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Catania Cafe on Atlantic Ave

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Has anyone been here to this little Sicilian cafe and bakery next to Sahadi's on Atlantic?

I stopped in yesterday and I was very surprised and excited with the offerings, although the selection is still quite small. I'd be interested to read anyone's reviews of the food, especially the sweets which i have yet to try, but look enticing. Even though I wasn't hungry, I couldn't resist getting 2 items--an anchovy and olive stuffed bread/pastry thing. It sort of looked like a fried calzone (please forgive me, I can't remember what it is called and I'm not terribly familiar with Sicilian food). It was really delicious. Salty, but not overpowering and with a greasy (in a good way), crunchy crust. I also ordered sardines which were stuffed with raisins and parsley (maybe nuts?), breaded and fried. These were spectacular. I'm still thinking about them and thankful that I still have half left in my fridge to have for dinner tonight. Anyway, I'd encourage others to try the place as it is definitely atypical for the neighborhood(s) and from my little sampling, it's also delicious.

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Catania
193 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

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  1. What are the prices like? Also, do you know what else was on the menu or was it just cases with prepared items?

    The fact they have sarde a beccafico is a really good sign.

    Any Catania football club related memorabilia hanging for me to crack jokes at?

    1 Reply
    1. re: JFores

      The prices are very reasonable for the amount of food you get. The sardines were filleted and then stuffed in between 2 fish--an order was 3 pieces or 6 large sardines for $8ish. The anchovy/olive stuffed bread was $3. Nothing on the menu was particularly expensive. As for other items, from what i can remember, there were two varieties of Sicilian slices, more types of stuffed bread/pastries, a cauliflower/tomato dish, beautiful looking arancini, and a salad bar of sorts with roasted veggies among other things. As for sweets, there were an assortment of cookies and an interesting looking brioche. They had a more extensive menu, I just don't remember it all. Most things seemed to be prepared within the case, but there was a note claiming that all items were made on the premises. Anyway, it was good and tasted very fresh.

      And, sorry to disappoint, but I don't think I recall any football paraphernalia!

    2. Interesting. This is the new iteration of a place not worth reviewing here, Reginella (my one visit there was to put down a slice that neither made me ill nor caused me to ever speak of it again). Their fairly quick closure and reinvention didn't particularly inspire interest but now I am curious.

        1. Do they have a place to sit, or is it take-out only?
          Want to try it for lunch on my bi-weekly sahadis-damascus-trader joe's run.

          1 Reply
          1. Just had the Siciliana, which is the anchovy, scallion, olive and pecorino-stuffed fry bread @bina mentions. The fry bread itself is quite similar to West Indian fry bread e.g. the "bake" half of "bake and shark." I'll be back to try more.

            1. Thanks for the heads-up on this place. I have been twice, once for breakfast and once for dinner (take-out). The food has all been really tasty and the offerings are interesting. It trends towards the bready/fried, but they have veggies and salads too -- I had a tasty caponata. Also very good spinach arancini; musroom and beef are also available. Baked goods look delicious. I resisted but did take some to a friend as a host gift. They also have very good coffee which even pleased my picky husband.

              Given what was in the space before and the relatively unassuming facade, I worry that people will underestimate it. The proprietors seem very nice and eager to make the place successful. I very much recommend it.

              1. Stopped in midweek for lunch on a very hot day. Had a cartocciata, a savory baked calzone filled with broccoli rabe; exquisite caponata; an excellent espresso. Folks were welcoming and attentive, and the tavola calda looks interesting--sarde a beccafico, sardines Sicilian style on offer, something I've not seen anywhere in NY. Fairly comfortable seating for a no linger meal.

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                Catania
                193 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                2 Replies
                1. re: bob96

                  Joe's of Ave U does sarde a beccafico, but I think their's are Palermitani style.

                  1. re: bob96

                    I believe that Joe's of Avenue U, an old school Sicilian place, has sarde a beccafico as well. Great place, and it gets plenty of raves on CH so I won't go too deep into detail

                    The more I read about Catania, the closer I'm coming to going out to Brooklyn just to try it. Sicilian food (especially when reasonably priced) is awesome

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                    Joe's of Avenue U
                    287 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11223

                  2. I've returned a few times for the sweets--the "brioche" is delicious. It's has an interesting texture and is filled with chocolate custard with a touch of brandy or something like that. Also the croissants are wonderful--I had one filled with vanilla custard. The coffee's good too. i hope this place sticks around. The owner is really personable and you can tell he's very proud of what he's offering.

                    1. DO NOT JUDGE THIS RESTAURANT BASED ON PREVIOUS ITALIAN RESTAURANTS IN ITS LOCATION!

                      That statement decidedly deserves the all cap treatment. I know I'm not alone in avoiding this place because of previous tenants, and I now regret every day that's passed since they've opened.

                      Just grabbed a quick veggie-leaning lunch and was blown away. Eggplant parmigiana was intensely good, my wife inhaled the eggplant caponatina (sp?), and I had to save some of the bastardi affogati because I didn't want to finish it all in one sitting. (It's a weird mash-up of cauliflower, sardines, olives, parmagiana, and something like fregola -- it's super salty, moderately fishy, and absolutely delicious.) We also got a broccoli rabe roll (bitter and delicious), as well as a farcita (covered mini pizza with baby spinach -- it was the weakest link solely because it was just very good, not great.)

                      I feel that the quality of cooking here places them among the best Italian restaurants in South Brooklyn. (For what it's worth, it ranks alongside Queen, Frankie's, Ferdinando's, and -- I know it's not the great, but I like it -- Vinny's. I still haven't been to Noodle Pudding.)

                      Baked goods and coffee looked great, too -- I'll be back weekly. (Perhaps daily, initially, to make up for my delayed absence.) Oh, and the staff was super friendly. (JFores, the man behind the counter was wearing a Calcio Catania hat.)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lambretta76

                        okay, i'll go. but only because you recognize the value of Vinny's. and you really gotta get to Noodle Pudding.

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                        Noodle Pudding
                        38 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                      2. Just stopped by for lunch. Awesome and authentic - classic Italian (like from the streets of Palermo). Arancini (I got the one with meat) was done perfectly. The rice had that tinge of pink/red color from the sauce. Meat and peas mixed in. Expertly fried, not greasy, very delicate. Also ordered the polpetto (meatball sandwich). The bread was superb, the sauce perfect and the meatballs not overly heavy. Was not as big a fan of the sicilian pizza, but that might just be my bias. As others mentioned, everything does look enticing - from the breakfast pastries (sicilian "doughnuts" and nutella filled croissant looked ridiculously good even after noon) to the sandwiches - that bread was memorable - to the lasagne, pasta, etc. A couple in the place had ordered pasta to stay and they seemed pleased. I know it is a very low hurdle, but this changes the Brooklyn Heights takeout/delivery scene measurably. This is a must visit, in my book.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: BillyBob

                          You're lucky you didn't get tempted by the pastries -- we did after a recent lunch and holy crap are they massive. The Nutella cornetto was warmed and filled with an overly-generous helping of Nutella. But it couldn't compare to the iris cioccolato, which had a solid 7 lbs. of super-rich chocolate filling in it, heated beautifully in the pizza oven. (It's offered room temperature or warm -- go for warm.) I mean, it was superb, but not a dessert -- more of a heavy breakfast. Or a chocolatey meal replacement. Very nice espresso service, too -- they use Miscela d'Oro.

                          1. re: lambretta76

                            I have walked by numerous times and had never thought to check out this place. Last night we went in when my boyfriend had a craving for something sweet and we happened to be walking by. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the baked goods and the authenticity of it. He had returned from a trip to Sicily just yesterday and he thought it was excellent. We had the rum baba, which was delicious and moist, and the diplomatico. I was surprised that the puff pastry was light and flaky and not soggy. The owner was very friendly and proud of the food and gave us an almond cookie and doughnut on the house. I can't wait to try some of the savory foods. I hope this place is successful.

                        2. Alright I finally made it to this place and I was really impressed.

                          Orders of caponata, sarde a becafico and caponata were all very good and the latter two dishes had strong Catania twists to them. The stuffed sardines were Catania style (sandwiched) and the filling included raisins, pinoli and a number of other things (probably an anchovy or two, bread crumbs, etc.) Excellent preparation, but 10 dollars for two sardines sandwiched together is a bit steep.

                          The pasta alla norma was very good. Simple, but extremely well done. I was actually very pleasantly surprised with the quality of their pasta because of how well things came together. The pasta was cooked perfectly, the marinara sauce that they used as their base was very good and the eggplant was perfectly cooked as well. It was covered covered in what I'm pretty sure was grated baked Sicilian ricotta which is absolutely impossible to find in NYC, but I forgot to ask the owner if this was the case (and where he gets it.)

                          The caponata was also very good, though a bit strange in that it included fried potatoes and peppers while lacking capers. The name of the dish pretty much comes from the capers so I was really unimpressed at their total invisibility in the dish (I honestly didn't notice a single one.) Still, decent caponata. The only dish of the three that's done much better at Joe's of Avenue U.

                          Get to this place. It's an awesome little store front that gives off vibes of a local Italian bar/restaurant that would serve a few dishes with pitchers of wine and cheap beer. Extremely Sicilian. Also BYOB with the Brooklyn Wine Exchange only about a block away.

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                          Joe's of Avenue U
                          287 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11223

                          Brooklyn Wine Exchange
                          138 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                          Catania
                          193 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                          1. Wow, we just went here yesterday (my husband for the third time). This place is really amazing, and I can't believe it opened up so close to us. There's a sign on the counter that says 'All Homemade' but I didn't really appreciate it until I talked to the guy behind the counter. They make basically *everything*. All of those amazing and intricate pastries, all the bread - they even preserve their own tuna. The guy was saying that they take a whole day and just make a giant batch of it, that it's a load of work, but so worth it for the taste. I have to agree. We had the tuna salad, and it was delicious. $9 for a really big salad with that awesome tuna, green beans, an egg, tomato and fresh scallion shavings. so good! We also had one of the savory pastries, the caponata and my husband had some pasta bolognese. I thought the pasta was good but not great (not as al dente as I like) but my husband had the almond creme pasta last time and said it was incredible.

                            We were just in Sicily in June, and it's so great to have this place open! Apparently, everyone working there is from Catania, and they all pitch in to make the various items made from scratch. Impressive and delicious.

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                            Catania
                            193 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: kazhound

                              ok, one more update. We went back tonight and I swear, it was even better. We had an arancino, the arrabbiata, the mozzarella salad and a side of meatballs. I was totally blown away. The arancino brought me back to sicily, and the meatballs were among the best I've ever had (and 1000x better than Brucie, which is the last place I got a side of meatballs). The pasta was perfectly done. The cheese in the salad was amazing. We ate there and everything just comes out as it's done. Totally informal eating but so so so good!

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                              Catania
                              193 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                              1. re: kazhound

                                i had one of those fried donuts with cheese and anchovies in them.. wow, it was really nice... i am looking forward to eating dinner there soon...

                                1. re: Daniel76

                                  I was surprised that though i enjoy everything, the best things they make are the desserts y the back cases.

                                  1. re: Daniel76

                                    I'm piling on. After my 8th visit - this is my 3rd post. Better than ever. We keep exploring different things on the menu and each has been terrific. This time for lunch, I had the Cippolina and my now standby, the Arancini with meat. Cippolina is a savory pastry with sweet onion, ham and olives. Delectable. But, I keep coming back to the Arancini - it is a remarkably delicate deep-fried item - so crisp, so light, perfect. THe rice was just a tad overcooked today and a little mushy, but that is a small complaint given the overall experience. The one thing we haven't tried is the dinner selection - but the falso maguro has my eye. This place is "oh my god good".

                                    1. re: BillyBob

                                      seriously - we keep going back too! today we tried the farcita. yum! just don't try to go when you're in a real rush.

                                      1. re: kazhound

                                        ok, last post I swear unless there's a downturn, but this week we went again and I think it was the best meal yet - the chicken salad was amazing. great dressing, perfectly cooked chicken. the eggplant parm was one of the best examples I've had of its kind, with those delicious caramelized bits and the meatballs were awesome. the only thing I've had there that I didn't love was a sandwich.

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                                        Catania
                                        193 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                            2. I like the place and my wife goes there regularly with friends during the day. Nice review piece on Catania by chow.com on NY 1 currently running. If you look at the smiling faces of the owners, you'll recognize an ex-manager from Savoia (and Blue Mare, for those of you that go back aways) & the original pizza maker from Enoteca on Court (next to Marco Polo). I dont know the third owner from any previous place, but he's the one that's been there when I've stopped in and he's friendly and loves to talk about the food. This might settle in to be one of the better new openings on Atlantic Ave.

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                              Savoia
                              277 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

                              Enoteca on Court
                              347 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

                              1. I just got back to Portland from Brooklyn, and I can't stop thinking about the pumpkin lasagne...it was the creamiest most delicious thing I had during my trip.

                                1. Just a note that Cafe Catania has seemed to have changed its hours. If I remember correctly, it doesn't open until 11 am on weekdays now (and are closed on Tuesday). In addition, it doesn't open until 9 am on weekends. Kind of sad news for those who treated it as a cafe as well as a restaurant.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lambretta76

                                    They are funny and you can tell it's pretty authentic in terms of it's Italian-ness. Initially the hours were either 8 am or 9 am on weekdays.. I don't know what they are now. But, after trying two or three times to go on a weekday, only to find the place was opening late, I gave up.. I would call the owner's cell.. He would answer very nonchalantly.. "Ciao, oh, yes, I am afraid I am running one or two hours late"

                                    One or TWO? Funny stuff. The food is great, we get the Baba rhum on the regular. We will eat at sottocasa and walk over for dessert.