My absolute favorite part of being the Food + Drink Editor for this wonderful blog is all the eatery recommendations I get. As I’ve stated before, I have this ridiculously long list of eateries that I’ve meticulously organized into a Google Map, color-coded by where I’ve been/haven’t been with notes on what dishes to get. This list is growing immensely long, and it’s actually been so daunting to just glance at it, that I’ve been putting off the task of crossing off more restaurants off of it, until recently.
One thing I’m really interested in is where the reasonably priced Italian restaurants are in the city – those kinds of places seem to be really hit-or-miss here, either tourist trap-y or nothing special. Additionally, with my wheat allergy, most Italian restaurants are out, but even pre-allergy, I couldn’t really justify paying close to $20 for pasta when even the most kitchen-retarded person I know can prepare a decent plate for $5.
I found out about al di là through Jean Grae, during an interview that was coincidentally at another Italian restaurant, and it’s been on my list ever since. Scouting out the menu beforehand like I normally do, my eyes pounced on the words “duck confit hash” like a hawk. I’m completely obsessed with anything duck, so when scouring through my restaurants list looking for a brunch spot, the duck confit hash sealed the deal.
We get to the restaurant on a Sunday morning at about 11:30 and the place had a couple empty tables, but after we were seated the place filled up quick to the point that there was a 45 minute wait before we had our meals, which is a good sign, because you can’t take a NYC restaurant that serves brunch seriously if there’s no wait. I can totally see why Jean’s into this place, it’s super cozy and cute and I get a similar vibe as being at Il Bagatto.
Points for freshly squeezed orange juice and a decent cappuccino. I couldn’t eat the bread, I have this thing where I can tell how it good it tastes by touching it and it felt warm and squishy (I know what you’re thinking but there’s no other way to say it, and also, yes, I’m the weird girl at the table poking the bread and not eating it).
So, I have a problem with having my heart set on a menu item and then getting there and it’s not being served, and of course, it’s the duck confit hash that’s absent from the menu. But! It’s replaced by pork belly hash… guys, pork belly hash! If they were going to replace duck confit with anything, they did it right. I’m not even 1% upset about it. It’s not the most photogenic dish, but roasted potatoes, brussels sprouts, pork belly, and poached eggs – we practically inhaled the plate and just ended up wanting more (even now, eight hours after the meal and even after I just ate dinner).
We wanted something we could both share and I wanted to try something Italian that I could eat, so we also went for the crispy polenta cake, topped with tomato sauce, spinach, two poached eggs, and two strips of bacon. It’s served piping hot, and the polenta is both crispy and creamy, and it’s really filling, and like, bacon, so yeah. I’m a big polenta fan too, and they did this perfectly.
In terms of service and all that jazz, everyone was attentive and friendly and the food came out in a decent amount of time considering it was the height of brunch. Would we go again? Yes, definitely, and we would order the exact same thing. I’d love to come here for dinner too and try something else – but for now, I’ll still be thinking about that pork belly hash.
al di là
248 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215