on Court Street is, in many ways, a throwback to another era. In business for "more than 80 years," according to window paint, Sam's serves unfussy Italian food from a below street level storefront, complete with checkered red and white tableclothes.
Every month, The Brownstone Republican Club meets in the back room at Sam's. The meetings are lively affairs. The group, which formed in 1994 and has 340 members (not all active) according to President Joe Nardiello, talks politics, listens to guest speakers and eats pizza while maintaining the importance of their party -- even in a place like Brooklyn where they are vastly outnumbered and hold few elected positions.
While not a throwback exactly, the Club's members are older residents. At a recent meeting only one person could be considered young. But Nardiello and others are hoping to change that.
Local District Leader Russell Gallo, the guest speaker at the March meeting, is also the President of a new Young Republicans group, based in Bensonhurst. According to Gallo, the young Republicans exist, they just need motivation and direction.
"People in their 30s and younger want to be involved," he said, adding that his group already has 50 members.
Gallo's group is new, but young Republicans in Brooklyn have been organized for some time. The Brooklyn Young Republican Club was founded in 1880.
In a city where Democrats have an overwhelming enrollment advantage, Gallo said his group can help Brooklyn Republicans broaden their base.
"New York City is a one party city," he said. "It's time to turn the tide through action. The first part is with local clubs like this."
Gallo was surprised the club even existed.
"I was shocked to see there was a Republican club on Court Street," he said. "You guys here got great numbers for a Republican club!"
Gallo said the goal of his young Republican club was to collect signatures and get Republicans on ballots all over Brooklyn.
"We're looking ahead," he said. "2010 was great, 2012 will be better."
Brooklyn Republicans, perhaps because they haven't got much to lose, are able, unlike many democrats, to speak their minds freely.
Some members were unhappy that President Obama was on vacation when he declared the offensive against Libya. Others nodded their heads and vocalized approval when Gallo asked why Obama hadn't shown anyone his birth certificate.
"This President has not shown that document, has not shown his college and medical records," said Gallo. "Hypocrisy," he added.
Also discussed: the Wisconsin union supporters.
"The Tea Party extreme and dangerous?" asked Gallo. "These protestors were extreme and dangerous."
The Working Families Party, a New York City-based, labor-backed progressive organization, wasn't spared either.
"The Working Families Party is pretty much a communist front group," said Gallo.
Buddy Scotto, a native of Carroll Gardens and a member of both Republican and Democratic clubs, said the Brownstone Republicans don't have to worry much about offending people.
"The Democratic Club, they're obviously interested in getting people elected," he said. "The Republicans, they know they're not going to get anyone elected."
But those in attendance were inspired by Gallo's enthusiasm. One member said she could get 20 signatures for Republican candidates on her block alone.
District Leader for the 52nd Assembly District Joe Messineo agreed, and said the organization must continue growing.