“Pay attention to the specials.”
I can’t imagine how many times I have written that sentence, but I do know that it’s a lot. The Infatuation: helping restaurants sell day old food since 2009.
But here the sentence has a different meaning.
Lately, we’ve become more judicious about what restaurants actually warrant an Infatuation review. In the beginning, our main goal was coverage – making sure that when you opened up the app or searched the site, you got a full and effective set of results. Looking day drinking in Williamsburg on a Tuesday? No judgement here, only answers...you drunk.
But as time has passed and the reviews have rolled in, we now find ourselves in a different situation. One in which we need to limit the amount of places that we write up such that you are only getting to the stuff that matters or fits a need. Do we really have to weigh in on that farm to table Thai restaurant that will likely close before you get a chance to eat there? Probably not. A 7.2 isn’t gonna do much for you.
It then becomes more important than ever that we add extra emphasis to the establishments in this city that are truly special. Restaurants that are worth going out of your way for. Al Di La is one of them.
It should probably go without saying that a restaurant that’s been open since 1998 is still good. Consistency is the only way to keep people coming back year after year, let alone decade after decade. But Al Di La is more than just that. In a city with so many Italian restaurants that even the American ones serve pasta, few are actually memorable enough that you make a mental note to bring your mom there next time she's in town. Even fewer have a menu that is perfect from top to bottom. Fewer still know how to serve a bottle of wine at the right temperature (why do so many Italian restaurants store their wine above the oven?). But the best part about Al Di La is that it's simple. No gimmicks, no scene, just rustic Italian food that will never fail you.
So, while we remind ourselves to pay attention to the specials, let this serve as a reminder that you should too. Some are restaurants in a class of their own. And some are just day old food.
A swiss chard and ricotta gnocchi, served in a brown butter sauce. As you can see, there's a lot of swiss chard in the mix, making it taste quite a bit more like greens than it does pasta. Maybe that makes it...healthier? Either way, it's good, but we like to spend our stomach space on the other pastas more.
Everyone likes pasta that's been filled with stuff, and the stuff in Al Di La's tortelli changes with the seasons. Sometimes it's corn, sometimes it's squash (seen below).
Simple and absolutely perfect. This is a must order on every Al Di La visit, as far as we're concerned.
Squid ink and and garlic and spicy things. Plate of pasta/Christmas wish list.
Two pork chops, pounded thin, topped with sage and prosciutto. This is what you order if you want something more than pasta.
Al Di La is known for their risottos, and has rotating specials for them. Order one to share - they're generous portions and always tremendous.