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Anella in Greenpoint

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

Aug 14, 2010
calabaza in Outer Boroughs

Spur of the moment dinner at Convivio tonight

long overdue report from my dinner (just realized I forgot to post!). In a nutshell, my boyfriend and I both thought it was fabulous. Though in retrospect I kind of wish -- just to get the full experience -- that we had sat inside instead of in the little front patio. It was nice, don't get me wrong. But the lights were oddly glaring white, and it is situated in such a way as to not catch a single breeze (not good for a steamy night, which is what it was when we went). Anyway, I realize that is somewhat ancillary but since this is eat-outdoors weather, I would say it's a better outdoor spot for daytime dining there.

So pursuant to the multiple recommendations, my bf got the duck heart salad. And yes, it was pretty great. I even ate a bite (gingerly, yes, but I ate it). I think it had some kind of syrupy balsamic on it, and that was a good match. I ordered the crispy oysters (my first time eating a cooked oyster) and now I sort of wish I lived in New England. Because they were unbelievable. Fried, yes, but you could just tell they were super fresh because as you bit into them they kind of exploded with salty oyster-y juice. Yum. They came with a creamy kind of sauce that was obviously going to be addictive and it was.

For the second and main courses, I got two pastas. I can never get as excited about meat or fish. They had a special filled pasta with veal ragu and maybe a brown butter and sage sauce, and that was delicious. Though I think I liked the burrata agnolotti better, just because the tomato sauce was so perfect. I just wish there had been a little more sauce -- I got a couple of non saucy bites that were crying out for it. Bf had the carbonara and thought it "too cheesy" -- itself an oxymoron, but whatever -- I thought it was delicious. And unlike some other carbonaras I've had (Lupa, for ex), not an overwhelming flavor of the meat (pancetta in this one, guanciale in Lupa's I think). Plus the quality of the pasta itself is just so high. To each his own, I guess. He also got the duck sausage, which we both agreed was excellent. This was one of those dishes where you wonder if the accompaniments will be tasty, and then they're not only tasty, they really elevate the dish. It came with a lentil salad, a kind of tomatoey jam, and fresh parsley. If you like sausage, you will really love this dish. It does not taste like your garden variety poultry sausage -- it was as rich and fatty tasting as pork or lamb.

I now can't remember what we had for dessert. I think gelato. We were stuffed and drunk by that point, and though I am sure it was good (I remember liking it), it was emphatically not our reason for going there.

Thanks belatedly for all the suggestions -- they were very helpful. What a tasty meal.

Jun 26, 2009
calabaza in Manhattan

Patel Grocery in Sunset Park

I like this place too. Not too long ago I needed some fresh ginger, as the stuff I'd gotten just a week before at Fairway was already looking desiccated. I thought they might have some and I must say it was by FAR the freshest ginger root I have ever had. So spicy and juicy that it practically chopped itself -- which is saying a lot for a ginger root. The array of spice mixtures and other hard-to-find ingredients is, I think, especially good for the cook who is comfortable doing stuff like sauteeing chicken parts, but maybe not necessarily toasting and blending their own spices for a curry.

Jun 26, 2009
calabaza in Outer Boroughs

Spur of the moment dinner at Convivio tonight

MMRuth, I'm not sure if I remember reading your posts specifically referring to what you ate -- and you are quite a prolific poster so I quickly got daunted as I tried to do a search! But that's excellent advice about the duck hearts, and the offal generally -- though it means I'll be taking some squeamish bites at dinner tonight :) AAAHHHHH duck hearts.......

demigodh, thanks for those tips, especially on the chicken liver since that is something my man often orders. Good to know.

May 22, 2009
calabaza in Manhattan

Spur of the moment dinner at Convivio tonight

Memorial Day weekend is great because you can decide at 2 pm on a Friday afternoon to go to a fancy restaurant and they will accommodate your non-planning self. I made a reservation for two of us tonight, and we will be sitting on their patio. I realize there have been numerous posts about Convivio, but a number of them are fairly cursory or deal with unusual service issues -- which is less relevant to me than specific info about the food.

So: those of you who have eaten at Convivio and not posted a review or in-depth observation, what are your thoughts and recommendations? Is the 4-course prix fixe an obscene amount of food? Are any of the sfizi so delicious that it's worth it to order them, even atop the 4-course meal? I find Italian desserts to be frequently hit-or-miss; are there desserts (or types of dessert, such as the crostata or the gelati) that Convivio consistently does well? Would I regret asking to have two primi (pasta) courses, instead of the typical primi and secondi? And -- any real standout dishes that "somebody at the table has to order" (you know how there are those dishes)?

I am less adventurous, meat/fish-wise, than my boyfriend -- he will eat offal, etc. I will eat one bite, gingerly. Aside from that, no limits on recommendations. And yes -- I have read most of the Convivio posts already, so I am more interested in what hasn't been said yet. Thanks a lot --

May 22, 2009
calabaza in Manhattan

Grand Sichuan in Bay Ridge is ALL THAT

this may be sacrilege to some, but here is one plus of the dan dan noodles: if you are the type of person to mix up all your food in a bowl, rather than delicately maintaining the integrity of each dish, the dan dan noodles really bind everything together nicely. i know this is strange, but last night, as i ate some of the duck w/ spring ginger with some dumplings and rice, i found that the noodles with their spicy oil kind of made it all a little more delicious when added to the mix. just a thought, if you should find yourself with unwanted dan dan noodles.

i really love GSH. it had been a couple of months since we'd last been there and the woman in the front was like "where've you been??" such an all-around good place; our landlords sent us there last year and we've been grateful (and fatter) ever since.

Mar 15, 2009
calabaza in Outer Boroughs

Real Sichuan food in Bay Ridge

i just want to add my two cents to this thread, because i think this place really deserves props. thanks everyone for all the great descriptions of different dishes -- now i know what i'll be trying next time. just a shout-out for some not-super-adventurous picks, for any of you rolling with anxious eaters: their pork lo mein is, hands down, one of the tastiest versions i have ever had -- long threads of flavorful red-cooked pork, chunks of scallion, and a perfect amount of saucing and grease. the wontons in red oil are ridiculously addictive; even my boyfriend, who claims not to like chili oil, would not allow the waitress to take away the bowl long after the wontons were gone. we poured it over rice and it was delicious. also, the dry sauteed string beans with minced pork are really just perfect, especially if you are trying to fool a non vegetable eater into eating vegetables -- the minced pork is salty, saucy, and laced with little scallion bits in a very favorable bean-to-meat ratio. even the standard fried pork dumplings are several cuts above the rest -- the filling is fresh, and whoever mans the fryer in that kitchen is doing something really right, because the brown sides of the dumplings were almost shatteringly crispy. i could have eaten all 8 myself, and then some.

one other thing that really bears repeating is the friendliness of the people who work here. i have come in here at closing time, starving, and they won't turn me away. they are always good with suggestions, and very attentive to spiciness tolerance of different diners. overall, this is a really great spot and i'm so glad they are getting steady business.

Sep 16, 2008
calabaza in Outer Boroughs

Sunset Park Recommendations?

I made the same move and haven't looked back. Not sure what part of SP you're moving to, though -- and that is relevant, especially with respect to avenues, because living down close to 4th, you will not likely be making a quick stop at any of the 8th Ave establishments, or vice versa. Just a couple of suggestions:

On 4th around 43rd St. or so, there is a great Mexican restaurant called Eclipse, which (unusual for the neighborhood) has an extensive vegetarian menu, in addition to a very large regular menu. I have eaten there a few times, and never been disappointed; plus, it is nice to sit in for a low-key evening dinner out in the neighborhood (they also deliver, though, which is great). The rice and beans are delicious, the guacamole is very fresh and cilantro-y, and the chips seem to be fried in-house. My boyfriend hates beans (I know, ridiculous) and he loves their BBQ chicken burrito. They have a nice mix of small snacks (sopes, huaraches, etc) and larger plates, and it is definitely not the cheese-laden ridiculousness served up at a lot of NYC Mexican places. Think De Mole in Sunnyside, by means of comparison, but a larger menu.

I really enjoy Johnny's Pizza, up on 5th Ave btwn 58th and 59th -- just ordered in a grandma pie and a pepperoni pie this wknd, and they were both solid neighborhood pizzas. Also, it's good to support this long-established local business in light of the Papa John's that opened right NEXT DOOR not too long ago :(

Many of the Mexican bakeries have good coffee; nothing fancy or Starbucks-ish, just nice, freshly brewed strong coffee.

I haven't trekked up the hill to 8th Ave all that often, but I spent a Saturday afternoon assembling ingredients for a dinner party, and was pleased with the produce and fish offerings at various groceries up and down 8th. I was mostly between 54th and 60th Streets, more or less, and there are numerous stores there; I can't remember the names, but there were quite a few.

Outside the church on 4th Ave and 53rd St, people sometimes set up a table selling various Mexican snacks. Passing by in the evening, you can just see what they have (it varies) and it's usually pretty tasty -- I've had fried chicken tacos, sopes, and tamales. Their sauces are always good, so I always order whatever I'm eating "con todo". They will cover up a plate of food with tin foil if you want to take it home with you.

Welcome to the neighborhood and don't worry, you probably won't miss all those kinda-expensive, kinda-not-that-good Park Slope restaurants....

Feb 18, 2008
calabaza in Outer Boroughs

Five Points

What is the dinnertime noise level at Five Points? Is the outdoor seating facing the sidewalk or is it a patio?

May 31, 2007
calabaza in Manhattan