A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Barrio" - Adding Warmth To The Hood

Melissa Lopata

A heavy, rustic door reminiscent of an old Mexican hacienda marks the entrance of the five-month-old Mexican Restaurant called "Barrio" located on the northwest corner of 3rd St and 7th ave. in Park Slope. Initially, the most striking visual is the authentic brilliant pink, yellow and orange colors that make up the facade. Colors with punch that immediately bring new energy to the block. The warmth doesn't stop there. Once inside, it's apparent that husband and wife owners, Spencer and Julie Rothschild, have taken special pride to ensure that the brilliant mural colors on the back wall aren't the only thing that embrace your senses. Some of the many treats that make you feel like you've been magically transported to a quaint Mexican Village are their bona fide warm tortillas with the freshest guacamole in town, green agave margaritas, and "Puebla Pork" in a peanut mole sauce. Yum! The food and drinks at Barrio will put your vacation-destination fantasies into high gear. It IS possible to feel a warm breeze and want to dig your imaginary sandals into the sand while wearing a turtleneck on a brisk fall day. Viva el "Barrio"!

I was happy to have had a chance to talk to our new neighbor and co-owner of "Barrio" Julie Rothschild about moving to Park Slope, opening a new restaurant with her husband and the new Family Bingo Night. Julie also happens to be a very talented photographer. You can see her work at www.juliebrimberg.com.

Opening Barrio was the culmination of a dream that you and your husband, Spencer Rothschild, had had for 13 years. How did you both meet and how was this mutual aspiration born?

Spencer and I met in 1995 while working together at Rain restaurant on the Upper Westside of Manhattan. At the time, I was working at Rain to supplement my budding photography career. I wouldn’t have dreamed that one day I would help build and operate my own restaurant- especially with Spencer by my side as my partner AND my husband. All I knew was that I really enjoyed working in restaurants and absolutely adored working with Spencer.

Over our 10 years together, Spencer’s restaurant career flourished and grew to become a mini-empire of six restaurants in his partnerships with Main Street Restaurant Partners (including Rain, Calle Ocho, BLT Prime) and Yushi. Even with these successes and the success of my photography business, Spencer and I continued to share a private dream of creating a restaurant together. We moved to Park Slope last September, and after settling in felt ready to make the big leap of making our dream a reality. Our favorite cuisine has always been Mexican… The earthy ingredients, varied spices, and bright flavors are irresistible to us. We took this shared passion for Mexican food and built Barrio.

Julie Rothschild and her two kids.

HSM: You recently moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn from Manhattan. What was it about the Park Slope community that inspired you to bring Barrio to the neighborhood? What makes it different from other neighborhoods and what makes Barrio different from other local Mexican restaurants?

As I previously stated, Spencer and I are crazy about Mexican food. Not only has it always been our “go-to” cuisine of choice when ordering in or dining out, it has inspired us to take several trips to visit the country. Why travel to a beach and eat mediocre resort food when you can visit the culture-filled, gorgeous country of Mexico while dining on all the incredible elements of Mexican cuisine?! Spencer and I struggled to find Mexican food in our immediate neighborhood that could transport us to our own Mexican holiday memories. Choosing Mexican as our first restaurant concept was not a decision, it was a given.

With regard to Park Slope, we moved here in search of a real neighborhood living experience (as opposed to the anonymity of Manhattan) and to our delight, that’s exactly what we’ve found. The community is so warm, welcoming, energized, diverse, sophisticated and still down to earth… We feel that Barrio’s lively and inviting d├ęcor and its’ playful yet homey food reflect these wonderfully distinctive Park Slope qualities. Our Mexican chef Adrian Leon skillfully adds his sophisticated flair to our traditional offerings and creates a menu which we believe is a cut far above standard local Mexican fare.

HSM: "Barrio," is actually a Spanish word meaning neighborhood which is especially fitting given the multi-faceted community vibe Barrio is known for. What are some of the regular features/events you offer ?

Park Slope is such a family neighborhood, so a creative and crowd-pleasing Children’s Menu was the first “special feature” we offered. It is essential that Barrio be a place where families with young children feel welcome and well served. We are thrilled by our young guests’ overwhelmingly positive response to the menu and delight in watching the kids gobble up plates of mini tacos, quesadillas, plantains, beans, and rice. While waiting for their meals to arrive, children are given a miniature paper version of our dining room’s wall mural on which they can create their own masterpieces. Many of the drawings they produce are gorgeous, and we post these drawings online (with permission from the young artists and their parents, of course). We also recently began hosting Family Bingo nights the 1st Tuesday of every month, starting at 5pm and going all night. We begin with an early evening Family Round with prizes suited to kids and families, including frisbees and gift certificates. A large portion of our customers are adult (not dining with children). They can let loose at our 8PM Bingo round when adults can win fun, tropical alcoholic drinks and shots.

In light of our country’s unfortunate economic situation, we are also offering several “Recession Busting” discounts and promotions. Every night, margaritas are just $5 at our bar. On Mondays, we offer Taco Madness- For $14.95 guests may enjoy unlimited sangria and soft taquitos (including pork carnitas, short ribs, fish, and vegetables). There is no delivery minimum for those who would like to enjoy a small meal from Barrio at home, and our food travels very well from our kitchen to your doorstep. We are continuing to brainstorm and create even more ways for our neighbors to be able to enjoy a fantastic experience at Barrio without breaking the bank.

Melissa Lopata is the creator of Hip Slope Mama. She is a former Corporate VP for a Fortune 5 company, who became a stay-at-home mom. Melissa is thrilled that HSM has taken on a life of it's own as a unique community website for all the interesting, vibrant and creative women who live in the area. She uses this site as a gateway to set up dynamic local "Mothership Events" that enlighten and empower women. She is the mother of a 1 year old and lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn.