River Deli sits on a bucolic stretch of Joralemon Street just a block from the East River, where leafy trees obscure the rush of the nearby BQE. Last night the new restaurant was bustling with a steady stream of neighbors stopping in to try the Sardinian food of husband-and-wife team Giovanna Fadda and Andrea Mocci.
The couple hail from Sardinia, and their menu includes staples from that Italian island, situated west of the mainland in the Mediterranean Sea. (Sardines take their name from the region.)
Malloreddus sardi alla campidanese is a typical Sardinian pasta, and the name makes it sound more complicated than it is. Malloreddus is a compact pasta that resembles small, ridged grubs. In this dish, that pasta is flavored with just a bit of saffron and dressed in a simple, bright tomato sauce enriched with marble-sized sausage balls. A bare sprinkle of Pecorino, a cheese made in Sardinia, goes on top.
We also particularly liked the antipasto of steamed asparagus with béchamel sauce and diced prosciutto served on the crisp Sardinian flatbread called pane carasau.
River Deli hits the sweet spots of neighborhood restaurant-dom — simple, relatively affordable food; a fairly priced Italian wine list with some indigenous Sardinian varietals; and a congenial, laid-back feel.
32 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn