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a di la

Cathy Nov 16, 1998 10:30 PM

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.

  1. j
    joyce B May 3, 1999 10:01 AM

    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
      Cathy May 3, 1999 01:52 PM

      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.


    2. l
      Lisa R. Nov 20, 1998 10:47 PM

      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.
        Rudd Susanna Jan 17, 1999 09:33 AM

        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
          xavier pine Jan 21, 1999 10:47 AM

          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
            Erica Feb 12, 1999 02:45 PM

            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 Feb 13, 1999 10:57 AM

              <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

              1. re: Howard Isaacs
                jg Feb 13, 1999 01:24 PM


            2. re: xavier pine
              Jessica Feb 17, 1999 08:17 AM

              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.
            Dave Feldman Apr 30, 1999 01:41 AM

            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
              jg Apr 30, 1999 11:30 PM

              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 May 1, 1999 02:44 AM


                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
                  jg May 1, 1999 05:30 AM

                  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 May 2, 1999 02:05 AM

                    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
                      jg May 2, 1999 08:01 AM

                      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
                  Jim Leff May 2, 1999 02:20 AM

                  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.

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