John Carucci was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. He moved to New York in 2011 to pursue a graduate degree at NYU. Since graduating from NYU, he’s been working for a market research firm where he helps organize focus groups and other types of consumer testing. While he works in Manhattan, he calls South Slope/Green-Wood Heights (depending on which realtor you ask) for over five years, and he says he’s lucky to have both family and a tight group of friends in the neighborhood.
This weekend (June 9), Brooklyn celebrates Pride around the neighborhood.
John gives us some tips on where to play, eat, party, and explore while in the neighborhood.
Where in your neighborhood can you go for a romantic dinner? Grab a quick bite? To Party?
If you're looking for a quick bite in the neighborhood, I would recommend either Girasol Bakery or Luigi's pizza. Both are located on the corner of 21st and 5th Ave. Luigi's is a neighborhood institution and has even been featured in movies and TV shows. If you're looking for greasy late-night drunk food, Girasol's massive portion of steak nachos will do the trick.
As for partying, we have a modest selection of gay bars, but they've sort of become Cheers-like spots for me. Excelsior, on 15th and 5th Ave, has become a staple for my friends and me. What I like about it is that you're always likely to see the friendly gayborhood regulars as well as some new faces on the peak-nights. They offer drag shows, karaoke, and private events in their upstairs space as well as a lounge and cozy backyard. Ginger's is also a fun spot. It's more of a lesbian hangout, but they are definitely friendly to the gays.
What should an out-of-neighborhooder do for Pride?
I love Brooklyn Pride, because it's not quite as overwhelming as Manhattan's. Even though the selection of gay bars in the neighborhood is scarce, EVERY bar becomes a gay bar during Pride. I love that it's in our neighborhood as opposed to Williamsburg or Bushwick. It brings some excitement to a comparatively quieter neighborhood. Walk up 5th Avenue and check out all the local bars, restaurants, and shops. Nearly everything in Park Slope is independently owned and operated. Very few franchises or pretentious trendy places. Also, all the locals know about THAT gay bar in the neighborhood. Xstasy Night Club on 26th and 5th Ave tends to heat up during the evening
Friend visiting out of town? Where would you bring him/her?
Another big development on the south west side of the neighborhood is Industry City. With tons of courtyard bars, small vendors (including an all-avocado restaurant), and events, there's always something to do there. Salsa Sundays, a free outdoor salsa concert, has become a new summer ritual between my friends and me. There's so much to discover there, and it's likely to impress someone from out of town!
What do you dislike most about the destination?
What I love about the neighborhood is also what I dislike about the neighborhood. I love that there's a close-knit community and that you will always see someone you know when walking down the street. That being said, this neighborhood feels a little like Steel Magnolias sometimes. There's always some kind of gossip among the locals.
Alive, dead or fictional – who is your favorite local?
We sometimes say that we have a population over 1 million permanent residents thanks to the gorgeous Green-Wood Cemetery. I love to walk to the top of the hill in Green-Wood and visit Leonard Bernstein. There, at the highest natural point in Brooklyn, you'll find his grave tucked away behind the massive mausoleums and extravagant family tombs. You'd never guess that one of the greatest composers and conductors of the 20th century lies beneath the most modest little tombstone. When the weather is nice, I love to sit on the bench near his resting place, look at the gorgeous skyline, and pay my respects to the Maestro.
Main photo thanks to our friends @bklyner