The restaurant opened in January and already boasts several glowing Yelp reviews, which is not surprising. Nicandra’s atmosphere is intimate; the kitchen is semi-open to the dining room, and small plants and candles adorn each table. The restaurant’s owner, Taco Tapia, made all of Nicandra’s decor himself. “I took a lot of trips to Home Depot,” he laughed.
Tapia named the restaurant after his mother. “We have a guest book for people to sign when they come in and try our food,” he said. “I’m going to give it to my mom for her birthday.”
Heartstring-tugging namesake aside, Taco, along with his brother Gustavo, are Nicandra’s sole staff members. They come in insanely early in the morning to set up for brunch and fire up the kitchen for the day.
Taco has been working in restaurants since his family moved to Brooklyn from Mexico 16 years ago, and he didn’t want his neighborhood to miss out on fine dining. “I started as a dishwasher when I was 12,” Tapia recalls.
“I grew up in Bushwick, and even though I’ve seen the neighborhood develop quite a bit over the years, it was still missing upscale restaurants. I wanted to bring the kind of dining experience that you would normally have to go to Manhattan or Williamsburg to find.”
Nicandra’s does give off the sexy/dim lighting vibes one might associate with a fancy Italian restaurant, but what stands out the most is the cuisine. Taco has a Michelin Star background, and he takes pride in putting his own spin on each item on the menu.
“We make everything from scratch, from our pastas to our desserts, everything is made in our kitchen.” he said. “My favorite dish on the menu is the roasted beet salad. We marinate it in champagne, sugar and water. It’s the perfect combination of sweetness and acidity.”
While I only got a chance to glance into the kitchen at their homemade pastas, it was evident that the first-timers who left notes in their guestbook were Nicandra’s believers. The pages were covered in paragraphs of raving reviews.
“I’m a creative person, and I love to explore new combinations and develop new dishes. What I’m most excited about is seeing and hearing our guests reactions,” said Taco. “It makes me very happy and excited to continue doing what I love.”
While the brothers hope to expand to a larger location in the future, I’m just thankful that the flagship Nicandra’s is only a 10-minute walk from my apartment.
All photos by Gustavo Ponce for Bushwick Daily.
An upscale Italian restaurant owned and operated by two lifelong Bushwick brothers.
264 Irving Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Monday -Thursday, 11:45 a.m. – 4 p.m. & 5 p.m. until 11 p.m.;
Friday 11:45 a.m. – 4 p.m & 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.
social media to be announced.