Traditional meets contemporary Italian cuisine at Fabbrica restaurant and bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Chef, Simone Bonelli, pairs his love for traditional Italian food with his passion for cooking and turns out contemporary cuisine that is worthy of Roman deities.
The name, Fabbrica, means “factory” in Italian and pays tribute to Williamsburg’s history of being an active manufacturing area. To complement this theme, the restaurant’s main dining space is vast and open with lots of wrought iron, mimicking scaffolding that outlines the open kitchen and bar. There is also a mural spanning an entire wall, created by acclaimed Brooklyn artist, Olalekan Jeyifous, depicting the Williamsburg Bridge and Domino sugar factory. (Some of the largest companies started in Williamsburg including Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Astral Oil (later Standard Oil), Brooklyn Flint Glass (later Corning Ware) and the Havemeyer and Elder sugar refinery (later Amstar and Domino).
You can sit at a table to dine or at the large, communal, solid wood table to be at the center of the food preparation experience (as there is a long, open kitchen). Opposite the dining area, on the other side of the U-shaped bar, is a caffé. Here you can stop in for a quick Lavazza espresso or sit and enjoy the view with a coffee and pastry (made in-house) or a gelato.
Chef Simone, formerly at the 3 Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Italy moved to NYC in 2008 and earned his own 2 stars from the NY Times while at Perbacco. After that, he worked for Daniel Boulud at Boulud’s Mediterranean restaurant, Boulud Sud, where he had the chance to work with new spices and recipes. Simone uses organic meats, free range poultry and local ingredients, along with imported Italian products, to blend traditional Italian foods with a modern flair.
As I was there for a work function where Chef Simone performed a cooking demonstration to 65 NYC dietitians, I got to sample a few dishes. The Gnocchi ai Funghi was amazing. Perfect, soft, potato gnocchi were counterparts in an arugula pesto with seasonal mushrooms, Asiago, cheese and spicy honey. The famed Crème Brulee di Parmigianino is an excuse, in itself, to visit the restaurant. It is a parmesan cheese crème brulee with a caramelized coating of brown sugar and 20-years aged balsamic vinegar. If you’re wondering, this is served as antipasti, not dessert.
Other entrees include Braciola di Marale – wood fired Berkshire pork, chopped prunes, brussel sprouts, port wine; Rigatoni Integrali – whole wheat rigatoni, homemade sausage, shitake mushrooms, swiss chard, spring garlic, Parmigianino Regiano; or Branzino – grilled whole, roasted tomatoes, charred broccoli rabe and black olives. Or try a pizza from the wood-fired brick oven.
If you’re not salivating yet, the Lemon Roll dessert was a refreshing way to end the meal. Watching the large, thin layer of angel food cake, rolled into a log and topped with fresh kiwi and strawberry coulis was an extra treat. They also have a nice wine and cocktail list…including a spritz cocktail and Peroni on draft.
On par with the quality of the food was the service. The staff was exceptionally personable, attentive and helpful. Visit the waterfront in Williamsburg on a bright and sunny day…soak up the ambiance of a new Williamsburg. But one whose roots are still evident. At Fabbrica, you can enjoy modern Italian food, set on a backdrop of Williamsburg’s industrial heritage.
Fabbrica is located at 40 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249. Phone: 718-218-7045. Average cost of entrée: $25.00.
Theresa Gentile MS, RD, CDN is a dietitian at Maimonides Medical Center, adjunct faculty at CUNY Brooklyn College and counsels adults and children using sound science and holistic approaches to eating. Check out her website at www.theresagentilenutrition.com and like her on facebook www.facebook.com/TGNutrition.
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