"Al Di La" in Italian means "beyond." Al Di La Trattoria, a little corner restaurant located at 248 5th Avenue, in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, is one of New York City's top rated restaurants, offering Northern Italian cuisine from the Veneto region, beyond compare!
It's not unusual for Brooklyn residents to go over to Manhattan to dine in a wonderful restaurant, but it once was unusual to see Manhattanites taking cabs over the Brooklyn Bridge to dine, except for exceptional quality like Al Di La presents.
You can see by Al Di La's front window that they are deservedly proud of their well earned acclaim!
They are the first restaurant profiled, out of 31 Brooklyn restaurants, that put Brooklyn on the NYC culinary map, in the equally acclaimed The New Brooklyn Cookbook. Cookbook authors Melissa Vaughan and Brendan Vaughan credit Al Di La for being the pioneers of this wonderful new gourmet food scene movement to Brooklyn.
The restaurant is tiny, and they do not take reservations except for a limited amount of parties of 6 or over people. It is not unusual to see a line of hungry customer queuing up before opening hour -- us among them!
They now opened Al Di La Vino - an extension that offers fine wines in bar seating and an intimate dining room that can accommodate up to 20 more people for those that can not wait for the main dining room.
Owners Anna Klinger, a chef, and Emiliano Coppa, a native Venetian born food stylist who was working in Milan, met while she was travelling through Italy. When they moved to New York they were both working long hours separately. As a result Anna and Emiliano decided to open Al Di La in Brooklyn in 1998, so that they could could work together, and it became an instant hit! They did all the restaurant renovations themselves, and were delighted to uncover authentic antique floor tile and and a tin ceiling in the building. They decided to preserve their charm and leave them as is.
The beautiful Venetian glass chandelier in the dining area once belonged to Emiliano's grandmother.
The evening my husband and I dined I chose the Steamed Bouchat Mussels as my appetizer. The plump and succulent mussels were steamed in white wine, with tomato, parsley and chili and served over grilled Italian bread.
My husband chose the Trippa Ala Toscana as his appetizer. It was a delicious blend of tripe, stewed in white wine, soffritto and a few tomatoes. Tripe is one of my Italian husband's favorite comfort foods, and he was very pleased. You can see a recipe I posted previously for my vegetable tripe soup here.
For the main course, I chose the Braised Rabbit with Black Olives and Creamy Polenta. I saw this recipe as one of the ones profiled for Al Di La in The New Brooklyn Cookbook and wanted to try the Venetian version of rabbit, as I was more familiar with the Southern Italian way of preparing it -- see my blog post about that here.
My husband chose Calf Liver Alla Veneziana as his main course. The liver was lightly sauteed with onions in butter, and finished with a red wine glaze. Liver is not something I prepare very often at home, so this was a special treat for him!
We usually do not indulge in dessert when we dine out, but decided to treat ourselves this evening, and I ordered the Affogato al Cafe'. It was a decadent and generous combination of vanilla ice cream and crushed almond praline, drowned with hot decaffeinated Espresso. Pure heaven in every spoonful!
You can watch this charming short video about Al Di La above or at this link. It also shows a few of their specialties, all made with simple, pure ingredients, yet all tasting so superb.
This link also has two video you can watch, where cookbook author Michele Scicolone interviews Al Di La's Chef, Anna, and shows her preparing two recipes: Risotto Nero and Sarde in Saor.
The evening turned to night and we went home sated and happy!
If you are looking for a taste of Venice in New York City, or just a fabulous lunch or dinner, make sure to cross the bridge from Manhattan into Brooklyn and visit Al Di La!
I am linking up with the "Foodie Friday" event on Michael's blog Designs by Gollum. Please visit Michael's blog on Friday to see links to all this week's participating blogs and their wonderul array of recipes and food related blog posts!
I would also be so happy if you please visit this link to visit my review blog to see the shopping spree I went on for my bride-to-be daughter and for a chance to win a $100 HomeGoods gift card by leaving a comment there between June 20 and 30th, 2011! (click here for official rules)
Also, until June 30th, 2011, BlogHer is giving a chance to win one of ten $25 gift cards to HomeGoods on the BlogHer Prizes and Promotions Page that I know you'll want to enter, so you can have another chance to have your own mini HomeGoods shopping spree! Click here to enter! (Here are the official rules to enter