If you’re going to open a restaurant in Carroll Gardens, it better look the part. If you’ve got a garden, open up the garden. They love gardens over there. Throw in some bright summer umbrellas. Oh, you’ve got a baby blue Vespa? Stick that back there too.
Cafe Spaghetti is made for a neighborhood like this one, and it’s a lovely addition to the list of places where we’d like to be seen drinking spritzes in the summer. They’re doing good things with simple, quality Italian food, but this spot is unquestionably on our radar because of the backyard. It's one of the best in Brooklyn.
Most of the seating is out back, in a very charming, very Carroll-Gardens-meets-Call-Me-By-Your-Name courtyard. Here, you sit under one of the limoncello yellow umbrellas watching waiters glide around the Vespa in the center of the space, pretending you’re on holiday in someone else’s life. The scene is set, and the barebones, rustic dishes suit it well.
Of all the things one can get at an Italian restaurant, we don’t know if we’ve ever been dying to order the spaghetti pomodoro. But if there’s anywhere to eat your rent-week favorite in public, it’s Cafe Spaghetti, where a simple tomato sauce on handmade pasta is surprisingly rich and buttery. Another great option, the minimally-sauced pasta e piselli packs a ton of flavor, with help from salty guanciale and fresh mint. The “riceballs” and spiedini are similarly unfussy and ultra comforting combinations of cheese, sauce, and carbs.
Cafe Spaghetti is a picture-perfect addition to this corner of Carroll Gardens—and they’ve already got a ton of neighborhood regulars stepping into frame. The next time you need to show off a new sundress, this is the spot that’ll make it pop. But know that if you find yourself there in the off-season, the food is just as warm and inviting.
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These cacio e pepe arancini (called “Riceballs” on the menu) are light, crispy, and gooey. They’re also the best appetizer on the menu.
Spiedini Alla Romana
A surprise hit. We don’t see much spiedini on the menu at many Italian restaurants, and this one makes us wish we did. It's big and drenched in an anchovy-tomato sauce that gets even better with a last squeeze of lemon on top.
Sure, it might take some explaining to get your table to allow you to purchase spaghetti pomodoro, but this one uses quality pasta and tons of garlic, and it makes us feel like we’ve just stopped at the cafe for a quick lunch. (Even as full families linger in the crowded yard for hours.)
Cavatelli Alla Nerano
The cavatelli is satisfyingly cheesy, so you’ll probably find yourself picking at this pasta no matter how you feel about it. But it’s otherwise unremarkable.
Patrizia's Eggplant Parm
We like the sauce on this fine, but the eggplant does kind of drown in the sauce and cheese until it completely disappears.
We like that this tiramisu is on the lighter side, and it’s got a lot of espresso flavor.