What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Professional Cycling? Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France may be at the top of your list, but I bet you didn’t know that Guyanese brothers Jermaine and Paul Burrowes are elite Professional Cyclists who have been living in Flatbush, Brooklyn for over two decades.
They and their two other brothers, Johann and Horace, are the founders of Team We Stand United, a non-profit cycling team that started racing the NYC circuit in 2004. Since then their team has grown to 15 elite riders and is recognized as one of the most successful elite cycling teams in the northeast. Cool right?! But that is only the beginning of their story.
The brothers are also the founders and owners of ZuriLee Pizza Bar in Flatbush, the first authentic Caribbean wood-fired pizza restaurant in the city. My girlfriend and I decided to check them out and were blown away by how absolutely amazing their pizza was.
Started in 2015, ZuriLee is named for the combination of Jermaine and Paul’s childrens’ middle names, Zuri and Lee. The restaurant is an ode to the brothers’ favorite food: pizza!
After frequenting legendary pizza spots around the city like Di Fara’s, they were inspired to create their own unique version of a NYC Pizzeria, featuring chef Paul’s wild creativity with a hint of Caribbean influence and an emphasis on scratch cooking and quality ingredients.
The decor in ZuriLee features a big art mural opposite the bar in the front and a back dining room with wooden tables made from converted sewing stations. The unique bicycle crank ZuriLee logo hangs on the large wall in the back room and trophies from Jermaine and Paul’s many cycling wins can be found on shelves throughout.
Our host for the evening was restaurant manager Lala. She told us a bit of history about the place and that although the brothers were fairly new in the ‘pizza scene’ they definitely weren’t new to the restaurant one, having founded MangoSeed, literally right next door, nearly ten years ago. Creating recipes inspired by their talented home-cook father, MangoSeed has become both a neighborhood staple and destination for lovingly prepared wholly delicious Caribbean fusion food.
She recommended we start with their Brussels sprouts and edamame, along with a couple cocktails of course. Let me tell you that I have never in my life had better Brussels sprouts. Period. Fire-roasted and tossed with pearl onions, smoked trout and a lemon drizzle, I dare you to find a better one anywhere in the 5-boroughs. Their edamame is damn good too, seasoned with truffle oil and sea salt that will rock your world.
For cocktails I tried their For a Few Dollars More, smoked pineapple, cinnamon infused bourbon over slow melting pineapple spheres, and my better half chose the Crooklyn with bourbon, lemon, strawberry black pepper jam, and ginger ale. Yo – these cocktails are Good!! But you know what makes them even better? The amazing Happy Hour when they are just $5. Yep, only five dollars, people!
Lala told us their signature pie and top seller is the Oxtail, a blistered, airy crust topped with mozzarella, shaved Grana Padano cheese and flavorful oxtail ragu, made in-house by braising whole oxtails, hand-cutting and seasoning them, then cooking them down for 5 hours. I’m not the biggest fan of oxtail but decided to go for it, and I’m pretty happy I did as the pie was AMAZING! I’m a true born and semi-raised New Yorker and I know my pizza. This Oxtail rivals right along with my favorite Avenue J Brooklyn square pizza at Di Fara. The Jerk Chicken with mozzarella and roasted corn was equally delicious.
Although I very highly recommend you get the Oxtail, they have a creative variety of both red and white sauce based pies to try, and you can bet that we’ll be going back again soon to try them all.
Not only was the food amazing but the service was outstanding as well. Lala was really friendly and I recommend you search her out if you visit although she’ll probably be busy running back and forth between the two restaurants which are actually connected. In the summertime they have a beautiful backyard area which seats a lot of people. This is my new go-to place and I’m taking my mom there soon to celebrate a belated Mother’s Day (I still haven’t taken her out to celebrate and she’s ready to kill me!).
I do think it should be mentioned that these brothers are indeed brothers, and having a thriving African-American owned business and also being elite competitive professional cyclists is pretty damn cool. The Burrowes Brothers are also avid sneaker collectors, and other sneakerheads may recognize some of their pie names as references to classic Jordans. They are also active community members and can often be seen riding around Prospect Park training for their next race when not working the kitchen at one of their restaurants.
Definitely check this place out if you haven’t already. Come hungry as you’ll wanna try everything!
– Michael Riegelman
Happy hour: Tuesday all day, Wed – Sun 5pm – 8pm
Brunch: Saturday 11am – 4pm and Sunday 11:30am – 4:30pm
About the WS United Cycling Club
TeamWe Stand United believe in fairness, and in training hard to succeed. They also encourage the development of leadership skill, sense of community responsibility and a healthy lifestyle. Team We Stand United encourage all their members to eat right and compete without using drugs, hormones or synthetic chemicals to enhance performance.
Photos via ZuriLee Pizza Bar Restaurant and by Socially Superlative