitgeist which confers upon every new bistro an aura of meaningfulness.” He admits there’s good to be found in Brooklyn and it’s not all “‘green’-oriented eateries” that “wear their mediocrity on their artisanal sleeves,” but “for every truly fine Brooklyn meal, there’s the ice-cold ‘Nicoise’ salad at the General Greene with its precious little grocery in the back, or the parched-dry brisket at Fatty 'Cue.” The real lure of Brooklyn, he says, are the far-flung ethnic eateries, but trekking out to them is “too much work for those who get their free-range chicken fix on Smith Street and Bedford Avenue” (um, where exactly can you find free-range chicken on Bedford Avenue?).

On the other hand, Carla Spartos sides with her old Voice colleague Robert Sietsema and compares Brooklyn’s DIY culture (“pizzerias with greenhouses and Internet radio stations”) to the beatniks of old.

Yes, Manhattan, you’re losing your edge.

Your celebrity chefs are more interested in making deals than making dinner.

And your restaurants are teeming with Euro-rich tourists and deep-pocketed financiers overpaying for pedestrian dishes like a half-chicken ($37.95 at Harry Cipriani) or a “peasant” salad ($21 at Nello).

Wow, are these arguments specious. Can you really point to Nello and Harry Cipriani as typical Manhattan restaurants? No more than you can call the River Café a typical Brooklyn restaurant. For every bloated celebrity-chef joint in Manhattan, there’s a quietly excellent spot like Hung Ry. And for every annoying “green” eatery in Brooklyn, there’s a Manhattan concept that takes the whole “green” thing one step further by throwing in some “viral,” “social,” “tech” gimmicks.

So Cuozzo had a bad meal at the General Greene in Brooklyn, and Spartos had a bad meal at Café Select in Manhattan? Can we finally call it even?