Fried Pizza: Adelina’s
When I walked into the new wine bar called Adelina’s on Greenpoint Ave for a tasting, two things caught my eye: the back corner of the bar was lined with wine barrels labeling each wine on tap with white chalk, and seated at the bar was a row of gorgeous faces, the staff, who was there for a tasting.
“Care to join us?” Toby Buggiani, Adelina’s owner asked.
“Are you asking me to drink before noon. Of course!”
Adelina’s passed the Greenpoint restaurant test of friendly servers without a doubt. Not a surprise since Toby is such a sweetheart.
I also chatted with Josh, a customer who said he liked the former Gypsy Bar, but Adelina’s is “perfect” because he lives up the block and “to get a vibe like this [he'd] have to go to Troost,” which also has a morning coffee routine and a wine and beer menu.
Looking around, there is a warm rustic feel, with lots of interesting textures. Toby’s father, Paulo Buggiani, a street artist in LES in the 80s, now living in Rome, created artworks on plaster that could easily be confused with contemporary Brooklyn artwork.
Paolo sounds like a true nut in the best way – the Italian way. When Toby was a kid he remembers that his father put him and his brother in armored suits and set the armor on fire. He also created sails for people wearing roller skates in Manhattan.
Not only did Toby’s Dad help him with the artwork, he helped him partly fund the restaurant with the sale of Keith Haring pieces he recovered from the subway.
On to the food. Toby described his cooking style as “simple and honest.” I agree. One thing I love about home cooked food is I can shovel it into my mouth portion after portion and not feel like crap, like when I double fist my Nonna’s rice balls.
Everything at Adelina’s is made in house, including the bread and the fresh mozzarella. I was there specifically to sample the rice balls, the pizza fritta (FRIED PIZZA!) and the espresso, of course.
The pizza fritta, a traditional dish of Naples, is leavened dough that is first fried then topped and baked. The dough itself had great flavor, a nice chewy but crispy texture and reminded me of the exterior of Chinese egg rolls. It is very different from the Neapolitan style pizza you get at Roberta’s or Paulie Gee’s. Did I mention that it’s fried?
Next I tried the Truffled Egg with Fontina and Asparagus. It is basically a toad in the hole topped with delicious cheese. Since egg and fontina are both mild in flavor the asparagus really shined. I’ll be back to enjoy this for brunch.
The ‘Fagioli al Ucelletto’ – Cannellini Beans with Sage and Tomato were nicely flavored although the fresh beans had too much bite, which often happens when you cook them in acids, like tomato; they just can’t absorb the water. I still managed to eat them all.
The dish that Toby raved about, the Porcini, Cremini, Parsley and Truffle Oil Bruschetta was good but not my favorite dish among all the winners. I wanted more truffle and mushroom flavor. When you make a menu of items inspired by home cooking it is a delicate balance between what you like and your customers’ tastes.
That being said Toby is feeling everything out and making adjustments according to the demands of his customers. As a vegetarian, he even includes meat items on the menu.
Last I tasted two pastas dishes, the Sud & the Nord. What I enjoy about Southern Italian Cuisine is the Middle Eastern influence. The flavor of fennel, the sweetness of the raisins and the surprising hint of cumin were all great in this dish. Next time I am ordering it with tuna.
The Nord was a good traditional pesto, Genovese style with potatoes and string beans. After I finished it Toby told me the pasta I ate was gluten free, made with corn and rice. Blasphemy! But it was actually really tasty, not as al dente as it could have been, but the pesto made up for it.
While I was really looking forward to arancini, which are Sicilian rice balls, Toby said he will likely add them later and may experiment with a Roman version called Suplee.
Last but not least, the espresso. “Short! Short! Short!” Emily the lovely barista made a delicious espresso with Brooklyn Roasting Company BQE coffee. The company is such a stickler about their roasts that they come in and consult the staff. Coffee culture is way out of control in Brooklyn, but according to the staff, who all have worked and lived in San Francisco, it’s even more insane out there.
Greenpoint needs Adelina’s, an easygoing and inexpensive traditional Italian spot that you can pop in for coffee and a cornetti (sweet Italian croissant) in the morning, hang out and enjoy a relaxing wholesome lunch, or enjoy a romantic wine filled evening.
159 Greenpoint Ave