1904 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Certified by Kehilah Kashrus
I decided to have dinner at Sophie’s Bistro one evening at the end of February, not knowing that it would be one of the coldest evenings of an already windy, unforgiving winter. I finally reached the bistro, located on 1904 Coney Island Avenue between Avenues O and P, with flaming red ears, numb fingers, and a gnawing stomach. No matter. Once I stepped in there, I immediately forgot the tempest outside and was welcomed to a dairy bistro that can only be described as completely cozy.
In fact, Sophie’s has considered every clichéd yet irresistible association that you may have with the adjective “cozy” and bedecked the interior with it: Fireplace? Check. Intimate lighting? Check again. There are bar stools and small tables in the front of the bistro for those who are just in for a quick bite, but since I wanted to treat myself to a full, leisurely dinner, I was guided toward the central seating area.
The menu teems with possibility and will even curry favor from ardent carnivores. For appetizers, I settled on Sophie’s nachos, which dripped deliciously with melted cheddar and guacamole. The spinach salad, served with fresh mushrooms, dried cranberries, orange wedges, feta cheese, and almond slices, is also recommended, as it has that perfectly sweet, salty, and crunchy mixture that many salad-devotees crave. And while strict dieters will heartily approve Sophie’s salads, their eyes will also dance right over to the brick-oven pizza menu. The bianca pizza, thin crusted and topped with ricotta, fresh mozzarella, and steamed spinach, competes with the primavera pizza and its mélange of vegetables. “We can put anything you’d like on your pizza,” said Uzi Amar, the friendly founder of Sophie’s Bistro. ‘We have it all!”
After the pizza was happily tucked away, the pasta options started to seduce. Choosing to settle on classic penne ala vodka was a smart move; the pasta’s creamy pink sauce was excellent in texture and had a rich taste. Of course, after all the pizza and pasta, “carbohydrate-overload” guilt can be induced quite easily. Should this guilt strike, Sophie’s gourmet fish is there to alleviate it. “Our ingredients are always fresh – especially when it comes to fish,” Amar informed me. “We order the highest quality of fish.” After savoring a tender bite of my salmon genovese, a pan seared salmon glazed with pesto sauce and mushrooms, I can readily attest to Amar’s claim.
Dessert at Sophie’s was particularly memorable. By this point of my dinner, every seat had been occupied with couples catching up over pasta primavera and friends congregating for birthday parties. The buzz of conversation provided a soothing backdrop for enjoying a chocolate martini (presented in a decidedly stylish glass) and a crepe sweetly oozing with marshmallow and caramel filling.
Curious as to whether Sophie’s Bistro is able to host events like a sheva berachot or a pidyon haben, I asked about party rooms. Amar answered with a broad smile and a display of Sophie’s party room, which is at once spacious and intimately elegant. Although it is a walled outdoor area, it is perfectly heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer. The best part of the party room, however, is the exquisite water fountain and fish pond nestled in a corner. “Everyone loves it. Especially the children” he said.
“When there are no longer available tables in the bistro, and there aren’t reserved events that night, we open up the party room and ensure that all our guests have a seat,” Amar said.
Thanking the Amars, and tipping the proverbial hat to the talented chefs, I glanced around once more at the bistro, reluctant to leave its cozy, jovial surroundings. I braced myself for the harshest of winds, but felt warmed by the gourmet goodness of Sophie’s Bistro.
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