There is nothing more exhilarating than those few seconds after the ball thumps onto the shiny lane. Frozen mid-pose, you watch as it makes the long journey from your contorted hand to the pins. Pow! Whether you’re still in need of a classy, fun, and inexpensive idea for Valentine’s Day or the gang just wants to go out somewhere new, throw on your retro bowling shirt and head to The Gutter, a place the “Dude” (and Obama) would totally approve of.
While Bedford Avenue is bustling, the walk to the borough’s hottest bowling alley is not. You’ll pass abandoned warehouses, industrial factories, loading docks, and windowless walls. And you’ll arrive, finally, at a nondescript building under a Coca-Cola sign that simply says “Bowl.”
Manhattan has a serious shortage of bowling lanes, and the few out there are frankly too trendy and expensive, even for this island; $10 a drink on top of the $6 shoe rental and $9 bowling rate is a lousy deal, especially when you know one drink won’t cut it. But a quick trip on the L train to the first stop in Brooklyn will brighten the mood and put bills back in your wallet.
The vibe inside is part retro, part industrial with a mix of flea-market lamps, old-school furniture, and exposed brick. If you’re looking for high-tech digital scorekeeping machines, you won’t find them here. Gutter uses those big consoles you remember from when you were a kid, which work well and add to the retro flair. The eight lanes are polished and pretty, and one game is only $6 before 8pm, or $7 after 8pm. Shoe rentals are $3. If you’re a night owl, you can bowl two-for-one Monday through Thursday after 1am. Before or after you bowl, have a drink at Gutter’s bar, a roomy spot in the front of the building with pool tables and big windows for watching your friends flub an easy strike. All 12 beers on tap are from local brews, and happy hour specials are Monday through Friday until 8pm and after 1am.
You won’t find more than a bag of chips at the bowling alley, but Fornino Pizza (187 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, 718.384.6004) is a local favorite and will deliver to The Gutter all night. A popular choice for its coal and wood oven baked gourmet-style pizza, the Margherita, Spinach, and Al Roker are big hits; one large eight slice pizza is $20.
How to get there: Take the L train to Bedford Avenue (at North 7th Street). Walk north on Bedford Avenue seven blocks to N. 14th. Turn left and walk one block to Berry Street. Gutter is on the left between Berry and Wythe. To arrange a private party, email firstname.lastname@example.org. (200 North 14th Street, Williamsburg, 718.387.3585, thegutterbrooklyn.com)