Time Out New York / April 12-18, 2007
Best new pizza joint
Baci & Abbracci
Other nominees: Cronkite Pizzeria and Wine Bar, Krunch Pizza Bar, Lucali, Pasita
Perhaps as old as the oven itself, NYC’s pie wars continue to burn, with plenty of spots opening in the past year. But among such heavy hitters as Cronkite and Krunch, you selected an off-the-beaten-path restaurant as your champion. Baci & Abbracci’s Neapolitan-style pies merit the trip on the L: Still molten from the wood-burning hearth (from Naples, natch), these thin-crust discs feature a slightly chewy base and a balanced ratio of cheese, crust and toppings. The crowd-pleasing Margherita (tomato sauce, house-made mozzarella and fresh basil) is redolent of smoke and gorgeously charred, besting nearby competitor Fornino’s version. And the menu’s 14 other renditions — featuring wild arugula, prosciutto di Parma and truffle oil — make narrowing down difficult. One no-brainer: ordering delivery on a snowy night, a service that B&A provides all year. 204 Grand St between Bedford and Driggs Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
New York Magazine / Aug. 5, 2006
Baci & Abbracci
Patrons of this casual, low-fanfare eatery can bank on a warm welcome, if not the kisses and hugs promised in the restaurant’s name. The decor is inviting, too, with rustic tables, a wood-burning pizza oven, marble countertops, and Italian tilework. Balancing confident panache with unpretentious ease, B&A isn’t edgy or superhip and doesn’t strive to be. The kitchen favors solid, well-crafted renditions of antipasto, pasta, and pizza, including the welcome familiars linguini with clam sauce and four-cheese pie (quattro formaggi). Antipasti, served in generous, easy-to-share portions, focus on fresh vegetables and shellfish, and set off richer sauced dishes like pasta with fennel in cream sauce and the visually ravishing violette di Parma, jewel-toned red beet gnocchi in cheese sauce. But pizza is the high point here: With crusts that are tender, chewy, and crispy in all the right places, these pies boast decision-defying toppings like smoked mozzarella, pancetta, and caramelized onions, and fresh bufalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and arugula. Lucky locals say that this newcomer is sure to give the now-established Fornino, which opened in 2005, a hearty run for its well-beloved pie. Mangia bene, Williamsburg.
— Nancy Davidson
Weekend brunch features frittatas and eggs Benedict along with eggs to order and a breakfast pizza, topped with tomato, mozzarella, egg, and diner’s choice of ham, sausage, or smoky pancetta.
Lattuga alla Trentina salad, $9; Baci & Abbbraci pizze , $13; verdure ripiene, $11
Go Brooklyn / Aug. 5, 2006
Billyburg’s Baci & Abbracci has delish menu and garden
Blowing kisses: At Baci & Abbracci, the traditional margherita pizza (top) and sliced trout covered in sliced white almonds (below).
By Tina Barry
for The Brooklyn Papers
It’s that time again: My daughter has left for camp. My husband and I will miss her, of course, so we shared a moment of silence before opening a bottle of wine and deciding where to have dinner.
It wasn’t difficult to narrow our choices down to Baci & Abbracci in Williamsburg. With a name that translates to “kisses and hugs” in Italian, and a lush outdoor garden to while away a late supper, it seemed an apt spot for two suddenly free adults to enjoy one another.
We walked through the ristorante’s polished dining room before settling at a table in the garden. Inside, the decor is swankier than most Billyburg hangouts with curvy wooden chairs and shelves of backlit wine bottles.
The restaurant’s patio is a simply decorated area with a wooden fence and a tier of potted blue hydrangeas. There is no music in the garden, so we could hear each other easily. A cat, perched on the fire escape of a nearby building, voiced an occasional plaintive meow and a few muffled car honks sounded as if the traffic was miles – not yards – away. It’s a blessedly serene way to dine.
The owners of this new ristorante are brothers Paolo and Carmine Cappiello, with partner Rocco Cadolini (who owns Roc in Tribeca). The brothers are as hip as their patrons: Paolo bald and sporting a soul patch; Carmine in a chocolate brown T-shirt with the eatery’s logo. Both move about the dining room and garden, welcoming newcomers, stopping to see if customers are enjoying their meals and pouring wine.
“The food,” says Paolo, “is mostly Tuscan with a little Sorrento [where the brothers grew up] thrown in.” The partners, who opened their eatery in April, hired chef Franco Migliorine to create the menu and oversee the kitchen, with Sorrento native, pizzaiolo Francesco Mastelione making magic in the wood-burning oven.
Migliorine’s preparations are light, but each dish is boldly flavored and simply plated to showcase fine ingredients. He has an affinity for ragus (the long-simmered meat sauces); there are three on the pasta section – as well as a number of gutsy noodle dishes. The penne was cooked al dente (an ideal, just this-side-of-chewy tenderness) and topped with a pungent, creamy-yet-weightless anchovy sauce dotted with rich black olives. It may sound like sodium overload, but the saline taste was oceanic, like a mouthful of seawater, not like someone went wild with the saltshaker.
His lovely antipasti of stuffed vegetables contrasted robust notes with a delicate, breadcrumb topping. One large mushroom cap, a small eggplant half, a chunk of zucchini and a piece of red pepper cooked down to a mousse-like jam, were topped with just a spoonful or two of moist, crunchy, slightly garlicky bread crumbs. The topping added to – not distracted from – their earthy vegetable bases. The delicate appetizer needed nothing more than a dab of Migliorine’s piquant, chile-brightened tomato sauce to enliven the dish.
Tuscan cooking is known for its use of thyme, sage, tarragon and rosemary, as well as its fine-roasted meats. In the succulent “stracotto di maiale,” a hefty roasted pork loin chop met its match when teamed with the deeply fragrant rosemary. There are three elements to the dish: the crusty-edged meat infused with the herb, a bit of rosemary-redolent brown sauce and a few creamy triangles of polenta. After taking one bite and inhaling the fresh aroma of the sauce, I knew the chef had probably cooked the dish a million times and still took pleasure in its unbeatable pairing of sweet meat and piney herb.
Mastelione’s “Baci & Abbracci” pie, topped with the perfectly harmonious trio of smoked mozzarella, pancetta and caramelized onion, is reason enough to visit the restaurant. The crust is thin but has enough heft to award a bit of chewiness. The combination of the cheese, enhanced by the wood smoke, the tender, salty ham and sweet onions, made it nearly impossible for us not to polish off the entire, beautifully charred serving.
The caramelized orange is one of those non-desserts you order when you’re stuffed but still want something slightly sweet to finish the meal. Refreshing slices of the fruit are cooked in simple sugar syrup and served topped with slivers of orange rind.
Beneath the slightly sweetened whipped cream on the “torta della nonna” is a thick tier of pistachio pudding perched on a crisp crust. While Migliorine’s grandmother’s pastry appeared to have all the buoyancy of an encyclopedia, it was light, delicately flavored, and like all dishes that preceded it, melded tastes harmoniously.
By the end of our meal, we were a little giddy – weeks with no kid to worry about is no small thing. And, yes, a couple of glasses of wine only added to the evening’s pleasure. So we fell for Baci & Abbracci’s charms. What can I say? It’s hard to be neutral about a place that means “kisses and hugs” and finds so many ways of giving you just that.
Baci & Abbracci (204 Grand St. between Driggs and Bedford avenues in Williamsburg) accepts cash only. Entrees: $14-$24. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily. Brunch is available from noon to 4 pm on weekends. For reservations, call (718) 599-6599.
www.sheckys.com / Aug. 2006
Baci & Abbracci
204 Grand St.
(Bedford and Driggs Aves)
Remember when Williamsburg was filled with Italians, and not hipsters? Neither do we, but this charming restaurant and bar is taking the neighborhood back to its Italian roots. baci&abbracci toes the line between casual and fancy, making it equally appropriate for dinner with the folks or a few laughs with friends. Small tables fill the dining room, which also boasts a small bar, while a backyard area is an enticing escape. Your first order of business: Ordering a Peroni or glass of Italian wine. Then dig into belly-warming dishes like calamari, red beet and goat cheese gnocchi, and wood-fired pizzas. As delicious as the food is, perhaps baci’s greatest asset is its exceedingly friendly staff, who doled out free pints to patrons after an Italian World Cup victory.
Time Out New York / June 1-7, 2006
Baci & Abbracci
204 Grand St between Bedford and Driggs Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-6599). Subway: L to Bedford Ave. Mon-Thu, Sun noon-midnight; Fri, Sat noon-1am. Average pizza: $12. Average main course: $14.
Though its name means “hugs and kisses” in Italian, Baci & Abbracci carefully balances its grandma-style Italian rusticity with a Euro-chic sensibility. Subtle architectural touches, like saucer-shaped light fixtures and a chrome-furniture-filled back garden, lend the casual eatery a modern, space-age look. The old-world influences pop up in the kitchen. The bulging wood-burning oven (imported from Naples) evokes the homeland, and Sorrento native Francesco Mastellone tosses the pies. In addition to pizzas, the menu includes classic dishes like sauteed calamari and veal milanese. We especially liked the polpa e patate appetizer, meaty hunks of octopus and boiled potato slices tossed with slivers of zesty raw garlic, olive oil and plenty of parsley. We also enjoyed a sauceless pizza topped with chewy smoked mozzarella, strips of mild pancetta and caramelized onions. Unfortunately, the crust lacked the crispness of a perfect thin-crust pie. A dessert, torta di nonna, with custardy sabayon, chocolate-cream piping, and crushed, toasted pine nuts and pecans, was named for — you guessed it — grandma. — TONY