I've been hesitant to write about Ferdinando's (151 Union Street, between Hicks and Columbia, 718-855-1545) because I like to think of it as my little secret, even though the likes of Martin Scorsese has eaten there and lots of people know about it, but it's just so damn good I can't help but sing it's praises. It will also always have a spot in my heart because I went here on the day I got my braces and my mouth hurt so bad I could barely eat. The waitress brought me my first rice ball and said it's what she gave her son when he got his braces because it's so soft and tender. Well, I'm happy to report that the Arancina Special is still as delicious as it was that first day I had it.
On this most recent visit I ordered the Rice Ball with meat and peas, covered in tomato sauce and cheese and topped with thick and creamy ricotta cheese. The mushy consistency of the rice is so comforting and the slight bite of the ground beef and peas fills things out. It's decadent and amazing and I could eat one every day.
We also got another Ferdinando's classic dish, a Panelle sandwich. A chickpea croquette topped with a gigantic dollop of ricotta cheese plus grated Parmesan on a big, fluffy roll. The Parmesan isn't as strong as I like, but this sandwich is tasty enough without the added flavor. I also took the top of the roll off and ate it open-faced as it's pretty large!
Even though I knew this was plenty of food, my boyfriend insisted on getting a pasta dish. We ordered the Pappardelle alla Boscaiola, hand cut pasta with fried eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. The pasta was fresh, and the tomatoes were large and plentiful, but I'm pretty sure the mushrooms were from a can. It was also a pretty greasy dish, with oil pooled at the bottom of the dish. Probably not the best dish to order. In the future I'll stick with tomato sauces or Parmigiana.
Wait, there's more! I know, it's crazy, but I often say I have an extra little stomach for desserts and I wasn't leaving Ferdinando's without a cannoli. They make the BEST cannoli! Seriously. The pastry part is crisp, the cream filling is thick and slightly almond & vanilla flavored and it doesn't have any extraneous chocolate chips or weird bits in it. It's pure and simple and perfect.