There are more than a few neighborhoods in Brooklyn with strong Italian roots. These days, most areas are a diverse mix of new arrivals and older residents, but that classic Italian heritage remains, especially when it comes to food. Here are a few neighborhood classics not to miss. Mangia!
Named for Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, Carroll Gardens has long been an Italian neighborhood, a fact made clear by the mom-and-pop restaurants and storefronts along Smith and Court Streets, the two main drags.
Capesante con piselli | Queen Restaurant
Queen Restaurant, though technically in Brooklyn Heights, deserves a mention because it’s so close to Carroll Gardens and is a family-owned restaurant. Brothers Pasquino and Vincent Vitiello took over cooking from their father, Anthony, who opened the restaurant in 1958. The pollo alla fiorentina and house-made mozzarella are not to be missed, nor is the zabaglione when it comes time for dessert.
An Easter tradition | Mazzola Bakery
Marco Polo has a great selection of fish dishes and a raw bar. Their excellent pastas include fettuccine al vino rosso, which is tossed, table-side, in a hollowed out parmesan wheel. If you’re more inclined to snack than to dine, check out Court Pastry (for the sfogliatelle or lobster tail pastry), Mazzola Bakery (for the lard bread) and Caputo’s (Italian specialties of all kinds, from meats, cheese, and olive oils to breads and pastas). Get cannoli at each one and compare!
Baked clams come highly recommended at Fiorentino’s | Franny A. via Yelp
IN GRAVESEND, BENSONHURST AND SHEEPSHEAD BAY
The southern half of Brooklyn is filled with Italian enclaves including Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge. Fiorentino’s in Gravesend has been in business for three decades and serves classic red sauce fare. The back of the restaurant is good for big groups, and tends to get boisterous, so ask for a table in the front if you’re after a quiet dinner. The stuffed artichokes, manicotti and chicken parmigiana are worth the trip.
An intimate setting | La Palina
In Bensonhurst, fans flock to La Palina for the chicken scarpariello, baked clams and, on Sundays only, meatball braciole. On the water in Sheepshead Bay, Randazzo’s Clam Bar specializes in seafood, with a raw bar, spicy scungilli, and shrimp Randazzo, a mixed seafood pasta dish with lemon, garlic, butter and wine.
Law & Order: SVU, filmed at Bamonte’s | NBC
While waterfront Williamsburg is better known for condo towers and high-end shopping, once you pass Union Street you’ll catch sight of sign posts and mailboxes painted in the colors of the Italian flag.
Bamonte’s has been around for more than 100 years, and the massive dining room, full bar, and old-school, tuxedoed waiters make it a popular choice for a Saturday night or special occasion. The mussels marinara, gnocchi and eggplant parmigiana are the way to go here. It was also featured as the setting for a retirement party on a recent episode of “Law & Order: SVU.”
Mussels in the kitchen | Frost Restaurant
Frost Restaurant is more of a seafood destination, tucked away on a quiet side street near Graham Avenue. The Shrimp fra diavolo or baked clams are great choices, as is the linguini with clam sauce.