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Nov 16, 1998 10:30 PM

a di la

  • c

Has anyone tried "a di la" yet? 5th Ave. @ Carroll (I think) in Brooklyn. Beet ravioli (amazing) and the best plum crisp of my life. Portions aren't huge, but it's truly wonderful.

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  1. I have a friend from the Emilgia-Romana region of Italy
    who says she has never had such great malfetti (chard
    and ricotta dumplings) or rabbit in the States as at Al
    di La.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Lisa R.

      We've been twice. There's now a wait if you
      show up 7-8:30. The place has a very high, steel (aka tin) ceiling and the rest is fixed up.

      For the time being, you can bring your own bottle (wine, that is), and there' no corking fee. Staff was
      very nice and knew the food
      (they were very nice about our teething infant). Service was speedy and well-timed (perhaps a little
      too speedy).

      Menu is classic Italian (northern, I guess). We've had
      garlic soup, fresh sardines, the steak, and the rabbit.
      We liked them all, although they rely on butter
      (especially in the polenta), and oil quite a lot. Terrific strong food. They have refreshingly resisted the temptation to get fussy. The desert
      menu is not so Italian. The poached pear
      was just the ticket.

      The bread was refilled without asking (I don't approve, although I appreciated it). The bus staff were attentive and pleasant (refilled water, and politely enthusiastic about removing plates.

      The crowd is typical Park Slope, with some imports.

      I recommend it, especially while you don't have to pay $20 for a lousy bottle of wine.

      1. re: Rudd Susanna

        Al di la, reviewed by Eric Asimov in wednesday's Times
        is an authentic rustic Northern Italian trattoria which
        focuses but does not limit itself to the regional
        cuisine of Veneto. Asimov's review correctly described
        the food as "soulful and gutsy" including richly
        braised rabbit with the best polenta i've ever
        tasted,(not at all too buttery),and wonderful steamed
        pork shoulder with wisps of horseradish that put the
        dish over the top. (for some reason , Asimov didn't get
        this)Also for desert try the latte bruciatto(translates
        as burnt milk)it is an Italian version of caramel
        custard served with a perfect little cornmeal cookie.
        I also tried for an appetizer grilled fresh sardines
        with a fennel vinaigrette which also tasted of orange
        and rosemary, great with the charred oily fish, on abed
        of arugala. They did not have this when I went back
        however, so I had the garlic soup which is rich, silky,
        and sublime accented with sage.nothing sucked and it's
        pretty cheap

        1. re: xavier pine

          Thank God for al di la. I don't know a better Italian
          restaurant in Brooklyn. Question: Does anybody have a
          recipe for the sublime latte brullata? I found one in
          Pelligrini Artusi, but was hoping for one that was a
          bit more current and specific. Thanks.

          1. re: Erica
            Howard Isaacs

            <Question: Does anybody have a recipe for the sublime
            latte brullata? I found one in Pelligrini Artusi, but
            was hoping for one that was a bit more current and
            specific. Thanks.\

            I don't know what translation of Artusi you are using,
            but the dish is really nothing more than creme caramel
            (latte alla portoghese or, less properly, flan, in
            Italian) made with extremely caramelized sugar (just
            about burned) mixed in. The recipe in Artusi (minus
            testing with a broom straw) is still made today. Home
            cooks in Italy these days are likely, however, to
            resort to a packaged mix for the custard.

            Howard M. Isaacs
            The Italian Traveler

          2. re: xavier pine

            I ate there last Friday night, and I give it a big old
            thumbs up. I, too, had the grilled sardines, and they
            were excellent, with lots of arugula supplied. I also
            had the braised rabbit with very creamy polenta. Yum
            yum. It was a generous portion, and very delicious.
            My friend's beet ravioli were beautiful and tasty. And
            they give you a big heaping bowl of oil-cured olives
            first. The service was extremely nice, too.

        2. re: Lisa R.

          Finally made it to Al Di La and have to agree with the
          consensus: the food is terrific. We not only had the
          rabbit and sardiness with arugula, that were
          recommended here, but a mussels appetizer (superb) and
          a lamb chop special, all extremely tasty. I've never
          been to Cocina or Aunt Suzie's, but somehow I'm happy
          I chose to try Al Di La first.

          1. re: Dave Feldman

            glad you enjoyed it cause I didn`t. Nice enough room, had a baccala app that was o.k friend had pros. app. 4 paper thin slices of pros. and a wide ribbon of some type of fried pastry. hardly appettizing just not enough. then 2 pastas friend had linguini and clamswhichwas good but half a portion for 14.00$ I had spaghetti botarga which for some reason was fried instead of just grated on top which killedthe taste. again 13.50 for thier idea of a full order. small portions of pasta for 14 16 18 $ make no sense to me, I dont need a huge portion but for a main course I shouldnt still feel hungry.

            1. re: jg
              Dave Feldman


              Are you sure we are talking about the same
              restaurant. The rabbit, for example, cost $13 and I
              believe there were no pastas priced above the low
              teens. The lamb chop special was understandably more
              expensive. The huge bucket of mussels cost under
              $10. The bill for three of us, with an entree and
              appetizer each, drinks but no dessert, was $30 apiece
              including tax and a more than 20% tip.

              1. re: Dave Feldman

                Al di la across from mike and tonys on 5 th and carroll or am I mistaken al di la and a di la ?

                1. re: jg
                  Dave Feldman

                  Alas, there seems to be no way to switch the name of a
                  subject, but we are talking about the same al di la.
                  They couldn't have LOWERED their prices, could they?

                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    Again it`s not the price of the macaroni it`s the size of the portion which is all too common in these new hip places.`ll pay but I dn`t want to leave dinner hungry.

              2. re: jg

                JG neglected to mention that he's in the Brooklyn restaurant biz. This may or may not have a bearing on his opinion. Since he's the bluntly honest type (as we've all seen), I'd guess it doesn't....but, still, it should be stated.

          2. Tried Al di la twice this month and both times, food and
            service were excellent. First time i asked a wine
            recommendation to the waiter and he advised us to try
            the cheapest red wine ($16)--which was excellent. I
            really appreciated that.

            Second time was last saturday. four of us went around
            7:45 and the place was packed. but the host-owner(?)
            said to come back later: A party of 6 had put their name
            down for 8:30 and he suspected they were not coming
            back. we came back at 8:30 and the host said with the
            sweetest italian accent: it's 8:33, they are late. you
            can sit down now.

            we had perfectly grilled plumped sardines + aragula
            salad, excellent malfatti drowned in brown butter,
            honest proscuitto and melon and a regular green salad.

            For entrees, we ordered the hanger steak (OK), the salt-
            baked fish (very impressive presentation at the table
            before they bring it back to the kitchen to be filleted
            (?), and a scrumptious pan-fried pork tenderloin with
            sage, plus another order of the now-famous malfatti.

            We also had 2 bottles of the cheap but good italian wine
            and the total was around $35 each with tip. Service was
            professional, the food was excellent and altogether it
            was a quite pleasant experience.

            1 Reply
            1. re: joyce B

              I agree that the pasta dishes are a bit expensive and
              the portions small, but the meat entrees are more
              generous. I assume the pasta portions are small because
              they're supposed to be another course, not your entree.

              Then again, I don't mind paying that kind of money for
              something like the wonderful beet ravioli.

              The plum crisp I had was absolutely incredible.