I have a new favorite restaurant! O'Barone (360 Van Brunt St., between Sullivan & Wolcott St., 347-599-2758) has been open for three weeks now in the old 360 space in Red Hook and it's absolutely, positively wonderful. I arrived there with a whole crew - my almost-83 year old grandfather, who doesn't speak louder than a whisper, my mother, step-father, my 14 year-old sister and my boyfriend, PLUS my parents' neighbor, her daughter, whose 15th birthday was that night, and a friend of my sister's. Luckily we got there on the early side, so we pretty much had that whole place to ourselves. The waiter was excellent - energetic, funny, capable, easy-going, and dealt with the chaos that was us with aplomb. AND...the food was great.
The chef is Italian-Austrian, and manages to mix the two in interesting, creative and delicious ways. We started out with a bunch of salads, each substantial and flavorful. There was a salad on the menu made with head cheese that we were inquiring about, but none of us was adventurous enough to order it. Well, the chef sent the dish over anyway for us to try it. Yeah, the concept is kinda gross, but I actually liked it. Never ate it in my life, and don't think I'll actually order it, but it was good. Covered with slices of radishes and shredded carrots, atop a bed of arugula, dressed with a light vinaigrette, it was fresh and flavorful.
The salad I did order was the beet salad, which came with goat cheese and apples on a bed of spinach. This was fabulous, and well-proportioned, with enough goat cheese to go with almost every bite. Tangy, creamy, deliciousness with terrific beets. Yum!
My mom got the lentil salad which was mixed with potatoes and green beans and was served on a bed of mixed greens. I didn't get to try it, but she loved it.
My grandfather got a smoked tuna salad with barley, tomatoes & scallions with arugula that he ate up heartily and enjoyed. Everything was just so fresh and lovingly prepared, it was a pleasure to eat there.
For my entree I ordered the Tagliatelle with Mushrooms. Homemade pasta is the best, and this was great, with big slices of Porcini Mushrooms.
My boyfriend got the smoked salmon pasta which came with plentiful chunks of fish, tomato and orange & Yellow bell peppers. A perfect dish for a summer evening.
My sister chose the Spinach & Cheese Ravioli, also homemade, which were tender and flavorful, not oily or greasy, in a butter & cheese sauce.
My step-dad got the lasagna which was nicely browned on top with plenty of melted cheese. It was vegetarian, which I prefer, with a meat-less sauce so all the other delicate flavors can shine through.
There was also this dish below that I can't even remember - I think it's duck with a citrus-y salad on the side.
So, the food was great, and the chef even came out to check on us and talk food, his background (born in Milan, Austrian mom), and having a restaurant in the neighborhood. But the DESSERTS - they were glorious creations, and heavenly.
This chocolate concoction was incredible - it was a chilled, chocolately zabaglione-type custard, dusted with cocoa and accessorized with real whipped cream. It was light and fluffy but deeply chocolately and good on a hot night.
But my favorite favorite dish of the night was this lemon ice, served IN a whole lemon with the end of the lemon jauntily placed on top like a cap. It was tart and icy but smooth and delicate at the same time. The presentation was gorgeous and everyone ooohed and aaaahed when it came to the table.
They also have a pretty good wine list so you don't have to worry about bringing your own. So go there! It's great, they're great.