NYCReview

In a certain sense, Ammazzacaffè is like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia. From the street, this Williamsburg spot doesn’t look like much - but walk inside, and you’ll find a big space with high ceilings, tiled floors, and candlelit tables. Behind that, there’s a nice backyard surrounded by a brick wall. Factor in the above-average food, and you’ll leave wondering why you didn’t know about this place sooner.

The menu here is Italian, but there isn’t any cacio e pepe or carbonara. Instead, there’s agnolotti with almond pesto, reginette with pancetta and caciocavallo, and a few other pastas that you won’t see everywhere else. There are also small plates and mains that, for the most part, are better and more interesting than what you’ll find at your average neighborhood Italian spot. Ammazzacaffè’s take on a caesar salad, for example, comes covered in bottarga, and their duck comes on a big pile of farro with some chicken and duck liver mousse underneath. It’s rich, salty, and tastes like something you’d make for Thanksgiving after you had a few drinks and thought, “Let’s do something different this year.”

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If it’s nice out, have your food in the backyard. It’s full of little wooden picnic tables with strings of lights overhead, and it’s one of our favorite low-key outdoor dining options in Williamsburg. The inside is similarly impressive, with hanging light bulbs, exposed brick, and a couple of small dining rooms separated by an open kitchen. The best part is that you can get a table here any night.

For the moment at least, not a lot of people seem to know about Ammazzacaffè - and you should take advantage of this. Sure, dinner can get a little pricey (pastas are around $20, and the least expensive main is $29), but this isn’t an every-night kind of place. Use it as a solid backup plan when you forgot to book a table in advance, and be sure to end your meal with an amaro (they have over 60 different kinds). Taken together, the food, space, and relaxed atmosphere make this place a secret well worth knowing about. Much like a magical wardrobe that should be kept out of the reach of children.

Food Rundown

Spiedini

There are a few different skewers on the menu, and the pancetta one (far right) is our favorite. It’s small, but it makes for a good snack to start your meal.

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Lattuga

This is a large bowl of romaine lettuce covered in cheese and bottarga. There’s also some bagna cauda on the bottom, and if you mix it all together, it tastes like a rich caesar salad. If you need lettuce, order it.

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Tartare

This sea trout tartare starter has herbs and roe, which provide some good texture. You’ll want to serve it at your next cocktail party - or your first cocktail party, if you’ve never thrown a cocktail party.

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Garganelli

Once when we were eating this, someone leaned over and asked if it was “comfort food.” It was a slightly odd question coming from a stranger, but that’s a good way to describe this pasta with bolognese and rosemary. It’s rich and satisfying, and a bowl of this at the bar on a weeknight will make you a considerably happier person.

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Gemelli Verde

A surprisingly rich bowl of spinach pasta with mushrooms and goat cheese. If you don’t eat meat, order this.

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Anatra

You could split this duck with one other person, and you should. It comes with sweet, crispy skin on a bed of chicken and duck liver mousse with some farro and that tastes vaguely like Thanksgiving stuffing. There’s a lot going on, but it works pretty well.

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