>> 1/18/10

204 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 599-6599

Eating out with both Speeds and Mr. Dogz at the same time requires logistics. While she spends money like it's going out of style, he's the cheapest person I know. However, he's willing to travel and she acts like her neighborhood were surrounded by some invisible shield, beyond which she dare not go. Luckily, I had a couple of things going for me. First, Speeds' boyfriend, Saint Love. He lives in Williamsburg and probably did a little behind-the-scenes cajoling to convince her to cross into the great beyond. The second is Baci & Abbracci, probably the best priced restaurant, in terms of quality for the price, that I've ever eaten in.

Everyone converged on Baci & Abbracci at about 7:45 on a cold wintery Thursday. I was very surprised how many tables were open. I'd have expected them to be packed. They should have been. (Seriously, stop reading this and go eat there... well, open a few more pages and tell your friends to bookmark me.) We were shown a table, ordered some drinks, and started to think about food. Our waiter was so not in our faces that I don't even remember what he looked like. All I remember is that somehow all the food arrived in front of us and our water glasses refilled themselves as if by magic.

I started the meal off with a Zuppa di Zucca. A sweet, creamy butternut squash soup with grilled sea scallops, perfect for these cold months and reminiscent of something you might have at grandma's while waiting for the Thanksgiving dinner to cook. There were, admittedly, only two scallops in the soup, which was disappointing to me on a theoretical level. But I don't like scallops, so I really didn't care. Speeds and Saint Love ordered Fried Calamari, which was quite good. Sure, every Italian restaurant - hell practically every pizza place - serves fried calamari. It's about as unique as finding a napkin on the table. But this calamari was better than average. It was lighter and less weighed down by excessive breading.

The real heaven of the meal came with the entrees. Saint Love ordered the most average Joe dish of the evening, Spaghetti al Pomodoro, a bowl of spaghetti which he asked for in a tomato-meat sauce. He liked it a lot, but since he was coming down with a cold, I refrained from sticking my fork in his food. It was difficult. Speeds ordered a special, so the odds are, you won't get a chance to try it, but it was fantastic. She ordered a Butternut Squash Fettuccini in a cream sauce with mushrooms. Mr. Dogz took the evening with what I think was the flat-out most amazing entree of all, Violette di Parma. First, let me re-affirm my love of gnocchi: I love gnocchi. Now let me re-affirm my dislike of beets: I don't like beets. But somehow, the good chefs at Baci & Abbracci have managed to combine the two into something insanely good. Violette di Parma (pictured above) is a red beet and goat cheese gnocchi with arugula in a cream sauce. The gnocchis were sweet but tangy and as soft as butter. Every bite encouraged you to chew slowly so as not to lose any flavor. My dinner, while also very very good, simply doesn't compare. Pappardelle al Ragu d'Agnello, pappardelle pasta in a lamb meat sauce (pictured below). This dish is Italian comfort food at its best. No pretense, no gloppy soup of tomato sauce to stain your checkered-napkin cum bib. Just pasta, perfectly cooked, with a thin coating of tomato and ground lamb.

Pasta is filling, and with an appetizer and having picked a little at everyone's plate, I just didn't have it in me for dessert to go beyond a cup of coffee. Speeds and Saint Love did decided to get a Tiramisu though. I stole a corner and can attest that, like everything else we ate that night, this fluffy cube of espresso-soaked cake and cream didn't disappoint.

Baci & Abbracci also serves brick oven pizzas, which we regrettably did not get a chance to try. I'll simply have to return as soon as I can.

Baci & Abbracci on Urbanspoon


M,  January 19, 2010 at 1:13 AM  

Good choice with the gnocchi. Had it and loved it. The reason they aren't packed, and are rarely packed, is that the place isn't very Williamsburgy. The two times I've eaten there it's been populated by older, yuppier types. Those types are in short supply in the neighborhood. Plus the AWFUL world music.

Jon Parker January 19, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

I've missed ya, M! And didn't notice any world music actually. But I definitely noticed that the crowd was a bit older and yuppier than I'm used to for Williamsburg (30-40 year olds with jobs). In all seriousness, although the couple next to us was all tattooed and pierced, most everyone else was pretty clean cut.

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