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Al Di La... Overrated?

Al Di La is one of those that I constantly hear is amazing in thread after thread after thread. Bruni loved it, NY Mag loved it, etc. I have only been there twice but have yet to be amazed, and never thought it was even half as good as Franny's or even Get Fresh. I am hoping I just went on two off nights or that I ordered the wrong dishes (Once the risotto special with the squid, the other time the Pork Loin). Basically, I would like to be proved wrong. What dishes are the best to order there? What makes it so special to people? It's always mobbed and I have yet to find a good reason to wait.

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Al Di La
248 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Get Fresh
370 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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  1. Al Di La is one of my favorite restaurants. Reasonable prices and excellent food. The malfatti is fragrant and lovely. The oxtail and seppia is really a top notch dish with a rich flavor. Lasagna is a winner with the creamy bechamel. My favorite dish has been their shortrib special.

    Perhaps you went on an off night... it happens. And sometimes, wonderful restaurants fail to amaze an individual diner for whatever reason. I've been to DiFara's three times and it never moves me the way a great penang curry would.

    But I do not think that Al Di La suffers in comparison to Franny's. They are both excellent and I'd give the edge to Al Di La for better portions.

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    Al Di La
    248 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

    1. I've gone to Al Di La about 7 times. On each visit I keep expecting the magic to strike, that suddenly I'll have one of those marvelous meals I keep reading about. It never happens.

      Don't get me wrong - I like it fine but I think it's an above average neighborhood place.

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      Al Di La
      248 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bob Martinez

        I was similarly underwhelmed. If I'm going to Park Slope for a really good meal I go to Convivium Osterium.

        1. re: BMartin

          I've had a few of those magical meals at Al Di La, but I've also had a few simply "above average" meals. But no matter what, I've never found Al Di La to be better than the sorely missed Tempo was in its prime.

          I've been to Convivium three times and have always had a terrific meal. And when sitting in the wine cellar, well that just takes it over the edge.

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          Al Di La
          248 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

      2. I also haven't been wowed by Al Di La. I may have posted some reviews on the board at some time. We have tried for dinner and brunch. The location is great, it's a nice space and a pleasant, homey atmosphere, but I just don't get it. It is a nice spot for a meal if there is no wait, but the food isn't that special that I would wait around. I think I have gone in expecting too much based in all of the raves.

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        Al Di La
        248 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

        5 Replies
        1. re: Olive123

          Thanks for the feedback guys. Guess I am not alone in my sentiments. I will probably give it one more (possibly last) shot; maybe order the oxtail and seppia and the hanger steak-I think that is supposed to be good-before I officially call it quits. Also, have to agree about Convivium Osteria (a place I always forget for some reason!!). It really is one of the best in the slope.

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          Convivium Osteria
          68 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

          1. re: podd103

            I love it because I can walk home and I am crazy for the malfatti, the salads, the pear tart with chocolate, the affogato, and most of all the vegetable side dish of grilled chard stems (it's swimming in anchovy butter and some really stellar vinegar)

            1. re: podd103

              Here's the thing. As a number of us are saying, even though a lot of people overrate this place it's not bad at all. In fact, it's pretty good. The problem is that we keep going expecting miracles and instead we get above average meals at a fair price. As a result, we're a bit disappointed.

              Lately I've reset my expectations and I'm happier for it. I go 2 or 3 times a year, treat it as a dependable neighborhood place, and that works fine.

            2. re: Olive123

              al di blah, we often call it. not because it's bad, but because it just doesn't live up to the level of praise that it invariably receives. yes, it's nice inside, the menu is smart, the vibe is neighborhoody and sophisticated and self-conscious and earnest and shabby-chic and self-important and worldly and all other things park slopey. and park slopers invariably love to think of themselves as having a wonderful little place to eat nearby that is all their own and that flatters their sense of being uber-cosmospolitans and culinary aesthetes. but the bottom line is that it's good and not great. despite all the trappings and insistence to the contrary, it's just a good neighborhood place to eat that has somehow managed to pass itself off as one of nyc's best italian restaurants, which it definitely is not. and it's definitely not worth the long wait that it sometimes entails, what with their silly and pretentious no-reservation policy. perhaps not a great italian restaurant, but a perfect expression of park slope today. and a solid, if not spectacular place to eat, given that the only menu item that consistently wows is the malfatti.

              1. re: yussdov

                Apart from the length of the wait in relation to the performance, what's wrong with judging the place against your own standards--as a better than average nabe place, regardless of the (by now getting old) hype? After all, it may not live up to others' level of praise, but if it meets and maybe even occasionally exceeds your expectations, I think that's a small and decent gift. BTW, I've only had lunch there--an oddly amateurish house made sausage, swimming in oil, with a small salad. The menu does not pull us strongly enough from Manhattan, so I've managed to miss dinner.

            3. I wouldn't say it's the best in the area, but for the price, Al Di La is excellent. The last time I was there was for lunch, I had a seafood appetizer in tomato broth that was so simple but just delicious. The pasta dishes are all so reasonably priced, too. My main problem with it is the wait for a table for dinner - if they took reservations I'd go more often. I love Franny's too, and it's always easier to get a table there.

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              Al Di La
              248 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

              1. I haven't been there too many times, and I don't plan on returning because I agree with you and the overall tenor of posters like Bob Martinez, Olive123, and Yussdov (who really nails the place sociologically as well). I might be even more negative in my assessment in that, while I agree that the food is reasonably good but in no way mind-blowing, I actually think the prices are a little steep relative to what you get and how much they give you. But that's probably just because I'm a cheapskate and a pig.