Al Di La is one of my favorite restaurants: not just in Park Slope, but anywhere. As anyone who’s been there for dinner knows, they don’t take reservations and often the wait can be more than an hour long. So going to Al Di La is often a special occasion, a complicated affair that requires putting your name in, going somewhere else for a drink, waiting for your phone to ring (they call you) and journeying back. But now all that’s changed: Al Di La lovers can rejoice — one of New York’s best Italian restaurants is now open for lunch.
And oh what a lunch.
At night, Al Di La is a theatrical space with a large curtain hanging over the kitchen area and various props perched around the room (pasta makers, vintage kitchen tools.) By day, though, Al Di La takes on an entirely different vibe; it becomes a relaxing oasis with a European flair.
And, the best part? It’s almost entirely empty. I took my parents there for lunch on Thursday last week and we waltzed right in at 12:30, only a handful of tables full. We sat near a window, the light beat in, and it was just lovely.
And the food!
I’ve always loved the food at Al Di La — but dinners there can be really heavy with an antipasto, a pasta course, an entree (usually some kind of braised meat–notably their rabbit), and dessert. Not so with lunch: at lunch, you can order an antipasto, a pasta and dessert and be fine. In fact, they have a lunch special now for approximately $23 that gives you just that: an appetizer, an entree and dessert. It’s a great deal. (My dad ordered off that menu, the rest of us ordered a la carte.)
The food I ordered was wonderfully seasonal: I started with the dish you see at the top of this post–that’s roasted asparagus with a poached egg, pancetta and Parmesan. It floated in a sea of lemony butter and it was an excellent harbinger of a spring that took a very long time to come.
My entree was a knock-out–Spring Pea Ravioli:
Filled with spring peas and mascarpone cheese and served in a buttery sauce with sprigs of fresh mint, this is the dish you’ve been waiting for, shivering in your apartment, all winter long. It doesn’t get much springier than this.
Or does it? Check out this dessert: panna cotta with poached rhubarb.
Tangy and tart and a perfect foil for the creamy panna cotta, poached rhubarb was the perfect final note of this veritable spring feast.
If you love Spring and you love good Italian food, get thee to Al Di La. Go for lunch and you won’t be disappointed, you may even see me salivating at the window. I’m very eager to go back.
Al Di La (www.aldilatrattoria.com)
248 5th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Recent Meals (Al Di La & Market Table)