Like sharing, being patient, and not calling someone stupid to their face, compromising is an important life lesson you’re taught from a very young age. And while we’ve never been great at the first three things, compromising is something you have to learn in order to survive New York City. You want a studio with a full kitchen and great natural light that’s larger than a coffin? You better be okay with moving to Rockaway. Looking for a place to get some fresh air on a Saturday afternoon? You’re going to have to share that park bench with at least four other people, one of whom is having a philosophical conversation with an iguana on his shoulder.
And when it comes to eating out in NYC, you’re also going to have to compromise - your time, your money, and/or your personal space. But not at LaRina. At this neighborhood restaurant in Fort Greene, you don’t just get great pasta, great prices, or a great patio. You get all three of those things in the same restaurant. And the only person having crazy philosophical conversations is you, wondering why dinner can’t always be this easy.
LaRina is the second Italian spot from the people behind Aita in Clinton Hill. We like Aita, but LaRina is special. Special in the way that makes you feel - especially when you’re eating and drinking on the magic patio - like you are a lucky person, and that anybody who isn’t here is an unlucky person.
LaRina’s thing is pasta, and you should plan to go big on it. The easiest way to do so is by ordering from the tasting menu, which lets you try three of them for $38. If you’re with one other person, split that, a couple of small plates, and a carafe of wine (after trying one of their many cocktails), and you have a pretty perfect dinner.
Just like rent-controlled apartments and Craigslist roommates, casual dinners often call for compromises. But now that we have LaRina, that won’t be necessary.
One of the nightly specials here is always a seasonal salad, and we don’t just order them to convince ourselves that we’re eating a balanced meal. We order them because they’re really good.
Yeah, you already know what burrata tastes like. But you don’t know what it tastes like with olives, peanuts, and a spoonful of olive oil all slathered on top of fresh focaccia. This is delicious and totally unexpected and a thing that you’ll keep turning over and over in your head like that inappropriate thing you said to your boss yesterday.
Another great small plate if you’re looking to break up the pasta on your table. Simple and so good, and, thanks to lots of cheese and charred-ness, not something there will be any leftovers of. Unlike that steamed broccoli you try to shove down your throat at home.
The minute we tried LaRina’s smoked spaghetti is the minute we realized LaRina is not your typical neighborhood pasta place. How they smoke spaghetti, we have no idea. All we know is that we’ve never tried anything like it.
If you’re one of those who’s like “why do I need to order a pasta that just has cheese and pepper,” you need to take a long hard look in the mirror. Then order this one (which also has asparagus.)
Burrata and pesto and little pillows of joy. LaRina is in the business of pleasing people, which is also why there’s a little pasta market at the back of the restaurant. On your way out, pick up some fresh pasta to make tomorrow in an attempt to create something that tastes at least one sixth as good as this.
A sizeable portion of extremely cheesy lasagne, with a bit of bolognese sauce too. This is basically like being spooned by a plate of food. Split it with another person if you're not trying to reach REM sleep at the table.
Save room. This thing’s incredible.