(Photo: Kenneth Chen)
After opening what might be New York’s most idiosyncratic wine bar—Prospect Heights’ rustic Aliseo Osteria del Borgo—Albano Ballerini continues to remake burgeoning Vanderbilt Avenue in his own offbeat culinary image. Ballerini’s family has been in the food business since his grandmother opened a café in the Marche region of Italy, and in her honor, he’s transformed a Brooklyn slice joint into a boutique focacceria. Pizza chef Ruth Kaplan, an Aliseo customer and avid home cook whose puffy, free-form pies got her the Amorina gig, has a toppings repertoire that runs the gamut from classic (tomatoes and mozzarella) to creative (dried cherries, nutmeg, orange peel, and crème fraîche). Homey pastas like spaghetti and meatballs perfectly suit the cozy room, which has been outfitted with red-checked-cloth-covered tables, salvaged menu boards, and Ballerini’s grandmother’s yellowing invoices and receipts.
624 Vanderbilt Ave., nr. Prospect Pl., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 718-230-3030