Kevin Sandri is back with a deep-fried vengeance. After a two-year hiatus from his beloved Garden State food cart, Sandri is spearheading the kitchen at the newly renovated Alberta Street Pub. This is about as good as pub food gets, with lowbrow bites fueled by farm-fresh seasonality and East Coast sandwich-craft.
Alberta Street’s new owners, Eli and Django Amerson, are working hard to squelch the previous tenant’s reputation for poor food and service. “A.S.P. Re-Established 2013” is stamped across the top of each menu. Everything has been rebuilt: dark, paneled booths in front, a beautifully engineered music venue for neighborhood concerts around the corner, and a wood-covered 100-seat outdoor patio that wraps around the entire building. It’s still a pub to be sure, but summertime on Alberta has never looked so good.
The food has changed, too—dramatically. Sandri is bringing his brand of farm-fresh pub grub and sandwich finesse. The cult-forming sammies from Garden State are back: a fried chickpea number with carrot-radish slaw and lemon aioli, an unimpeachable meatball hero, and a burger so good it warranted its own “Burgatroyd” food cart (now under new ownership.)
But new creations built around an extensive tap list could become the stuff of legend. A pile of lamb dirty fries littered with hunks of garlic and wine-braised lamb neck and shoulder, rosemary, feta, pepperoncini and bright plucks of preserved lemon are inhaled in a Mediterranean feeding frenzy. The fish and chips compete for best in the city, deep-fried with gravity-defying lightness in an Occidental Hefeweizen batter that steams the whole fillets of Alaskan cod to their moist apex.
Given Sandri’s talent, I can’t wait to see how this week’s new brunch turns out. Early blueprints call for a blowtorched “crème brulee” French toast with peanut butter banana crème, green eggs and lamb with mint pistou and merguez sausage, and a chile relleno with house made chorizo and home fries. Add to that the prospect of summer dog days rocking out to local bands and drinking on the sun-soaked patio, and Alberta may have found its new sweet spot.
Alberta Street Pub
1036 NE Alberta St.