Friday, June 8, 2007

Williamsburg's Little Italy

La Piazzetta
442 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 349-1627

IF YOU'RE LUCKY enough to be out on Graham Avenue on the right weekend morning, you might catch a glimpse of the Virgin. She's hard to miss. She'll be the Virgin carried on the shoulders of churchgoers, her presence heralded by a makeshift marching band that makes up for in sound what it lacks in size and formality. It's a sight of such tight-knit community devotion I'd imagine even an atheist might smile to see it.

This is Williamsburg's Little Italy--meat markets, pasta shops, pizza joints, men's clubs, and old world charm--stretching maybe a dozen blocks up Graham Avenue, perhaps only three or four blocks wide, nestled between the BQE and Bushwick. There are more famous Italian sections of Brooklyn; there are certainly larger ones. I would still think La Piazzetta must possess one of the better Italian kitchens among them.

Both beautiful and casual

Emerging from this kitchen, Chef Francesco Cuozzo greets his tables and recites his specials on most nights, as he can, as he did this evening. Mint and I did not settle on one of these (though his antipasta plate assembled from a spread of offerings set up alongside the kitchen wall was tempting), selecting instead a few plates of pasta, calamari, and a bottle of wine (lots of selections in the low $20 range). Everything at La Piazzetta is reasonably priced, and, given the quality, an excellent value.

My stupid cameraphone takes terrible low-light pictures, so I have none to show you. But the whole wheat fettuccine with eggplant was terrifically hearty, needless to say perfectly cooked, and the tomato sauce was amazingly sweet and flavorful. Mint raved about the pancetta that flavored the red sauce over her rigatoni. For a relaxed, reasonably casual restaurant that serves up Italian fare of such remarkable quality, you really can't do better that La Piazzetta.

MIKE EATS NEXT TIME: One of the few Italian places he'll visit expecting to get a great plate of pasta.

Photos courtesy and La Piazzetta.

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