Filled with charming churches, whose ringing bells punctuate the days, together with quirky boutiques, trendy bars, Italian bakeries, and restaurants featuring a wide variety of cuisines, with an emphasis on traditional Italian cuisine, Carroll Gardens maintains a sense of Old World charm. While most of the restaurants are small and family-owned, there are Michelin-rated restaurants for those special date nights. Abundant coffee shops and bakeries ensure you are never far from a tasty pastry and your next cup of joe.
Unlike many neighborhoods, Carroll Gardens has an impressive array of grocery stores, including the popular Court Street Grocers. While Carroll Park is the main green space, located in the heart of the neighborhood, there are other parks, such as the Brooklyn Bridge Park, Cadman Plaza Park, and Van Voorhees Playground, all within easy walking distance.
Court and Smith Streets are the main commercial areas, packed with bakeries, intimate bars, unique boutiques, and small mom-and-pop Italian cafes, many with sidewalk or patio seating. Court Street has most of the older businesses that have operated for generations in the same location. Smith Street has more trendy establishments.
If you are looking for a neighborhood that is quieter and less congested, Carroll Gardens might be a perfect fit. It is a great place to raise a family, with good schools and safe streets. It is the type of place where you will know the names of your neighbors and the owners of the shops and restaurants you frequent. It is a great walkable neighborhood for retirees, and an easy commute into the city for young professionals. The streets are shady and tree-lined, and many feature brownstones and townhouses that sport sizeable front gardens, adding to the natural charm of the neighborhood.
Lavender Lake. This small restaurant has a great patio, where you can eat and drink while you enjoy screenings, or dance the night away at their lively DJ parties. It is an undiscovered gem favorited by locals. Located at 383 Carroll Street.
La Casita Yarn Shop. Handcrafting is making a big comeback, especially yarn arns, such as knitting. If you want to learn how to knit, or find new friends that share this same interest, drop by La Casita. They offer classes by their fireplace, which is especially cozy in the winter months, and you can pull up a seat, nibble on a pastry and enjoy a warm drink or a glass of wine as you knit-one, purl-two. Located at 253 Smith Street.
Yesterday’s News. If you’re into vintage - whether it’s books, furniture, or clothes - a trip to Yesterday’s News will satisfy your need to search out vintage treasures to decorate yourself or your home. Located at 428 Court Street.
The Clover Club. If you enjoy listening to jazz, drop into the luxurious and elegant, yet laid back, Clover Club on one of their frequent jazz nights. Gather your friends by the fireplace and enjoy the specialty of the house, a “Bloody Maria,” which is made with tequila instead of the more typical vodka or gin. Located at 210 Smith Street.
Carroll Park. This lovely park was takes the name of Charles Carroll, a Roman Catholic who signed the Declaration of Independence. Brooklyn’s third oldest park has recreational courts, playgrounds, and Wi-Fi. Located between President and Carroll Streets, from Court Street to Smith Street.
Smith Street Stage. Featuring everything from music, dance, and comedy productions to full-on staging of Shakespearean classics, Smith Street Stage brings theater to the masses. Located at 291 President Street.
Fernando’s Focacceria. In keeping with Carroll Gardens’ Italian heritage, Fernando’s has been serving up Sicilian fare since 1904, based on traditional family recipes that have been handed down over generations. Located at 151 Union Street.
Caputo’s Bake Shop. Known far and wide for their lobster tail…wait a minute! Lobster tail in a bake shop? Never fear, it is a sfogliatelle pastry, which looks somewhat like a lobster tail, stuffed with whipped cream. Caputo’s has been serving the neighborhood since 1904. Try the prosciutto bread, too. Located at 329 Court Street.
What You Might See
If you walk down Carroll Street, you will see a tiny little wooden bridge that spans the Gowanus Canal. An old sign imposes a $5 fine on any driver who dares to cross the bridge any faster than at a leisurely walking speed.
The Italian heritage of Carroll Gardens has resulted in a lot of religious-themed statuary, both in churchyards and private gardens.
What’s In The Future
Property values in Carroll Gardens will continue to appreciate, even through any economic downturns, as there are far more people wanting to live in this charming, historic neighborhood than there is housing available. People will continue to renovate existing properties and high-rise developments will pop up as space becomes available, such as the newer condo and rental apartment buildings that are infiltrating Court, President, and Union Streets.
What You Might Not Know
The “gardens” in Carroll Gardens can be credited to Richard Butts, the surveyor who drew up the plots for the blocks between 1st and 4th Places back in 1846, resulting in front yards that are 33.5 feet deep, giving residents huge spaces to create natural oases in the middle of a bustling city.
What We Love
Carroll Gardens feels like a cohesive community. People are seen strolling throughout the neighborhood, meeting their friends on restaurant patios, or stopping by a local watering hole afterwork to shake off the stress. Children and adults alike can take advantage of outdoor recreation in the playgrounds and parks. With the diversity of residential property types available, from pre-war apartments and single-family homes, single- and multi-family brownstones and townhouses, and renovated row houses that have been converted to condos, there is housing in Carroll Gardens for everyone, with each block looking a bit different from the last, contributing to this neighborhood’s unique charm. An abundance of locally-owned shops and restaurants add to the neighborhood atmosphere, where you will always feel welcome. Young families like the quieter streets and young professionals like the easy and relatively quick commutes into various parts of Manhattan that make Carroll Gardens an attractive neighborhood to live in if you work in the City.