|By Bill Farrell, Daily News, New York
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 21, 2003 -Call it the little restaurant that could.
The Grocery, a tiny 13-table place in Carroll Gardens, has been voted New York City's best American restaurant in the 25th annual Zagat Survey.
The four-year-old restaurant, which offers a seasonal menu, cooked up a near-perfect score in the ratings, registering an overall 28 of a possible 30 points for food.
That put it in the rarefied -- not to mention far more expensive -- company of such culinary landmarks as Bouley, Jean Georges and Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan and Peter Luger in Williamsburg.
Charlie Kiely, who owns and operates The Grocery with Sharon Pachter, said they especially appreciated the ratings because they come from their customers through the Zagat survey.
"When we opened four years ago, we wanted to bring the food we believe in," Kiely said. "The people have responded."
Yesterday afternoon, Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilman Bill DiBlasio (D-Carroll Gardens) stopped by the restaurant to offer congratulations to the pair.
"This is a wonderful day for Brooklyn," DiBlasio said. "Come and get a taste of this, Manhattan, because it's slowly ending for you."
Markowitz added, "Brooklyn has the best eclectic food, the best ethnic food and most diversity in restaurants. Brooklyn is quickly becoming known around the nation as a destination for foodies."
Markowitz and DiBlasio said they have eaten at The Grocery, which is on the burgeoning Smith St. restaurant row.
"They deserve every single one of those 28 points," DiBlasio said.
While Kiely and Pachter might have loved to bask in all the attention, their main concern was preparing last night's menu -- which featured foie gras terrine, steamed Manila clams, greenmarket antipasto, risotto with duck confit and chicken with soft polenta.
The two vowed that the Zagat ranking, far from spoiling them, will not generate any major changes.
"We can seat 30 people, and we're pretty much doing that now," Kiely said.
"We started on a small street, and we don't plan on working on a bigger street," added Pachter.
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(c) 2003, Daily News, New York. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.