You know those places you build up in your head until they’ve reached mythical proportions? Like the bar in your college town that you actually had to wait until you were 21 to get into, or the apartment of the person you’ve been on six dates with, or The Olive Garden?
Aita was one of those places for us.
On a quiet, charming corner on the Clinton Hill/Fort Greene border, Aita always called to us. We’re easily seduced by neighborhood Italian spots, and whenever we passed this one it always looked especially enticing: a communal wooden table, a nice bar, homey details, and lots of people that always look so g*ddamn cozy.
And just like how your college town bar ended up just being a bar, and The Olive Garden ended up just being a sad place with stale unlimited breadsticks, Aita is exactly as you would expect: a solid casual neighborhood Italian spot. The usuals suspects are all here (kale salad, calamari, grilled branzino, pastas), made with rotating seasonal ingredients, and good - though none are particularly memorable. This is the kind of place you’re lucky to have if you live nearby, but not quite worth making a journey for.
So if you find yourself in Clinton Hill on a date, or with a few friends, or with your parents - Aita will give you what you need. Once you factor in its secret attached bar around the corner (Mayflower), you’ll even have more than you need. And that’s worth a whole lot more than unlimited breadsticks.
A nice and kind of different way to start your meal: with pieces of pork. They come on top of potatoes, peppers, and onions - cozy food in a cozy restaurant.
There's always a fried vegetable on the menu at Aita, and we recommend getting one order for the table to split.
If you’re craving a pasta with meat sauce, this is your order. For a meat sauce pasta, it’s on the lighter side. Or maybe that's just the green noodles talking.
The richest option of the pastas - little pillows of oxtail meat in a brown sauce. The small-ish size of the dish keeps this from feeling over the top. But while Aita is definitely affordable, those small sizes are also what keeps it from feeling like a true value spot.
We have no idea what the technical difference between gnudi and gnocchi are, so we’re just going to assume it’s a matter of size. These are big gnocchi stuffed with ricotta, and your best vegetarian pasta option.