Al Di La
I had tried on several occasions to dine at Al Di La in Park Slope, but we were either too late or the wait too long. So one Sunday we decided to arrive just as the restaurant would be opening thinking surely we would snag a table. As we got there, just before five in the afternoon, a line had already started to form. An older couple looking for a Sunday meal, a young couple in shorts with baby in tow, and two stylish couples dressed to the max. And that's really what you can expect; a mix of people that represents the neighborhood this Italian trattoria, run by Emiliano Coppa and his wife Anna, serves.
As the door opened, we were welcomed by a friendly hostess. Her bright and cheerful smile immediately made us feel welcome in what is a comfortable, if not modest setting. Wine bottles line a shelf surrounded by exposed brick. The rest of the room is decorated with a simple floral pattern and a tin ceiling. The centerpiece is a somewhat tacky glass chandelier. Dinner is served on flea market china, while recycled doors are turned into sharing tables. What follows is a spectacular dining experience where the wine flows amid impeccable service and some of the best Italian food in the city.
We began with an arugula salad, neatly dressed in a balsamic dressing with generous portion of blue cheese and toasted baguette. A pasta special is served with fresh cockles and smothered in garlic, parlsey with specks of hot red pepper. Save some bread for dipping. You'll want to savor every bit of that garlic sauce. Steak "tagliata" arrives with strips of flank steak served perfectly rare with a comforting supply of mashed potatoes. And a baby chicken, which takes 20 minutes to prepare and is worth every minute, arrives moist with just a hint of lemon. We found ourselves picking every bit of meat off the bones. Lying beneath that delicious bird is a wonderful slaw made with sliced cabbage and dried black olives.
Leaving just a little room for dessert, the table shared three scoops of ice cream, some made with fresh berries; each served a bit of homemade brittle. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal. Indeed, Al Di La is the perfect place for a truly authentic Venetian meal, especially on a lazy Sunday afternoon with the sun shining through the windows. You might very well imagine being in Italy. We suggest you let yourself go.
Review By: Sam Sayegh