To celebrate a year since we moved from Haggerston to Boerum Hill, we spent a weekend being tourists in our local neighborhoods. Which really means we spent two days stuffing our faces. Our first stop was in the Italian streets of Carroll Gardens, at Ferdinando's Focacceria.
We were held back at the door as elderly (and obviously Italian) Alfredo and his wife had arrived at the same time as us, and their table was ready and waiting for them, so they were ushered in with the utmost courtesy and respect, while they motioned at us to wait to one side. Once that welcome serenade was over (this neighborhood is run by deeply-rooted family relationships, arguments, businesses, disputes, money, and friendships), we were acknowledged with a nod of the head, and once some tables had been rearranged for another Italian family of nine, they found two seats for us in the corner.
Stepping into Ferdinando's Foacceria is almost a culture shock. Walking through that door from Brooklyn sidewalk into Sicilian weekend lunchtime is likely the closest I'll ever get to being able to teleport. We were rapidly presented with menus, drinks came flying towards us, and we tried to quickly figure out what on the menu we could stand to skip.
Crispy, light, freshly deep-fried panelle with a huge splodge of ricotta and a scattering of sprinkled cheese will forever by one of my all time favorite accompaniments to a cold glass of wine on a hot summer's day.
We couldn't go somewhere Sicilian and not order arancini (or, more correctly, one giant arancina). Because, well, arancini are perhaps one of the best food inventions ever. And at Ferdinando's they're ginormous and stuffed full of meat and peas and covered in tomato sauce and cheese and... well... as you can see, it was fab. When we'd wiped those plates clean we realized we had definitely over-ordered.
Pasta con sarde followed. A giant bowl of bucatini topped with smoky, lightly spiced, subtly sweet sardine and tomato sauce, which was wonderfully slurpy and messy and made me massively regret my decision to wear white.
And, just in case that wasn't enough, we'd also ordered a meatball parm roll. We didn't want to miss out. Rich meatballs, covered in sweet tomato sauce, melting cheese, and tucked in a fluffy bun are always welcomed, no matter how severe the food coma that follows.
Ferdinando's Focacceria, 151 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Cash Only.