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Ferdinando's in Carroll Gardens - review

bigjeff Mar 25, 2007 09:00 AM

apparently still delicious after all these years (since 1904) I made it there for lunch on Saturday (they're closed on Sundays) for a really great meal. we stuck with many of the recs I found on this board, and also kept it simple with the snack-type stuff, and no entrees or pastas:

frutti di mare (very nice seafood salad with octopus and squid)
vastedda (spleen sandwich on a roll with ricotta)
panelle special (flat chickpea patties on a roll with ricotta)
arancina special (riceball topped with sauce and cheese)

the restaurant itself is beautiful; just a wonderful decor that seemed well-preserved, classy and not what I expected at all from the outer experience. I was almost expecting something airy and bright like a cafe, but it actually felt like a nice compact restaurant. it was saturday for lunch so it was packed with families and other large groups, and really pleasant.

the seafood salad was nice; very simply dressed, great texture and done-ness on each piece; I'd recommend just getting the octopus, or polpo, next time since the some of the squid might've been on the tough side. the vinaigrette went very well with the small crusty breads we were served.

the panelle special was not what I was expecting at all, and the vastedda for that matter, in terms of the sheer amount of ricotta on the sandwich; just a beautiful light fluffy layer. both sandwiches were undersalted and the spleen was great; tasted boiled, and then sliced, and actually quite earthy and organ-y. I almost preferred it over the panelle sandwich just because it was a bit more assertive; the panelle sandwich was great, but all the flavors were a bit too light and definitely starchy, but not in a way that really provided any contrast between the three ingredients; I might've enjoyed the panelles on their own, lovely flat pancakes and very much smooth, as opposed to chunky like a fritter. every table seemed to have an order of croquettes on the table; that might be another choice for next time. the rice ball was out of control; a large beautiful ball of rice topped with a thin tomato sauce and mozz; it seemed almost excessive but for our group of 3, there was more than enough to go around, especially with everything else we had. nice flavor, very light and airy, nice crust, just a phenomenal experience for an arancina.

anyway, the meal was incredibly inexpensive and I highly recommend going there. the service was great and we had a very relaxed meal without feeling rushed. I haven't ventured to any of the entrees but there are almost seems to be a consensus of just sticking with these snack-y type things; probably anything fried means you're getting something fresh since the antipasti and pre-prepared food at the front of the restaurant didn't really look too wonderful, esp. the limp eggplant slices sitting in water. but if anyone can recommend any primi or secondi, I just might give it a go.

Ferdinando's hours are Monday to Thursday, 11-7 and Friday and Saturday, 11-10.

  1. f
    frankbooth Mar 25, 2007 08:29 PM

    Ferdinando's is a gem. the panele special needs a bit of sauce- ask for a cup of marinara, they will gladly oblige. dip. enjoy. the broccoli rabe is always great, spicy and fresh. love ferdinando's- now have you tried the deep fried calzone across the street at House of Pizza and Calzone- a serious greasebomb, but delicious. enjoy frankbooth

    4 Replies
    1. re: frankbooth
      bigjeff Mar 25, 2007 08:31 PM

      was gonna get the broccoli rabe and sausage one, actually; but not the same day as ferdinando's! as for sauce, we definitely dipped said panelle special in arancina special's pool, definitely made a difference.

      1. re: bigjeff
        j
        j.ey2 Mar 26, 2007 04:43 AM

        My husband and I discovered Joe's about a year ago. Their seafood pasta is so awesome, my husband has dedicated himself to replicating it at home. He has interrogated the waitresses, brought Italian friends there, etc. He is close, but not there yet, so we keep going to Joe's. I also recommend their pasta con sarde. I haven't seen it on any other menus, and it it also amazing (I especially love the bread crumb topping they put on the table). Would love to know any other dishes people have had there?

        1. re: j.ey2
          bigjeff Mar 26, 2007 07:55 AM

          apparently ferdinando's also serves the pasta con sarde but seems to get panned.

          1. re: bigjeff
            whs Jun 10, 2007 06:16 PM

            Had the pasta con sarde and the linguine with white clam sauce --whole clams in their shells--about 2 weeks ago at Ferdinando's. Both were excellent.

    2. l
      Larry Brooks Mar 25, 2007 03:00 PM

      So where do you park the dogs when you do all this eating?

      ; )

      1 Reply
      1. re: Larry Brooks
        bigjeff Mar 25, 2007 08:23 PM

        the best chowing when dog-walking of course is stuff that I can take out and eat right there and then, and thankfully the little monster (long-haired chihuahua actually) isn't at all a problem. so I've been able to get takeout or carryout for everything but of course, for ferdinando's, I had to leave her home. but, she really enjoyed the walk to fairway!

      2. Steve R Mar 25, 2007 02:41 PM

        Good review. I pretty much agree with your assessment on everything. Next adventure: Joes of Ave U (just off McDonald Ave, the F train goes right there). Also closed Sunday. Compare.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve R
          m
          Mike R. Mar 25, 2007 09:17 PM

          Don't leave Joe's of Avenue U without a "potato special", three healthy-sized croquettes on the roll with ricotta and grated cheese toppings...and incredibly fresh pulpo salad.

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