I’d heard about the amazing al di là for years before I finally made it in. My husband, knowing how much I wanted to eat there, planned a romantic birthday dinner for me last year. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations so we decided to arrive at 7, thinking this earlier time would beat the NYC dinner crowd. Nope! The wait list was so long that they wouldn’t even take our name down.
Fast forward to this month when my husband and I decided to give it a second chance. Again we showed up early, this time at 6:30. The wait list was STILL two hours long! Luckily they take your cell phone number so you don’t have to wait in the restaurant and it’s located on 5th Ave. in Park Slope so you can easily find a bar and wait out the two hours with a tasty cocktail. Apparently they also have a small wine bar that’s part of the restaurant but we had no idea about this until we left.
The two hours went by faster than we expected and once again we were in the small and quaint dining room. They have 2, 4 and 6 tops and some community tables in the center of the room. We were sat at a community table with two people we didn’t know. I don’t mind this but be warned, it’s pretty tight quarters. We chose an Italian wine that was moderately priced. I can’t remember the name of the bottle but don’t despair, the waiters can suggest a bottle depending on what mood you’re in that night.
We perused the menu and my husband immediately went for the mussels, and I couldn’t resist the grilled sardine appetizer. The mussels were simple enough, steamed Bouchot mussels in a buttery white wine sauce, perfect for dipping with bread! The sardines were served in a simple grilled manner, whole fish, so if you’re not a fan of taking bones out of a fish, skip this. I like to work for my food so I gave it a go. For our main courses I went for the Casunziei, which is a red beet and ricotta ravioli. My husband went for the Tagliatelle Al Ragu. I can’t say enough about the Casunziei. It was just the right amount of ravioli in a light and savory butter sauce with a sprinkling of poppy seeds. Even my husband, who isn’t a big fan of beets, couldn’t stop asking for another nibble. I never realized the delicious potential of poppy seeds in anything besides a muffin or bagel, it was the perfect little bit of texture. The Tagliatelle Al Ragu was also a wonderful selection and although I was expecting it to be the run of the mill Ragu, it had such a complex flavor. I’m sure it was a mixture of beef and other meats. The portion was also healthy but not over the top, so you finished feeling full but not overly so.
We decided against dessert because we were meeting our friends for coffee and cake nearby but they change their desserts often enough to not include them on their menu. All in all I thought the servers was attentive and knowledgeable and the food was beyond satisfactory, we’re both looking forward to going back and trying the many other seasonal dishes they offer.