italian food

Archestratus Has Been Quietly Serving One of Greenpoint’s Best Lunches

Lunch at Archestratus   Image via Archestratus Instagram

Archestratus (160 Huron St) is definitely the spot in the neighborhood for picking up cookbooks (new and used), food magazines, cute stationary, and gourmet food stuffs. The store has been open for about a year-and-a-half now and has become one of the “the spots” in the neighborhood, most likely because the owner, Paige Lipari, hosts various community events every month. But Archestratus isn’t just good for kitchen things and crafts night, the back café is one of the best places to chill out with a book, or to stop by for lunch. Yes, lunch! Continue reading

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The Piadine Reigns Supreme at Williamsburg’s Lella Alimentari

Photo © Kevin Irby
Photo © Kevin Irby

“With this finger, I tasted the world.” Massimiliano Nanni raises his right pointer finger while recounting his childhood in Rimini, Italy, where his mother, Lella Alimentari’s namesake, ran a popular restaurant. “I would sit at the counter of the kitchen and I taste the papaya, I taste the kiwi—nobody have a kiwi in Italy, I come from a place with the truffle—I eat the frog, I eat the eel, I eat the snake. We want to try everything. This was my childhood.”

Massimiliano Nanni © Kevin Irby

Nanni, known to friends as Chicco, met his wife, Paola Cittero while working on an Italian aquatic TV show. He was a diving assistant, she was the production designer. This is a funny detail given the strong Life Aquatic vibe in the café they’ve created. Between Nanni’s normally red cap (today it is pink) and quirky demeanor, Cittero’s blue jumpsuit and the vintage toys and uneven hand stamped signage, I can practically hear Seau Jorge strumming Bowie tunes.

owners of Lella Alimentari
“We are old friends. Sometimes your best friend becomes your husband.” Photo © Kevin Irby

Nanni’s been in the restaurant biz since 1995 when he opened Piadina in the West Village. In the intervening years, he’s opened many other restaurants, including the popular wood-fired pizza superstar Saraghina in Bed-Stuy, which Cittero designed and which feels like a big brother to the more intimate Lella (325 Manhattan Avenue). Nanni left Saraghina in 2011 and opened a now-shuttered seafood restaurant before hopping over to Williamsburg. The location was intentional, just across the street from PS 132 where Nanni and Cittero’s children go to school. After school, the kids hang out among the locals, many of whom are on laptops. “We don’t like to say we are chefs,” says Cittero, “we just cook. We’re cooking. We are both food lovers. I’m a production designer, an artist, we consider this our cafeteria. We are making food we usually make at home, that we give out to our kids.”

artwork made by Lella's owners' son.
“We dream about writing a book one day with all the drawings from my little boy, we like the name ‘The Cook, the Wife, and the Red Hat.’” Photo © Kevin Irby

Lella’s specialty is the piadina, a sort of Italian quesadilla that’s popular in Nanni’s hometown. Every day he makes the piadina bread, then stuffs it with ingredients like roasted seasonal veggies and stracchino, a luscious unripened Italian cheese. Nothing is fussy, just fresh ingredients prepared beautifully; a poached egg over cauliflower, bacon, and chickpeas. Potato leek soup with speck. Burrata with roasted beets and carrots. They also have homemade pastries, quiche, and salads, most often topped with a poached egg.

Eggs are poached or soft boiled, never fried. Photo © Kevin Irby

Lella’s vibe is laid back cool and playful. It is European-feeling and whimsical without a hint of pretension. Toy trucks huddle near a vase of yellow tulips. A battered metal crock overflows with potatoes. The tin ceilings are whitewashed, walls are lined with Italian goods, books, an old scale. Art magazines and vintage action figures are scattered about. Lella is warm and chummy, just four sun-drenched booths and a communal table.

Photo © Kevin Irby

One of my favorite design elements is the handy takeaway window. “We sell the coffee by the window and we get all the people with dogs,” says Cittero. “Bike. Stroller. For me, it was like decoration, but we get the dog community.”

Photo © Kevin Irby

Nanni is already dreaming of his next venture: to host a program training former convicts as pizzaiolos. He’s eyeing a location in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. “The Pizzaiolo was teaching to the penitentiary in my town. These men, what they went through, most of the time it’s really traumatic. They need to be working, working, working. They will learn fast. It will help them.”

Photo © Kevin Irby

“Art, food and a lot of love,” Cittero says as she glances at Nanni who is in the kitchen dancing to The Human League. “We keep busy.” She smiles and looks out the window. “And just look at this beautiful light.”

A patron on her laptop in one of four sunny booths. Photo © Kevin Irby

Lella Alimentari | 325 Manhattan Avenue
718-599-1986
Open 8am to 7pm every day

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From Rags to Rigatoni: Savino’s Quality Pasta

Photo © Kevin Irby
Photo © Kevin Irby

No frills. Old school. Neighborhood staple. Hole in the wall. That’s how devotees of this remnant of the old Williamsburg refer to Savino’s Quality Pasta (111 Conselyea St). If you’ve been there you go back. Fresh pasta, super cheap.

You won’t find any reclaimed wood or floor to ceiling subway tile in Savino’s storefront, no Edison bulbs or communal tables. Just earnest, camera shy Cono Savino, his mom and dad: Josephine and Frank, a half dozen varieties of freshly made pasta and ravioli, a few cheeses, some homemade sauces, and an assortment of Italian pantry items.

Josephine Savino and a young ravioli enthusiast. Photo © Kevin Irby
Josephine Savino and a young ravioli enthusiast. Photo © Kevin Irby

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Inside Adelina’s: Street Art, Tapped Wine, and Vegan Cuisine

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Photo: @adelinas_wine

Toby Buggiani describes his 4-year-old wine bar and restaurant as “a tiny, quirky space” where he gets elbow-deep in pizza dough and fresh vegetables on the daily. It’s a quiet little nook in Greenpoint (159 Greenpoint Avenue) where the things he loves can thrive: inventive art, plant-based cuisine, natural wine, and an ethos rooted in simplicity.

Adelina’s is a fairly young restaurant, but its story began back in the 1980s between the street art scene in Greenwich village and a humble kitchen outside of Tuscany.

“Most of what we do here is rooted in my history and what I believe in. Art has a lot to do with that, actually,” Buggiani explains. “I was born in Italy, but we moved to New York City in the late 1970s for my father’s work as a painter, sculptor, and performance artist. I pretty much grew up in Greenwich village during the late 80s and early 90s surrounded by a lot of artists and musicians, friends of my parents and so on.” Continue reading

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Naked Dog is Now Serving Italian Brunch

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Last summer, Greenpointers could be seen peering into the windows of Naked Dog, trying to guess when it would open. The restaurant been serving up delicious pastas to the neighborhood for several months now, but they’ve just started serving brunch, and it’s definitely crave-worthy and a little different from your usual brunch.

Owner Cecilia Di Paola is a wonderful, welcoming host and the kind of person you want to sit at the bar and chat with. Pop in to say hello to our new(ish) neighbor and dine in the beautifully-decorated, light-filled space this weekend.

Photos of the new brunch selections after the jump. Continue reading

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Adelina’s and Mississippi Vegan are Bringing You Truffles Galore

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Adelina’s is putting on another pop-up Meatless event, this time collaborating with Mississippi Vegan‘s Timothy Pakron for a truffle-themed dinner. Greenpointers chatted with Adelina’s Toby Buggiani about the mycological meal that he and Timothy have planned. Who doesn’t want truffles on everything, especially Italian food?

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Status Update: Archestratus Books & Foods

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Archestratus, the food bookstore and cafe on Huron Street, has been open for a few months now. We last updated you upon its opening in October 2015, so we thought it was time to pop into the store for a chat with owner Paige Lipari, who has exciting new plans for Greenpoint.

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The Naked Dog: Romantic Italian Spot Brightens Up Java and West

NakedDog_Ears_525pxMany people have been anxiously awaiting the opening of The Naked Dog. There aren’t too many eateries on West Street, and this restaurant front has been teasing Greenpointers since the end of 2014. Many delays – permits, that sort of boring thing – prevented them from opening up until this past week. Continue reading

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New Year Small Plate Celebration at Adelina’s + Open Bar! Reserve Now

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Your last meal of 2014 should be delectable with lots of variety, plenty of libations to go around and Italian! Join Adelina’s this New Year’s Eve for a Small Plate Celebration. There will be two seating times at 7pm & 9pm for a 2 hour, 7 course small plate dinner extravaganza plus an open bar!

DJs Ronny-Moo & Tray-Z will be spinning great tunes all night! And don’t forget the midnight complementary prosecco toast!

Adelina’s regular a la cart menu will be available at the bar for walk ins.

Limited seating available so reserve now by calling 347-763-0152

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Just Taste It: Delicious Pizza from Ria Bella

Ria_Bella_Rosie_de_BelgeonneDo we really need another pizza place in Greenpoint? Well, probably not, but Ria Bella (1049 Manhattan Avenue) is pretty good and I am more than happy to add it to my rotation of options.

The pizzas are baked in a ceramic oven, with either a thin or traditional Sicilian crust. Some of the pizzas are pretty creative – one that they especially recommend is the Sfincione – a square pie that has tomato basil sauce, sautéed onions, anchovies, caciocavallo cheese, topped with roasted bread crumbs (Bread crumbs on pizza? Oh yes.), and extra virgin olive oil. Continue reading

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