January 30, 7:00 P.M.
Members $85 , guests $110
Never mind those fancy Manhattan Italians, with their
year-long reservation lists and their haute price points.
Over the bridge in Brooklyn, theres something
amazing going on: in old-time Italian-American neighborhoods,
a quiet culinary revolution is taking place. The new
Italians dotting the borough are deliciously authentic.
Their young, hip energy, on the other hand, is pure
Take Locanda Vini & Olii,
Louy and Catherine de Zagon
Louys new place. Hes a native
of Milan, she grew up in Florence, and they met in the
dining room at Celestino Dragos
Celestino in Beverly Hills.
In New York, he ran the dining room at Torre
de Pisa and served as manager for Cipriani,
opening both Cipriani Wall Street
and the latest incarnation of The
Rainbow Room. She was general manager of
restaurants (the Mappamondo
trio; Orologio; In
Padella), then ran things at Mezzogiorno
and Balthazar. In 1997,
she went home to Italy and researched Tuscan cookery.
Then the couple turned a 103-year-old Clinton Hill drugstore
into a brand-new restaurant, and installed two Italian
chefs at the helm: Luigi Ghidetti,
a Rome-born veteran of Hotel Danieli
in Venice and a serious chef/restaurateur in the old
country; and Michele Baldacci,
the grandson and great-grandson of chefs and a graduate
of Tuscanys finest restaurants. Their food is
rigorously authentic and unlike almost anything on the
menu in Italian restaurants across the city. "Its
a thrill to find a restaurant like Locanda Vini &
Olii," Eric Asimov
wrote in The New York Times. "Passion rules
here." Agreed Tanya Wenman Steel
of Bon Appétit, this gorgeous eaterystill
boasting the original wooden apothecary drawers"has
the prescription for good food."
Then theres Anna Klinger
over at Al Di Là.
"I love the food at Al Di Là," Asimov
asserted: "It is soulful and gutsy, with simple
yet profound flavors." And The New Yorker
found that her risottolike the rest of her earthy,
satisfying menu"embodies the sublime simplicity
at the heart of the regions cuisine." An
alum of La Folie and Aqua
in San Francisco and Union Square
Cafe and Lespinasse
in New York, Klinger brings a sophisticated sensibility
to her cookery at this warm little Park Slope eatery,
where her husband, Italian culinarian Emiliano
Coppa, runs the show up front.
Peter Perrone launched
Brick Oven Gallery with
his wife, Jill Perrone,
and his brother Kenny in
a cozy little space just down_the street from the Williamsburg
home where he grew up. The gold script on the front
window reads, "Every Pizza Is a Work of Art,"
and New Yorks Underground Gourmet says
this is truth in advertising "thats evident
in every bite." The breads and pizzas are baked
in a 117-year-old phenomenon that gives the place its
aroma of authenticity and the first half of its name;
the "gallery" part refers to the work of local
artists, hung everywhere inside, and very much on sale
for those who want to take home a different sort of
taste of the neighborhood.
Nick Nikolopoulos, top
toque at Bay Ridge Bakery,
is an Italian only by neighborhood: hes the scion
of a bakery family, and his sweetly scented digs were
first opened by his parents, John
and Peggy Nikolopoulos,
some 30 years ago. They still own the place, but Nickwho
learned the secrets of perfect pastry from his dad long
before he received his French Culinary Institute degreeis
running the stoves these days, turning out the sort
of "outstanding" treats that earned him notice
in the Daily News and a clutch of other publications.
So for the purposes of geography and deliciousness,
weve named him an honorary Brooklyn Italian. Hell
share baking honors with that bastion of Brooklyn Italian
bread, Royal Crown Bakery.
A Beard House tour of buzzworthy Brooklyn? Now thats