The yellow awning of Al Di Li blazes into the frigid Park Slope night.
I’d always liked the food at Al Di La, but realized that it achieves its effects through application of major amounts of salt, grease, and garlic, which is still the case. Nevertheless, the menu–which hasn’t changed much over the years–remains excellent, with chef Anna Klinger at the helm.
The tripe appetizer ($13) comes in a crock, sided with a grilled toast and swimming in brick-red sauce. The stomach lining has been extensively de-skankified, and the flavor is rich and plain. This is authentic Florentine cooking at its best. On a more experimental note, a pool of polenta comes with a midnight sauce of deboned oxtail and cuttlefish swimming in squid ink ($10). It sounds shocking, but the flavor is spectacular, and the creamy polenta sets the sauce off spectacularly.
Every evening there’s a special soup, and in our case it was a minestrone ($8) that provided a nice respite from the rich flavors we’d already encountered. The service at Al Di La is wonderful, and our waiter readily split the soup into two portions for us without being asked. He later did the same thing when we shared a glass of wine, our glasses having run dry during the final course.
That course consisted of a plate of agreeable tortelli stuffed with truffled sheep’s-milk ricotta, with the truffle a background note and the stuffed pasta reclining in a mild broth. The pasta finds its home in Emilia-Romagna, and is quite unlike tortellini on one hand and ravioli on the other. The secondo we chose was rabbit with black olives ($16.50). Historically, it’s one of the restaurant’s most celebrated dishes. While we were already stuffed when we assayed it, the dish was so good, we plowed through it in spite of ourselves. The bunny had been well-browned, then stewed to complete tenderness.
Al Di La is a small trattoria you’d be very happy to stumble on in rural Italy. The only difference is that the menu is from far-flung corners of the northern half of the country, rather than confined to one area. 248 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, 718-636-8888
Tripe cooked in the Florentine manner is a high point of Al Di La’s menu.