Iconic restaurants in New York neighborhoods hardest hit by Sandy are just in the beginning stages of their restoration efforts. For his latest piece in the New York Times, Jeff Gordinier checks in some of the city’s most beloved institutions. As he reports, “[T]he storm’s assault on restaurants like Totonno’s tore at the very heart of the New York experience.”

Brooklyn spots hit hardest by storm can be found in Brighton Beach, Howard Beach, Red Hook, and Hoboken—classic joints like Randazzo’s Clam Bar, Jimmy’s Famous Heros, and Gargiulo’s. For both residents and visitors, the restaurants have helped define New York. Gargiulo’s, for instance, gave countless locals a space to hold life’s milestone functions while ensuring a quality of food comparable to Grandma’s.

Antoinette Balzano, a third-generation co-owner of Totonno’s, holds tightly to the history of her grandfather’s pizzeria (“He brought pizza to this country, my grandfather did”) as she works through the logistical nightmare of re-opening the restaurant.

[via The New York Times]