When in Park Slope, do as the Park Slopians do. Eat at al di là.
It's what my friend Ben suggested earlier this week, as an end cap to a long day of palate punishment on the wine trade tasting circuit. Following a quick beer at nearby Bierkraft, much needed to recharge the taste buds and attitude, it was just what the doctor ordered. Heed Ben's advice. I don't think you'll regret it
(Photo courtesy of Lauren Weinstein / joonbug.)
There's nothing terribly remarkable about the room, save perhaps the frightening aspect of the wild boar's head mounted above the kitchen entrance. Nothing terribly remarkable about the service, either; it's casual and efficient, befitting the space. What is remarkable is the quality of the food, and the satisfaction it brings.
From my primo of richly green, pillow-textured malfatti (swiss chard gnocchi) in a delicately browned sage-butter sauce; to a secondo of perfectly moist and tender braised rabbit (some of the best I've eaten), served over polenta with black olives; and even to our shared contorno of char-grilled escarole.... Everything I ate displayed a fine balance between rusticity and elegance, a great way to sum up the style at al di là (it means "beyond"), where a northern Italian focus is highlighted with dashes of southern flavor and technique.
I'm told that al di là has a very fair, gripe-free corkage program ($15 per/bottle) and there was a row of dead soldiers displayed on a shelf lining the main wall in testament to it — an empty bottle of Selosse's Substance among them. There's really no need to bring anything so exalted, though, at least not from the perspective of pairing and simple pleasure. The list at al di là may not be a geek's haven nor a trophy hunter's dream but it's peppered with plenty of solid choices, all of them priced quite fairly (especially from the perspective of this Philadelphian, who is all too used to 3x or higher markups). I'm not sure we could have come up with a better match to our meal than the 2009 Verduno Pelaverga from Commandatore G.B. Burlotto I selected from the list ($38), bright, fresh, floral and subtly peppery.
Every neighborhood should have such a place — a classic interpretation of the trattoria that makes one want to return again and again — but far too few do.
al di là trattoria
248 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215