An Insider Guide to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, with the Duo Behind Homeware Brand PORTA

An Insider Guide to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, with the Duo Behind Homeware Brand PORTA

Head out on a bagel-fuelled tour of Boerum Hill with Alice Russotti and Francesca del Balzo, founders of the neighbourhood’s hot new homeware store

“Boreum Hill is built on its people, and they’re people with
character,” says Alice Russotti, co-founder of independent homeware
store PORTA.
Both Rusotti and her business partner, Francesca del Balzo, were
attracted to the independent spirit of the area when seeking
potential shop locations for their new store last October.

The neighbourhood’s homespun character had them hooked. Despite
its current desirability, this leafy patch of NYC has preserved its founding suburban
character. In streets lined with brick and brownstone townhouses,
hip coffee shops, up-and-coming restaurants and a Lululemon store
rub up against beloved delis, mom-and-pop cafés and sidewalk plant

PORTA, Brooklyn, NYC, USA
PORTA founders, Brooklyn, USA

The window of PORTA, and the shop founders. | Photo credit:
Adrianna Glavianno, Daisy Johnson.

PORTA, its serif name stamped across the elegant old-style
shopfront, fits right in. The homeware store showcases colourful
and creative European craftsmanship in bespoke tableware and
whimsical decorative items. To peruse the shelves is to peer across
the pond into the workshops of the continent’s artisans. The duo –
both London-bred, but US-based – collaborated with craftspeople
across Europe to reimagine traditional handicrafts for a Brooklyn-based audience. Hand-embroidered
tablecloths and napkins from northern Portugal do away with the
typical multicoloured designs of traditional napery in favour of a
one-tone floral motif. Italian-made plates painted with dizzying
designs celebrating the Palio, a biannual wild horse race in
Siena’s main piazza – are produced by a family-run
Tuscan company founded in 1450. Alice’s previous careers within
auction houses and as a curator have been put to good use; this is
a choice edit that amplifies the generational story of European
craft for a new audience. The commitment to heritage, with a side
helping of creativity, has made it an easy new neighbour in
independent-friendly Boerum Hill.

We sat down with the PORTA duo to get the lowdown on shopping
local, eating well and supporting community-focused initiatives in
the neighbourhood.

Alice Russotti and Francesca del Balzo’s guide to Boerum Hill,

Three words to describe Boerum Hill’s vibe?

Creative, independent and local.

Why should we visit?

Because Boreum Hill is amazing. It’s steeped in history and it’s
beautiful. There are shops, groceries and butchers that have been
here forever, as well as new independent businesses that have moved
in more recently.

PORTA, Brooklyn, NYC, USA
PORTA, Brooklyn, NYC, USA

PORTA offers European-sourced homeware. | Photo credit:
Adrianna Glavianno

Where should we grab breakfast?

Seed Bagels
. They serve delicious, chewy bagels – and have the
best playlist in town.

Your go-to coffee spot?

Café Kitsuné on Bond Street. It opened last
year, just around the corner from our shop.

Somewhere for lunch?

is lovely on a sunny day, when you can sit outside. It has a small
menu; we usually go for the quinoa salad or the escarole salad,
with added avocado. For a takeout lunch, try Rice &
. Just make sure you’re hungry.

Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
PORTA, Brooklyn, NYC, USA

Atlantic Avenue, left, and PORTA homeware. Photo credit: Gus
Powell/NYC & Company, Adrianna Glavianno

Best spot for a dusk drink?

The Brooklyn Inn (148 Hoyt St). It’s very old-school Brooklyn,
with a huge wooden bar.

Any neighbourhood shops we should visit?

Head to Outline, a multi-brand boutique started by three
childhood friends, one of whom used to work for Opening Ceremony.
The space is beautiful and the offering is super cool. You’ll also
find Primary Essentials on our block, a tableware shop with
a different, but complementary offering to PORTA. Consignment
is an amazing luxury store nearby, too. It’s been here
since the 90s. The owner, Eva, has brought the neighbourhood
together to create a support network for shopkeepers.

If we’re hankering for more homeware, where should we

Try Humble House and Michele Varian.

Tell us about somewhere we wouldn’t think to visit, but

Invisible Dog Art Centre
is housed in a three-storey former
factory building built in 1863. It was founded by Lucien Zayan, and
the ground floor is used for exhibitions and performances by
artists from around the world. The second and third floors are
divided up into over 30 artists’ studios. There’s always something
to see there, and you can pop into KULE, which occupies the ground-floor shop, on
your way out to buy works from independent designers.

ACE Hotel, Brooklyn
ACE Hotel, Brooklyn

Interiors at ACE Hotel, Brooklyn. | Photo credit: Stephen
Kent Johnson

Anyone doing something worthy we should know about?

Check out MPatmos, a clothing store that designs modern wardrobe
staples and sophisticated, textural knitwear which is made to be
passed down to future generations. The brand works with small,
family-owned factories and workshops, and merges sustainable
artisan techniques with technology to create beautiful designs in
luxurious, natural fibres.

We’ve been impressed by Spoke Circles, too. Founded by Lia Love
Avellino, it creates social circles designed to help modern adults
engage with others, explore ideas and clarify their life’s
direction. The space is open and welcoming to all who want and need

Somewhere you couldn’t live without?

The Ace Hotel makes the most amazing zucchini bread
in the world. It’s the perfect combination of savoury and sweet,
and we find ourselves going out of our way to buy it. We’re never
more crestfallen than when they’ve run out. Cannot live without

Any souvenirs we should pick up?

Our Bud Tablecloth, which we designed with a
stamperia [traditional printing house] in Italy. We made the
pattern by isolating a single detail from a more ornate Portuguese
design, increasing the scale and then having it hand-printed with
natural dyes.

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