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Feb 18, 2010 09:18 AM

Anella in Greenpoint

Last night, some friends and I went to Anella for dinner and had a delicious meal. Hiring a new chef has really made a difference for this place. My friends and I had been there previously, and found the menu to be unfocused, and the food inconsistent, bordering on dangerous (one woman had been served very undercooked chicken in one of her visits). I am happy to say that every dish we ordered last night was tasty and well prepared.

For appetizers we shared roasted carrots with whipped ricotta and an order of mussels. The carrots were tender and sweet, and the house-made ricotta was so light and fluffy that it resembled a slightly creme fraiche. The mussels were served in a dutch oven and were so plump that my friend from Portland, MN commented that they were like "Maine mussels." The white wine and butter sauce they were steamed in was delicious, perfect for sopping up with Anella's house-made, but the briny flavor of the mussels was so good on its own that the sauce was almost superfluous.

For mains I ordered a special of short rib ravioli served with hen of the woods mushrooms and scallions. The pasta was chewy, and filled with savory meat that was almost creamy in its tenderness. The mushrooms were lightly crisped and matched well with the aromatic scallions and a light sauce. One friend ordered the house made pappardelle with pork ragu and bitter greens. She seemed to love the dish, and the bite that I tried was great. The sauce was rich and nicely offset by the bitter greens, but was used sparingly so that the dish was not as heavy as some pappardelles can be. Another friend ordered the short ribs and was similarly pleased. The meat was plentiful (a large chunk of boneless rib) and perfectly prepared to be very tender without being mushy. It was surrounded by braised red cabbage and pieces of blood orange or tangerine and tiny round potatoes.

Dessert was the only dish that we were slightly disappointed in. We split a chocolate bread pudding with buttermilk ice cream and toasted hazlenuts. The ice cream was deliciously semi-sweet and the nuts were perfectly browned and crunchy, but the pudding, while tasty enough, has a slightly spongy texture.

The service was good throughout. If our waiter was slightly oversolicitous it was probably because the place was sadly undercrowded. The only complaint we really had was with the music, some cheesy easy listening stuff. All in all, we were very pleased to see that the rumors of Anella's improvement are definitely worth listening to. I hope more food-minded folk check it out. It would be a shame to see such noble efforts go to waste.

222 Franklin St, Brooklyn, NY 11222

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  1. Glad to hear that they are back on track. I liked it before and will give it a new try with the new chef. I was waiting to hear something.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sushiman

      I was curious about this place. I live on Green Street between Franklin and Manhattan, so it is basically a 30 second walk for me.
      I will try it.

      Thank you

    2. I agree -- the new chef has really turned this place around. The first time we went, we were quite underwhelmed, but we returned last night and were very pleased. My husband and I split two vegetables and 1 entree. We started with the sweet pea crostini, which was a mountain of fresh peas atop fresh, creamy ricotta on toasted bread. Very rich, very flavorful. Next came the watermelon salad, which was cubes of watermelon and feta with mint and lemon. A lovely flavor combination. The entree was bucatini with razor clams in a spicy red pepper and cream sauce. This was wonderful; the cream wasn't overwhelming, it was delightfully spicy and the clams gave the sauce a lot of flavor.

      My main gripe was that everything was a wee expensive. There was only one glass of one wine under $10, with the majority being $11 or $12. The vegetables we had were $9 each, and the watermelon salad had about 9 cubes of watermelon, so it looked a bit precious and cost a lot.

      Like sweetpickles' experience, the service was excellent, but it was about half empty on a Saturday night. I hope it can stick around as it is leaps better than Queen's Hideaway.

      1. Four of us went for dinner last night (a Friday) and thought this was a really, really great restaurant. The bartender was very solicitous, as were the hostess and servers, and the space is very pretty (we sat in the garden, which was more comfortable than your average outdoor seating in Brooklyn).

        The food was great (and though we didn't go specifically for the cocktails, they were very good as well). First of all, the bread -- it is ridiculously good. It's baked in these terracotta flowerpots, and served warm in the pot, with a nice sprinkling of salt and a crackly crust, and a nice soft inside. We needed a second pot of bread halfway through because it was that good. Two of us had a chilled corn soup with a creamy crab salad and slow-cooked tomato on the side (I thought the idea was to mix it into the soup, but neither of the people who ordered it decided to mix it, thinking it was much better as a salty foil to the smooth, sweet soup). My boyfriend pronounced it one of the best things he'd ever ate -- I think the combination of an incredibly smooth texture and light, sweet flavor elevated it above many other corn soups. He wondered aloud if there was ice cream in the soup; it was that smooth and rich. I had a snap pea, lemon and pecorino salad that was extremely generous -- easily could have fed two, had I not been such a glutton. The salad was thinly sliced almost-raw peas, showered with strands of dill, drops of lemon, grated pecorino and black pepper. It was one of those vegetable dishes that's frustrating for a home cook, because you feel like your own salads never taste that good. My boyfriend, an avid vegetable-hater, had to concede it was very tasty. The last appetizer we had was a cherry crostini with a soft white cheese, honey and hazelnuts -- kind of a sweet dish for an appetizer but not off-putting. Plus the combination worked (I could imagine having it at brunch with some coffee and being very happy).

        For entrees, two of us had the ribeye with smoked eggplant and olives. It came as large chunks of grilled meat strewn around the plate with thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, olives and tiny grilled eggplants. Underneath it was a very smooth, very smoky eggplant puree that was nice to drag bites of meat through. I liked this dish because it was different from lots of other typical steak entrees, which I think can sometimes be kind of heavy in the summer, what with mushroom sauces and potato galettes, etc etc. One of my friends got the homemade fettucine with roasted corn and tomatoes, and a gorgonzola cream sauce. In some ways it was like a twist on alfredo sauce, but in the best way possible. It was not overwhelmingly gorgonzola-y -- I hate gorgonzola but I ate quite a few bites. The roasted corn had a lot of texture, and the tomatoes kind of broke up the creaminess with their acid, which made it seem *marginally less decadent. My boyfriend got the bucatini with clams, garlic and chili, and said he would have gladly eaten another plate of it. It was clam-y, and the sauce seemed to have a little cream in it, but not an enormous amount -- more like to bind everything together. The whole parsley leaves were good, even though I wouldn't ordinarily cite that as a plus in a dish. They almost functioned as a leafy green.

        For dessert we shared a banana lime tart (which I didn't taste but seemed to disappear in about 5 minutes) and a white chocolate custard with strawberries and little cubes of sweet fried brioche. I was a fan of this dish because I love anything resembling french toast (i.e. the brioche cubes) and anything akin to creme brulee (the custard). My boyfriend said he was "disappointed in the desserts" but I think he just wanted something chocolate, and among the many tasty-sounding choices, none involved chocolate. My cappucino was also very good.

        Among all of us, dinner came to about $120 per couple, including drinks and tip. We lingered and nobody bothered us. The music was pretty good for most of the night (combination of indie rock, Buena Vista Social Club-type stuff, and maybe some jazz too) and not super loud. Overall we all thought this was one of the best places we'd been to in a while.

        222 Franklin St, Brooklyn, NY 11222

        1. Been twice recently and it is great. I am not sure why this place is so under the radar, but the new chef is really good. My last meal was an exceptional butternut squash soup with the crab toast and the chicken which was done perfectly. Getting a chicken breast to be that juicy is a real talent.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sushiman

            is it still cash only?
            this might be why it hasnt taken off more...