The translation supposedly means old table or old scale, in Italian. Not having a ton of experience with the language but lots of experience eating their food, I was really excited to try this place in Williamsburg. I had heard from a few friends that the owners are the super-friendly, hardcore Italian type, and they were pretty spot on with that description. Actually, this Williamsburg outpost is the sister restaurant to the original Antica Pesa, which resides in Rome. Random.
The interior of Antica Pesa is pretty big for a Williamsburg spot; the decor is really warm and sleek, with VERY dim lighting. I assume this is a good place for a date – especially when the owner of the restaurant walks by every now and then and calls you “bella”. Someone needs to remind your date that you’re beautiful, right? Even though I wasn’t there on a date, I wasted no time whispering sweet nothings to my food as it made it’s way into my mouth. Starting with the fresh bread, wine, and crispy eggplant with ricotta and parmigiana mousse, basil pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes. It may be tough to pronounce (Millefoglie di Melanzane e Ricotta) but it was a beautiful presentation, and a wonderfully light appetizer to start with. The lightly fried eggplant tasted like chips, and the mousse was so airy (yet cheesy). NOM.
Another awesome appetizer you may want to try: the Crudo e Bufala Croccante. Prosciutto di parma with warm, fresh mozzarella wrapped in filo dough. Creamy cheese, salty prosciutto, and flaky filo dough. Can’t go wrong.
Carpaccio di Anatra – house smoked duck breast with cannellini bean pate, asparagus, and balsamic glaze. This was way more delicious than I expected – the only downside was that the duck wasn’t very warm. I don’t think it was supposed to be, but it could have been a little warmer than it was. The combination of the smokey and sweet sliced duck, with the cannellini bean pate (which tastes basically like hummus) was a perfect combination. And carb-friendly!
Well so much for carb friendly. I mean, when you’re in an Italian restaurant you kind of have to throw that one out the window. It’s hard to resist pasta, especially when that pasta is in the form of carbonara. This one was cooked nearly perfectly (a little al dente for my taste), but the thick chunks of bacon, creamy sauce and black pepper..OHHH someone save me. They omit the peas, but instead they give you this cheese/mousse stuff on the side that you can mix in – I don’t remember what it was exactly, but I remember him saying something about egg and cheese involved – it made it extra cheesy and extra salty. I happen to enjoy a lot of salt, so I swirled in quite a few dollops of that stuff. Would definitely go back for just that.
Here’s something that might sound weird: I HATE ordering ravioli out at restaurants. Why? Because they give you literally 4 of them in a pool of sauce and expect that to fill you up. When I had ravioli as a kid, it was like, “let’s see how many cheese-filled medallions I can fit in this bowl without it cascading over the sides like a pasta avalanche.” Sorry, I just don’t understand where the ravioli shortage happened in NYC. Antica Pesa’s ravioli was very good, by the way; pecorino and parmigiano ravioli with creamy artichoke sauce, fried artichokes and mint – I just couldn’t justify it due to portions.
Normally I stick to tons of appetizers and a pasta dish when I go to Italian spots, but we decided to try the Oxtail since the owner and waitress made it a point to tell us how delicious it is. Oxtail isn’t my favorite meat, but I have to say this one was good. Tender, a little sweet, and a little heavy too – served with green beans and celery, the focal point of the dish is clearly the meat itself. YAY MEAT. Italians and Americans at least have one thing in common: eating to excess.
115 Berry Street
Antica Pesa Website: Link here