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Mycobacterium marinum infection of the arm of a fish-tank worker.

An example of the infection in its earlier stages. These spots can grow into lesions and spread into the muscle tissue, making surgery necessary. (Source: CDC)

At least 30 people have been diagnosed with a bacterial skin infection after handling raw fish at Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens Chinese markets, spurring the New York City Department of Health to warn residents to take precautions.

The department is urging anyone who handles live or raw fish to wear waterproof gloves and to avoid direct contact with the seafood. There is no risk from consuming the food once it has been cooked, the agency notes.

The bacteria that causes the infection, Mycobacterium marinum, leads to symptoms including tender swelling and red bumps, as well as pain and difficulty moving fingers. It enters the body through cuts or injuries while handling live or raw seafood. Although easy to combat early on, if left untreated it could significantly worsen and require surgical treatment.

So far, cases have been linked to all three boroughs. The case found in Brooklyn was traced back to a Sunset Park market.

If you believe you have symptoms of the infection, you can call the Health Department’s Bureau of Communicable Disease at (347) 396-2600 and ask to speak to a physician.

If you squint into the distance, you’ll see a kitchen unit way, way, way over there.

Looking for a new place to call home? Bensonhurst Bean has got you covered. Our rental roundup is a new feature showcasing some of the deals on the market now. If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com. And if you live in or near one the places below, let neighbors know what you think in the comments.

Note: Based on conversations with real estate agents and having written this column for a few months now, rent prices have begun  to increase this month and will peak during the spring and summer. So if you’re looking to get a place, now is better than later.

Studio in Bensonhurst
Price: $1,150
Location: Avenue P and Dahill Road
Description: This apartment has two things going for it. There’s a lot of closet space (or maybe the realtor just posted several pictures of the same closet) and there are many windows. The kitchen is praised as being a “nice kitchen” but it’s more of a small kitchen-unit jammed into the room. In fact, it’s kind of pathetic. But that doesn’t sound so good in a listing, now does it?
Contact: Zuz Realty, (718) 513-3763

Two Bedrooms in Private House in Mapleton
Price: $1,700
Location: Dahill Road
Description: Located on the first floor of a private home, this apartment has been completely renovated. There is also an option to use the driveway for $150 per month.
Contact: Michael Merola, Citi Habitats, (917) 892-6664

Three “Modern” Bedrooms in Dyker Heights
Price: $1,800
Location: 6906 13th Avenue
Description: This apartment seems to be very spacious. The realtor begins to list the things featured in the apartment and then in a moment of either ecstatic joy or a nervous breakdown, they write, “Too much to mention!” So why bother.
Contact: New Century Realty Group, (917) 238-8431

Three Bedrooms in Bath Beach
Price: $1,850
Location: 8777 20th Avenue
Description: This apartment has a large kitchen, long hallways and spacious bedrooms. I assume the newspapers on the floor in the photos are not included. Bummer for a newsman like me.
Contact: Chun, (917) 972-7915

If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.


Pastosa, located on 75th Street and New Utrecht Avenue, is producing Italian food on a large enough scale to satisfy national demand. Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Sitting on 75th Street and New Utrecht Avenue there is a store, Pastosa, that looks like a relic of the old Bensonhurst, when Italians dominated the neighborhood. But everything about this business bucks assumptions and trends. While the neighborhood’s Italian clientele has been diminished by demographic changes, their operations have expanded to a national level.

“What started as a real local corner store where the local Italians can get a traditional meal has evolved,” one of Pastosa’s owners, Joseph Ajello, said.

Not long ago, businesses like Pastosa, which sells anything and everything Italian from ravioli to mozzarella, catered to local Italians in Bensonhurst. But as the demographics of the neighborhood have changed over the years, Pastosa’s owners have had to find new sources of income as well as appealing to a new wave of diverse Bensonhurst residents. According to data from the American Community Survey from 2012, Asians accounted for 38 percent of the population in Bensonhurst – now the largest ethnic block in the neighborhood, supplanting Italian immigrants.

This flagship store produces all the dough necessary to make the 25 to 30 different ravioli varieties and the 50 different kinds of pasta the company cooks up. Once the dough has been fully mixed, a worker will cut a handful of it and put it into the mouth of Italian-made machines bearing the names Toresani and Italpast. The machine also has another mouth where the cheese filling necessary for ravioli is added. The ricotta cheese filling is one of the few ingredients that aren’t made on site. But it still goes through a rigorous process to meet Pastosa’s requirements.

“It’s made by an expert, old world cheese making company that manufactures this product by our specifications on a daily basis,” Ajello said. He didn’t want to share the name of the cheese manufacturer.

Once the cheese and dough go into two separate mouths, the machine intertwines the two and out comes a tray of ravioli. Once it has been dried enough, workers then put it into boxes.


The Ravioli seen here comes out of an Italian-made machine.
Photo by: Eric Jankiewicz

A box of Ravioli’s final destination is a wild card. It can be kept in the flagship store, shipped off to one of the eight other locations or delivered to an independent buyer like DiCarlo, a food service distributor based in eastern Long Island. There was also a shipment being prepared that day for a restaurant in Hudson, Florida. That’s just one of several states the company regularly ships to.

Pastosa is quietly helping lead a borough trend that sees manufacturing revived, and turns the city’s largest borough into a global supplier of goods.

In a period where the rest of New York City – and much of the nation – has lost many manufacturing jobs, Brooklyn has actually added manufacturing jobs. According to the Center for an Urban Future, a NYC- based think-tank, manufacturing jobs in Brooklyn between 2010-2012 are up 0.2 percent. Which led them to ask, “Is Brooklyn in a new age of entrepreneurial manufacturing?” These numbers are often credited to Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, where entrepreneurs, according to the New York Times, are doing things like making “coffee tables with magnetized cubes, an artist was boxing up woodcuts that, when held to the ear, sounded like a forest.”

But in Southern Brooklyn Ajello is keeping it simple: make delicious food, and building on its artisanal legacy.


Once complete, the Ravioli will either be served in the flagship store or, like seen here, it will be prepared for shipment to somewhere in America.

Ajello’s grandfather first opened Pastosa in 1967 on East 53rd Street and Avenue N. They moved to the 7425 New Utrecht Avenue location soon after, in 1971. Since then, the business has grown to include nine locations and an online shop where businesses across the state can order Pastosa’s products.

From the front of the store, the place looks deceptively small. But Ajello allowed Bensonhurst Bean to take a look in the back, revealing a labyrinth of pasta machines with more than 30 workers producing enough Italian food – mainly pasta – to feed a small Italian army.  The effect is something like an old world version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

“We’ve got a little manufacturing center in the back and then the retail store in the front,” Ajello said.

But while it may now be an industrial hub, it’s also very much still a neighborhood store.

The day’s responsibilities kept Ajello constantly active, running to the back to monitor a shipment preparation and then scurrying back to answer a phone call. But throughout it all he would stop every few minutes to go to the front, where the tempo slows down and customers stroll through the aisles, looking for ingredients. There, Ajello would chat with customers and serve them smoked mozzarella – which is also made on-site – or ask them about their day.

This personal touch is part of the reason Ajello chose to make Pastosa a licensed company and not just a franchise that hands out the name of their company to anyone with enough money.

“This [retail] is where we started so I don’t mind stopping everything to help people in the front,” Ajello said.

The Great Fredini (Photo Via

The Great Fredini (Photo Via

Fred Kahl is known in Coney Island as The Great Fredini with his Scan-A-Rama, where he scans and creates prints of people as souvenirs. Now, he has also embarked on a project to create a 3D printout of Coney Island’s destroyed Luna Park, according to the Atlantic.

The Atlantic describes the process:

First he has to make sure the five 3D printers working out of his home studio are churning out the goods. “At any given time I have at least three machines printing,” he says. “I try to start prints every morning and every evening. It’s still a lot of work maintaining them, though; bearings need replacing, boards fry, extruders clog. I can’t even tell you how many hours I’ve put into this. It’s totally obsessive.”

Kahl makes models based on reference from a collection of historic Luna Park imagery that he has gathered. “In the old days I would find postcards at flea markets,” he says. “The advent of Ebay made collecting postcards easier. I have hundreds of cards and photos now, as well as images I’ve scrounged online from the Library of Congress, Pinterest, blogs, you name it.”

… “I basically build the park’s structures in software using photo references, and place a 3D scan of a human in the model for scale to get the proportions right,” he says. “When I’m done, I export parts, scale them and cut them into printable sized chunks that will later be glued and assembled. Its hard to reconstruct because the park changed every season, so I’m just shooting for an amalgam of what it was at its peak around 1914.”

The artist will be basing most of his prints on old postcards and depictions of the the park. He’s collected them on his Flickr. He’s also working miniatures of his Kickstarter donors into the panorama, and a portion of it will be on display at the Coney Island museum beginning in May.

Seth Low JHS will be the site of a rally against the proposed co-locations on Friday. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last Thursday that he will allow 36 public and charter schools to move into existing schools while giving the boot to other charter school co-location plans, prompting outrage from politicians and education advocates in Southern Brooklyn.

“I am very disappointed because the decision to co-locate Coney Island Prep with I.S. 281 does not square with the facts as we presented,” Councilman Vincent Gentile said in a press release that was cosigned by fellow councilmen David Greenfield and Mark Treyger. “I’ve said repeatedly that Cavallaro is already busting at the seams and there is no need for an elementary school in this area.”

Among the schools that de Blasio to see co-locations are Coney Island Prep (the charter school) with Cavallaro Intermediate School I.S. 281, and Success Academy Charter School with Seth Low Intermediate School I.S. 96.

The initiative to co-locate public schools with charter schools was created during the Bloomberg administration and according to the press release cosigned by the councilmen, many were hopeful that the co-locations would be reversed.

“Many of us who are part of the public school system were hopeful that with a new administration, we’d see a real, meaningful change that responded to the needs of the community. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case, as both I.S. 96 and I.S. 281 are still slated for charter co-locations in September 2014,” members of  Community Education Council District 20 said in a statement.

Besides the harsh words, the education council announced that they will be holding a rally this Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Seth Low I.S. 96 (99 Avenue P) in an attempt to pressure the de Blasio administration to reverse their decision. If the co-location goes through, critics argue,  schools that already have a large student body will be forced to take on more students from the charter schools, resulting in overpopulation.

“I am extremely disappointed in the decision to allow the co-location of a charter school at I.S. 96 (the Seth Low School) that our district does not need or want,” Greenfield writes in the press release. “This co-location will come at the expense of the school’s dedicated staff and hard-working students. . . This proposal does not take into account the students’ needs or the impact this will clearly have on this important school.”

Joining the ranks of critics is Assemblyman William Colton – his area covers parts of Gravesend and Bath Beach – who calls for Cavallaro Intermediate School I.S. 281 and Seth Low I.S. 96 to not co-locate with charter schools. In a press release, he said he is “extremely disappointed that Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Farina did not reverse the decisions” to co-locate the two schools in Southern Brooklyn.

For his part, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz  is commending Mayor de Blasio and Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina for withdrawing the co-location plan for John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X), one of the nine locations the de Blasio administration offered a reprieve. Critics of charter schools want every school’s co-location to be withdrawn.

“I intend to work with my colleagues to fight this decision tooth and nail,” Greenfield said in the press release.

Correction: The original version of this article mistakenly identified the charter school to be co-located with I.S 96 Seth Low. The correct name of the charter school is Success Academy Charter School, and the post has been amended. We regret any confusion this may have caused.



A firefighter was injured while trying to douse a fire in a business establishment in the early hours of Monday morning, according to News 12.

Officials say the fire started at around 3:30 a.m. at Kings Ready Mix, a one-story building on Dahill Road.

More than 100 firefighters responded and put the blaze under control quickly, but the cause is under investigation.

Kings Ready Mix is a buildings materials supplier at 455 Dahill Road.

Further information, like the firefighter’s name, is unavailable at this time.

Click to view enlarged image

Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard

Late in the 19th century, Congress approved the construction of a lighthouse on the western end of Coney Island. The now-defunct 124-year-old beacon has become the subject of a mini-documentary that aired last week on MetroFocus.

The documentary focuses on Frank Schubert, the last Coney Island lighthouse keeper- as well as the last civilian in the country to hold that job. In the article that accompanies the four-minute documentary,  creators Max Kutner and Johannes Musial write:

After serving with the Army in World War II, Schubert found work as a lighthouse keeper. In 1960 he moved with his wife and three children to the Coney Island Lighthouse. For three generations of Schuberts, the lighthouse became the family’s home. “My parents got married at the Coney Island Lighthouse, and then I was born the next year and they basically raised us there,” said Scott Schubert. “As a kid it was great. We’d be climbing on the lighthouse. It was like our jungle gym. You don’t even realize that it’s really different than any other house. It’s just sort of grandpa’s house.”

The use of GPS on boats has made lighthouses less necessary, but at one time such beacons helped prevent boats from crashing against rocky coastlines. The original Coney Island beacon was lit by Keeper Thomas Higgenbotham on August 1, 1890, according to United States Coast Guard. The lens used was powered by Kerosene and it was visible for more than fourteen miles.

Here’s the Metrofocus documentary:

Councilman David Greenfield (Source: Facebook)


As part of his ongoing effort to make the annual city budget funding process as transparent and open as possible, Councilman David G. Greenfield is again inviting all non-profit organizations to attend his fourth annual budget workshop. At this important session, non-profit groups that serve the people of the 44th District will learn about the city’s application process for applying for discretionary funding and have any questions answered. This mandatory meeting will ensure that each group has a fair and equal chance to submit their application to the city, and will help Councilman Greenfield learn more about the work the group performs on behalf of the residents of Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst. In order to apply for discretionary funding, non-profit organizations must send a representative to this meeting, which will be held this Tuesday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at Councilman Greenfield’s district office located at 4424 16th Avenue in Boro Park.

“I know that many of the outstanding non-profit groups serving my district count on this support from the city in order to continue their important work. One of my most important roles is fighting to secure funding for these organizations on behalf of the many local residents who rely on their services and programs. That’s why I remain committed to making this annual application process as fair and easy for everyone involved, and I urge all local organizations to attend Tuesday’s important information session,” said Councilman Greenfield.

The upcoming budget workshop will provide attendees with all of the tools and information needed to successfully complete the City Council’s online application for government funding. The short presentation will include a sample application to show exactly what information non-profits need to provide and will include a chance for representatives to ask questions about the funding and budget process. To be clear, attendance at this meeting does not guarantee that an organization will receive funding, but it will ensure that their application is considered and help Councilman Greenfield understand each group’s specific needs and goals.

When first running for office four years ago, Councilman Greenfield pledged to make the budget process as fair, easy and open as possible. To fulfill that promise, he has held his annual budget workshop each year since taking office in order to open up the process to the public. In addition, he is inviting all district residents to have a say in the city budget by taking part in the ongoing participatory budgeting initiative in the 44th District. Under participatory budgeting, residents have the opportunity to vote on specific capital projects they would like implemented in their neighborhood using $1 million in city funding that Councilman Greenfield has set aside for this initiative. Residents from around the district have brainstormed and suggested ideas over the past few months for how the money can best be spent to improve the community, and all residents ages 16 and older are invited to vote this spring on which ideas should be funded.

“I hope that all community organizations will take this opportunity to be considered for New York City discretionary funding and to discuss how this money would be used to improve the quality of life for local residents. While our city still faces difficult challenges and decisions in this year’s budget, I am committed to assisting as many groups as possible while also fulfilling my promise to bring this process out into the open,” added Councilman Greenfield.

Tuesday’s workshop will be held in the second floor ballroom directly across the hallway from Councilman Greenfield’s district office. To RSVP, please call (718) 853-2704 or e-mail

Source: dtanist/Flickr


No scheduled subway service adjustments at this time.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

Beginning at 8:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday, Manhattan-bound N trains run local from 59 St to Dekalb Av.

From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, there are no trains at N, Q and R stations in Manhattan. N trains run in Queens and Brooklyn only. N service operates in two sections:

  • Between Ditmars Blvd and Queensboro Plaza.
  • Between Coney Island and Court St.

Take the 7, D and the Q to complete your trip.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, there are no trains at N, Q and R stations in Manhattan. R service ends early in Manhattan and Queens.


From 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, F trains run local between Roosevelt Av and 71 Av in both directions.

The location of the fire. (Source: Google Maps)

The location of the fire. (Source: Google Maps)

A 38-year-old man died in an early morning fire on 73rd Street near 18th Avenue on Saturday.

Joseph Barbara was found inside his home unresponsive and unconscious by firefighters, who were summoned to 1759 73rd Street just after midnight for a second floor fire, reports ABC News.

Barbara was pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner will determine the cause of his death.

The fire department told NY1 that the fire was ignited by a lit cigarette.

The fire took approximately 60 minutes to extinguish.