[all photos by Conor Rose]

When the first real hint of spring arrives, we’re so ready to venture back out into the world and dive right back into exploring the city’s food and drink scene. On one of the first warm-ish springtime evenings of the year, we stretched our legs and headed over to Brooklyn to Evelina, an effortlessly elegant, airy space in Fort Greene filled with lush greenery and abundant sunshine – exactly the kind of place where, after a long day, you just want to wind down and enjoy a lovely cocktail (or two) and a great meal.

Executive Chef Lanfranco Paliotti (formerly of Daniel Boulud’s Daniel, Boulud Sud, and Heinz Beck’s Apsleys in London) directs the menu at Evelina and makes daily changes to its mostly Mediterranean and Italian influenced plates, incorporating seasonal ingredients throughout the dishes, and ensuring that everything stays fresh and light. Giuseppe, our host and also the restaurant’s managing partner, was eager to point out his favorite dishes on the menu, and we pounced on practically all of his recommendations.

The cocktail list, helmed by Simon Sabbah of London’s Chelsea Brasserie, is composed of drinks named after Shakesperian women, and like them, each one has its own sparkling personality. The Rosalind is a refreshing combination of London dry gin, cucumber water, and pressed lime, unexpectedly hitting savory notes with a thai basil infusion and sesame oil. We also tried a recommended cocktail recently introduced for the season – the photogenic Desdemona, composed of rye whiskey, Ancho Reyes, amaro montenegro, lemon, cinnamon, and topped with a slice of pressed grapefruit.

The Pinsa Romana e Ceci presented to us immediately grabbed our attention, and just as quickly grabbed our stomachs. The Roman style, soft, pizza-like flatbread was cut and served with creamy, light whipped ricotta, and was devoured in its entirety.

Giuseppe highly recommended anything grilled as a preference – Evelina is proud of its special grill, which uses cherry wood chips to infuse layers of flavor on anything thrown on it, so we knew we had to get at least one thing grilled. We started out on the lighter side with grilled asparagus, served with smoked burrata, bottarga, salsa verde.

For mains, we shared a plate of the most comforting creamy acquerello risotto, with porcini, wild mushroom, robiola, and marjoram, which the kitchen was kind to split into two separate bowls for us. At this point we were already stuffed, but since all recommendations had been a hit, we had to sneak one more in – we downed the tender Australian lamb chops dressed with sunchoke puree, grilled artichokes, and Cerignola olives.

Though the desserts looked lovely, we were too full from drinks and dinner to indulge – but don’t hesitate to invite us if you’re heading over here, we’ll be more than happy to join you for whatever vibrant dishes Evelina has up its sleeves for the day.

To visit Evelina, head to 211 Dekalb Avenue in Brooklyn. For more photos, click here. This meal was provided by Evelina – all opinions are our own.