City Pulse

By Matt Dorville

Many entrepreneurs focus on bringing their restaurant outside their borough, burning their flame as bright as possible, while others inhabit their community, happy to mix their aesthetic with their communities flavors and spices. Ortine, a bright new restaurant in Prospect Heights, combines a very homely comfortable atmosphere with traditional rustic cooking.

They focus their cooking on local, organic ingredients, mixing seasonal produce into recipes carried over by the owner’s Italian mother-in-law. I sampled a delicious Mediterranean platter with homemade hummus and a tasty potato and onion pizza. The only item not local on the ingredient list was the Kombucha tea, a cultured tea that the owner came to love while living in China. The tea was slightly sweet, due to the fact that my particular tea was a bit young (the gestation period is supposedly seven days) but it tasted refreshing and I began to understand why it was quickly becoming the café’s signature drink.

I found myself impressed with the details of the café as well: the metal cups already on the table, the beautifully designed ceiling and the book exchange on the wall next to many of today’s paper. The café’s only misstep is the inclusion of fine dining additions to the menu, such as braised ribs or Cornish hen, which, while they might be lovely, seem out of place to the spirit of the place. All this will be worked out though, as Ortine feels promising for a neighborhood that is showcasing more and more exciting choices in cuisine.

Originally published January 2009
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