Gorgeous Charcoal-Grilled Fare at The Rusty Face
An overlooked treat in Williamsburg
The Rusty Face (188 Grand St, Brooklyn NY) is a Mediterranean coastal tapas restaurant that prides itself on serving colorful, charcoal-grilled food. It opened quietly in February of 2021 and seems to have had a little bit of trouble finding its footing in the intense Williamsburg restaurant scene: on a busy Saturday morning with folks bustling about outside and queuing up for 30 minute waits at nearby restaurants, the Rusty Face was eerily empty.
I couldn’t really figure out why this was the case. Maybe it’s a little too dark in here to draw a crowd: the tables are a deep mahogany and the floor is painted black, so there’s no light whatsoever in the space. Or maybe it’s the name of the restaurant itself, which doesn’t necessarily make one think of brightly colored grilled seafood. However, I will be the first to say it: the Williamsburg crowds are absolutely sleeping on The Rusty Face, because this food is good.
We chose to order off of both the brunch menu and the dinner menu to get a good sampling of dishes. The first dish we got was the shakshuka, which was pretty standard, but cooked to perfection: the egg yolks split on contact, and the dish was paired with crispy, salty bread that really elevated the experience. (We had to order more.) I’m definitely going to take a note from them and top the next shakshuka I make with feta and scallions, which gave this dish an extra salty crunch.
While the shakshuka was lovely, the grilled octopus was the real star dish. Covered in citrus and graced with an earthy char, this octopus dish manages to harness the delicate taste of octopus meat while also making sure that it’s tender enough to chew. Often, grilled octopus comes out too crispy, sacrificing that unique octopus texture; that’s not true for this dish. There are also hollandaise peppers and capers scattered atop the dish, and the octopus sits on an oily bed of potatoes, a perfect pairing.
Go against the grain and give The Rusty Face a chance — maybe if we band together, we can give this great new seafood spot the attention it deserves.