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on cheating.

4 Apr 2012

Bar Corvo, just north of the Brooklyn Museum in that fuzzy area between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, was recently opened by the folks from Al Di La, which is one of those Brooklyn institutions that everyone knows about in some vague way even though not many people have had a chance to experience.  I’ve been to ADL — twice, I think, and the I think should probably tell you something about my experience there: meh.  I mean, it’s lovely Italian fare in a precious Park Slope corner space, and there are always lines, and the portions are decent and there’s a gentle but confident hand in the kitchen.  It is simply that: lovely.  It fails to excite.  (But maybe that’s the point?)

So when I read that the ADL team was opening up another Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, I didn’t really think much of it.  Neither did my friend Mark, who actually lives near the new place, until a few weekends ago, when we decided, just for the hell of it, to check it out.   And then, all at once, everything changed.

Here’s what you should know, if you don’t already know this about me: I love Frankies 457 in Carroll Gardens.  I love it in a deep, painfully loyal way that makes it very difficult, when I’m in that neighborhood, to consider any other options.  Frankies makes food that doesn’t really look like much, and then it tastes so satisfying and comforting that really, in that moment, nothing else really matters.   I’ve converted numerous people otherwise skeptical of the place, to its charms.  Including Mark.  We go there so much that we more or less developed set menu for ourselves: first of all, we sit at the bar.  This is just what we do.  Then we split the octopus salad with dandelion greens, the antipasti plate, and the cavatelli with hot sausage and brown butter.  And a carafe of their house red, a steal at $13.  For dessert, it used to be the creme brulee (see below), but nowadays it’s the stewed Armagnac prunes with mascarpone, a dish my shrink  — yes, my shrink; we spend an inordinate amount of time discussing Brooklyn dining, he and i; yes, I find this at once strange and completely normal, because what else do I talk about with people? — had to convince me during one of our sessions to order the next time I was at the restaurant, since I mean prunes?  really?  But jesus, what a dish.  Once we had it, we couldn’t get enough of it.

So yeah, back to the point.  So we went to Bar Corvo a few Sundays ago, just for the hell of it.  Ordered the squid appetizer, the cavatelli with lemon ricotta, and the tagliatelle al’ragu.  A glass of Cab Franc and one of the Gruner.  Dug in.  Fell in love.   Ordered the panna cotta with blood orange caramel for dessert.  Nearly died.   Came back the following Sunday (just this past weekend), and started in on the squid again (it’s got a great orange confit and hazelnut dressing, oh my word is it good), switched up the main dishes: a warm farro salad with brussel sprouts and goat cheese, and the chitarra pasta with squid ink and octopus confit.   The panna cotta once more.  A few heady groans from our end of the bar.  Mark proclaimed the octopus preparation in the chitarra dish to be the best he’d ever had.  I couldn’t stop eating the farro salad.  Two weeks ago I hated panna cotta; now I was gleefully devouring it.   And then suddenly we wondered out loud: have we found a new local?  Are we cheating on Frankies?  Do we love the new place more than we love Frankies?

Sort of?

Mark thinks that the cavatelli at Frankies is the best thing ever.  (I’m serious about this; I’m pretty sure he is too, but he’d probably throw in some caveats involving Chicago pizza.)  And he thinks that the wonders of the cavatelli + the joys of the antipasti plate put Frankies on top — but just barely.  Me, I think the pastas at Bar Corvo are, across the board, extraordinary, all 9s to the Frankies cavatelli’s 10.  But the other pastas at Frankies are probably only around a 6 or 7.   Every dish at BC zings in a way that makes my ears prickle a bit; someone in the kitchen there has good sense of introducing just a wee bit of citrus flavors into most of the dishes, giving everything a lighter feel.

And then somewhere in the middle of our conversation we made some analogy to dating that I’ll not post here, because Mark and I are otherwise very genteel people who maybe just this once got very carried away with some inappropriate metaphors.

So I mean, it’s like this: Frankies is probably the better place; the room is a bit nicer, the bar seats a bit more comfortable, and there’s also a proper bartender who walks up and down the length of the bar, making cocktails and seeing to it that everyone’s properly fed.  There’s someone who makes the cocktails at BC, but she’s planted at one end of the bar; the rest of the bar looks in on the kitchen, which is nice, but maybe not as nice as the warm but dim lights and dark woodiness of Frankies’ space.  It’s homier, Frankies.  It’s the one you’ve settle down with for the long haul because it is awesome and christ I’m about to say something about a back garden which suddenly now sounds very not-genteel, and it never lets you down as long as you don’t order the gnocchi.  (Seriously, the gnocchi is really just sort of boring.)

But I can’t stop thinking about Bar Corvo.    And the zinginess.   And that fucking blood orange caramel panna cotta.  And plotting when I can return, again and again.

I hear they’re going to start a brunch some time soon.  The end of me, I tell you.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 19 May 2012 10:43 pm

    “And that fucking blood orange caramel panna cotta.” LMAO

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