Gristmill, a restaurant helmed by 26-year old chef and owner Jake Novick-Finder, has opened its doors in Park Slope. Novick-Finder, was born and raised in the neighborhood and is returning to his roots after most recently working as the executive pastry chef at the now closed Ribelle in Brookline, MA.
His career began at 12 we he became a pastry intern at Tribeca’s now defunct Chanterelle. From there, heworked his way up through some of the most prestigious kitchens in New York including Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Café.
At Gristmill, Novick-Finder takes a casual approach to refined food with a heavy emphasis on local and seasonal cuisine. Close to 90 percent of ingredients used on the menu are sourced from New York State farms, including his mother’s farm in Rhinebeck. Jake’s passion for local foods was nurtured from a young age when his family moved from Brooklyn to the Hudson Valley. There, he says, “eating from local farms was just a way of living.” His mother, a lawyer turned farmer, grew much of the food that he ate each night at the dinner table.
The menu at Gristmill reflects Novick-Finder’s commitment to seasonality and sustainable ethos. Nothing is wasted if possible, as evidenced by beets served with their greens and a heavy dusting of za’tar breadcrumbs. Even cornbread gets the garden treatment, which arrives smothered in a woodsy salad of edible flowers and herbs.
But the real stars of the menu are the pizzas. The crust is made from a combination of four flours that Novick-Finder says he has chosen for their precise contributions of “structure, flavor, textural and fermentation development in the dough.” Made mostly from a milled-to-order spelt flour and baked in a wood-fired oven, the crust is unusually flavorful with a hint of sweetness. There are currently five different pizzas on the menu, ranging from a classic cheese to a more adventurous fennel pie with bacon, blue cheese, dandelion greens and balsamico.
Gristmill is currently open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m.-12:00 a.m. (closed Tuesday). Reservations are recommended.