I seem to walk past Rucola most evenings, and whether I'm on my way to a 6pm yoga class, or on my way back from a pottery lesson at 9pm, there's always a buzzy, warm, happy atmosphere exuding from the doors and windows of this Boerum Hill restaurant.
After a long, rainy Saturday of being snuggled up inside, we finally got dressed out of our pyjamas and braved the weather to walk one block down Dean Street for a date night at Rucola. We wiggled into two seats on the long sharing table which fills the center of the room, trying hard not to elbow our new neighbors in the head as we sat down. A very serious life-discussion was going on between the couple next to us, and the other on our other side couple just stared at me with disdain when I trapped to snap photos of every dish - so apologies for the slightly fuzzy photos. They had a scary stare.
We toasted to 5 months of married life with a negroni and a beer, and nibbled on focaccia and olive oil, balsamic roasted beets and the crispiest, perfectly salted, fried cauliflower.
Rucola focuses on using the finest, seasonal ingredients to create a concise, North Italian style menu. There's a vegetable-focus, with salads taking up as much of the menu as the
mains entrées. The food is served simply, on plates and in bowls intended for sharing, as all the best food is.
Pumpkin crostino consisted of two juicy slices of pumpkin nestled on top of a slather of spicy 'nduja butter with a sprinkle of oregano. The meaty 'nduja butter added just the right amount of depth and spice: B was super sad that he had to share this.
rocket arugula, shaved radish, celery seed vinaigrette and parmesan salad was crunchy and bright: the perfect antidote to the rich crostino.
B was insistent on ordering the tagliatelle, and I was only happy to oblige. I will never say no to a bowl of homemade pasta, especially when each strand of the tagliatelle has been perfectly coated in pancetta, cream, black pepper and thyme. Proof that perfect pasta needs little decoration to turn it into a beautiful and satisfying bowl of food.
But the showstopper of the evening was the flank steak. Served on a small plate, the red meat was hiding braised kale which had been tossed with sweet currants and pine nuts. When you stuck your fork in to lift up a mouthful, you discovered a gorgeous melting slice of gorgonzola piccante underneath: Saturday night perfection on a fork.
All this food had been accompanied by a quartino of a delicate Gargenega, and a quartino of soft, and far too easy to drink Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.
Eventually, we donated our seats to a couple from the long line of hungry people, and rolled back down the block, grateful to live in the same beautiful Brooklyn neighbourhood as this welcoming restaurant, which serves up the most comforting Italian fare 3 meals a day, 7 days a week.
Rucola, 190 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217