Monday, April 16, 2012

Bar Corvo vs. Al di La

After a gorgeous sunny day at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens on Saturday, a few of us hit an early dinner at the new Bar Corvo in Prospect Heights. The couple behind Al di La created a more neighborhood-style vibe at Bar Corvo, with the ambiance more like a modern Frankies 457 in Carroll Gardens than a little sister of the almost Victorian-chic style Al di La. The menu at Bar Corvo reads more like the New American, but its awfully similar to the trattoria. In fact, it was pretty hard not to compare every dish to the ones I've had at Al di La. I didn't write notes or take pictures the cold night I went to Al di La on Superbowl Sunday, so I'll use Saturday's experience to boost my memory and review both here.

The farro salad to start. Both grainy salads have dollops of tangy goat cheese, nutty hazelnuts and a light vinagrette; at Bar Corvo, brussel sprouts instead of Al di La's cauliflower. Both versions are more impressive than they sound.

They had a good concept with the oxtail, and brought something similar, but less complex, to Bar Corvo. It is slow simmered and rich, like a tender pot roast, poured on top of polenta. At Al di La, cuttlefish gives the dish a darker, saltier taste.

The malfatti, a dish I think Bar Corvo does better. The swiss chard and ricotta stuffed gnocchi at Al di La swims in sage brown butter; here, the same pasta is given lighter treatment with a creamy olive oil sauce and walnuts.

They know dessert at Al di La and Bar Corvo. Specifically, they know panna cotta -- light, creamy, a tiny bit tangy. Bar Corvo's creme fraiche panna cotta topped with a sticky blood orange caramel comes with two small cookies... just like at Al di La. I think I had the rhubarb panna cotta at Al di La, but I might have had a few too many glasses of high quality wine to properly remember. Maybe it was cherry? Anyway, we also tried some chocolate bread pudding with red wine cherries. 

While Bar Corvo doesn't have that worn in, comfortable and cozy yet consistently crowded feel of Al di La, you can still get a good idea as to what they're about at Bar Corvo. I recommend whichever you're closer to.

Bar Corvo
791 Washington Ave
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Al di La
248 Fifth Ave
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Ricotta Pie

An Italian Easter dessert, made by my mom.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chocolate, Hot and Cold

First, the hot. The dark hot chocolate from Lily O-Brien's reminds me of the inside of a molten chocolate cake. The milk and the white hot chocolates are good too, but not as rich. Lily O'Brien's uses 55% cocoa in it so it can get a little bitter. An extra packet of sugar does the trick. Plus, they add in a little treat.

Now the cold. This morning's frozen Mayan chocolate with pasilla chili, espresso and whipped cream from Brooklyn Label. Spicy, icy caffeination.

The Brooklyn French Toast made with creamy challah and topped with cranberry pecan butter completed the sugar rush.

Lily O'Briens
36 West 40th St.

Brooklyn Label
180 Franklin St.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sripraphai Takeout

It was cold and rainy tonight. A perfect night to drive over to Sripraphai for our staples to go -- spicy red curry with chicken, crispy pork with basil, coconut rice and duck salad. Hot chilis melt into sweet rice, the spiciness cut with cool cucumbers and pineapple from the salad, the crispy pork pulverized in a bite with a fleck of Thai basil.The ingredients are fresh and simple, meeting the ideal balance of spicy and sweet, cool and warm, soft and crispy.

6413 39th Avenue
Woodside, Queens