Antica Pesa was an incredible surprise for me in all the best ways. You walk down Berry Street in Williamsburg which is lined with adorable, casual 45 seat restaurants. Duck into the space labeled Antica Pesa and you are transported into elegance that rarely exists in the borough of Brooklyn, and is entirely unexpected in the area.
The original restaurant was opened in Rome in 1922. Everybody who is anybody has been there. Go ahead, google it. You’ll see pictures of George Clooney, Mick Jagger, J Lo, and Quentin Tarantino. The space is sexy and hip with dim lights and massive ceilings. The booths are lined with rich brown leather and there is a chic marble bar next to the fireplace. The vibe easily straddles comfortability and coolness. The owner is running around schmoozing customers and opening wine for his guests. The wait staff loves the restaurant and they are thrilled to tell you all the history of the space and the menu.
They don’t just do old school Italian food; they basically invented it. All of the dishes taste like your grandmother is in the kitchen cooking. Their antipasti is sprinkled with tons of Italian meats and cheeses, all very simply presented. The pastas are the star of the show. The Schiaffoni all'Amatriciana didn’t look like much, but the pasta is the most perfect al dente and the sauce is cooked for an astounding 6 hours. There isn’t a lot of fuss but there’s clearly a lot of love, which is what we all look for at the end of the day. Here’s what we had:
Crudo e Bufala Croccante - Prosciutto di Parma cured 20 months served with fresh Bufala mozzarella cheese in a filo crust