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If Rachel Antonoff Can't Live in Stars Hollow, She'll Settle for Brooklyn Heights

It's "the friendliest place on Earth."

Peggy Truong

Rachel Antonoff wants to live in Stars Hollow. You know—the fictional, cutesy Connecticut town from Gilmore Girls . But she can't because Stars Hollow is sadly just another set in Hollywood. So the closest Rachel will ever come to calling herself a Stars Hollow resident is in the form of her Brooklyn Heights apartment. The 34-year-old fashion designer, who calls the neighborhood "the friendliest place on Earth," just celebrated her first full year of living at Mansion House on Hick Street.

What was your first impression of Brooklyn Heights?
Rachel Antonoff: My brother [musician Jack Antonoff] has lived here a lot longer than I have and he's currently my neighbor which is also very nice. I think one of the first times I visited him I got off the train and was just like, "Where the fuck am I? This is like Pleasantville." The A train takes 15 minutes from Midtown and then suddenly you're in this like, very residential feeling area.

Who's your favorite neighborhood character?
I love Sammy, who owns the Pet's Emporium on Montague Street. My dog Lafitte will just insist... he just drags me there every day. Sam is the nicest guy who always remembers your name and is always happy to see you.

Describe the Brooklyn Heights style.
Relaxed. Extremely casual, terminally casual. A little kooky.

Where do you shop?
Believe it or not, I really like to go to Ann Taylor Loft. That's in part because it's next door to the Le Pain Quotidian on Montague and also because they actually have a lot of great stuff. I've gotten a ton of stuff there.

There's a Housing Works across the street from the Ann Taylor. I pop in there every now and again.

Rocco and Jezebel is a little pet store that also does day care and boarding and I get most of my fun pet toys there.

What are some of your favorite restaurants?
Noodle Pudding is my all-time favorite. The name is kind of misleading. It's just like the perfect Italian restaurant. It reminds me of Lady and the Tramp and Moonstruck. It's exactly what you want in an Italian restaurant. It's something Billy Joel would tell you about.

Clark's Restaurant is great. It's a diner. It's excellent food. Great, classic, diner food.

There's a place called Iris on Columbia. It's really cute, small. You can get a really great biscuit with jam. But they also do really amazing dinners. I love that place.

Fortune House is a Chinese restaurant that reminds me a lot of my childhood in New Jersey. It's just very low key. They have a lunch special that I am convinced costs less than the ingredients it takes to make the lunch special. I think it's $6.25. and you get a lot of stuff. My brother and I have a running joke about basically, [if] we had really expensive pedicures, we'd be like, "We could have had 500 lunches at Fortune House for the price of these."

Where can one get a good cup of coffee?
I frequent Le Pain Quotidian, which isn't exclusive to Brooklyn Heights obviously.

There's a little deli coffee shop called Cranberry on Cranberry Street. It's great. I go there a lot.

There's a coffee shop called Tazza. It's kind of my third choice.

And I usually go to Clark's for coffee.

Do you have a favorite bar?
Brooklyn Heights is a very potent combo of young families and people who are about to die of natural causes. It's a very old neighborhood. The only times I've ever been out and had a drink in Brooklyn Heights were at restaurants. I must be wrong so I'm going to do some research.

I feel like if you want to go somewhere past 10 PM you have to go into Cobble Hill. Seriously. I don't think there is a single bar. I feel like that can't even be true. I think there's a bar called Henry's End.

Do you have a favorite park?
Hillside Park is the best for dogs. It's like insanely enormous and there's always a lot of dogs there. Lafitte has the best time.

What's a Sunday in Brooklyn Heights like?
There's a lot of strollers and dogs and walkers. Everyone's kind of out and friendly. People take walks. I love walking around the neighborhood. I'm really into StreetEasy and real estate and there are so many insanely adorable places that I just like walking up and down the streets and looking up the addresses like a creep.

Where do you go for peace and quiet?
There's a little alley called Hunts Lane. There's a bunch of little side streets and alleys like this but this one I think is the best. It's just so cute. There's little houses lining it. I think mostly it's meant for people who live on it. There aren't any benches or anything. But I like to check that out sometimes.

What's one stereotype of Brooklyn Heights that's actually true?
I think probably the babies aspect. The young family. Babies everywhere. There's a nursery school in the neighborhood. There's a lot of children.

Has the neighborhood changed much?
Something that's interesting about Brooklyn Heights is how little it's changed. [There are] so few new restaurants. It really stays the same. The largest change to the neighborhood has been the fact that the movie theater [Brooklyn Heights Cinema] closed. It's an iconic, older looking theater. Not a nice one. It was a bummer.

What's the weirdest thing you've seen in the neighborhood?
Everyone seems to know each other. It really feels like a neighborhood. Which reminds me of the Stars Hollow thing.

Have you reached that level of neighborhood fame after one year?
Getting there. My boyfriend finds it really annoying to be on the phone with me now because I'm constantly like, "Hi, how's your hip?"

This interview has been edited and condensed.

*****
RACHEL'S QUICK PICKS
Favorite Pizza: Fascati's Pizza
Most underrated spot: Fortune House
Favorite Block: Hunts Lane