After living in Italy for a few years, I’m pretty picky about my Italian food, and I don’t really believe in paying a lot for a plate of pasta. Sorry, but I know what goes into it, and I know what it should cost. However, that said, there are still a few places where I think a splurge is worth it, and Antica Pesa is one of my newfound favorites.
The space is gorgeous, and there are few places like it in the city, as far as I’m concerned. When you enter, the first thing you notice is how wide and open the whole space is. There’s a bar that faces an oversized fireplace, and there’s a seating section behind you, with tables in the front windows. Pass through this bar area and there’s a seating area in the back, where there is a mix of smaller tables and oversized, padded booths. Modern lighting hangs above the space, and the effect is cool, sleek, and sexy.
When we arrived our table reservation wasn’t ready, so we waited at the bar for a little bit. The bartender asked me what I wanted, and I had no real idea, and told him I like tequila. He whipped up a tequila, St. Germain elderflower drink that was incredible — tart, refreshing, not too sweet, and pleasantly potent.
This Antica Pesa is actually the second location, the first one being in Rome, Italy. Which should obviously be a sign that the food is going to be insanely good.
For appetizers my friend and I ordered the Crudo e Bufala Croccante, which is prosciutto di parma served with a phyllo dough baked mozzarella. The crispy texture of the phyllo was a nice addition to the creaminess of the mozzarella, and I thought the prosciutto was delicious — not too fatty and stringy, which is sometimes my complaint with prosciutto. This was aged beautifully and melted in your mouth.
Our second appetizer was the Prosciutto D’Anatra, or duck prosciutto, which is homemade and served with an asparagus and fennel salad, cannelini bean pate, and piadina, a thin, type of bread. The plate was decorated with a swoosh of balsamic vinegar, which further complemented the flavors of the dish.
And what flavors they were!
I think this might be one of my absolute favorite dishes I’ve ever had, and I will definitely be back for round two. The duck prosciutto had a very deep, rich flavor unlike typical prosciutto, which I adored. It wasn’t smoky per se, but the flavor had that same tenacity. The asparagus and fennel salad was perfectly balanced, the anise flavor perfectly balanced by the asparagus. The cannelini bean pate was addictive — smooth, creamy, richly flavored without at all being heavy, this was something I would gladly order by the pound and eat it on toast for breakfast. The piadina was delicious, too, and served as a great foundation to the whole thing — this is definitely one of those dishes where you want to make sure you get a little bit of everything in each bite.
For my entree I had the tonnarelli al pesto. The pasta was large, almost like an udon noodle, and I enjoyed the hearty texture. Definitely fresh, this was a delightful plate, served with basil pesto, a bit of tomato sauce, and buffalo mozzarella. The flavors were more subdued, in a pleasant way, and everything blended together perfectly. I was expecting a smaller portion, but they were quite generous with the serving.
We had a bottle of Falanghina, which complemented all of the flavors perfectly (particularly the duck prosciutto), and was highly recommended by the waiter.
I felt the prices were incredibly fair for the quality and quantity of food, though this is definitely one of the nicer places out there, so just be prepared for that. Appetizers and pastas are all just under $20, and the meat entrees are about $20-30.
115 Berry Street (North Seventh Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn