The charcoal-gray colored (corner) neighborhood eatery remained a mystery to me the first year that I lived in the Stuy. The only thing that I knew about this spot was that it was always crowded (I’d seen small mobs of people waiting outside in the warmer months on several occasions) and that it was decorated with funky artwork on the outside. That’s it. After driving, riding, and/or walking by it more time that I can remember, I decided to see what all the hype was about one evening while hanging out with a friend visiting from out of town. We stopped by during the late Saturday evening rush and were informed that the wait was approximately one hour – no thanks. Before turning to exit, I attempted to look around and asses the size of the size of the eatery, but was distracted and turned off by the large mob of people waiting to be seated – and the even louder group of patrons seated at the bar. That was about three, if not four years ago and I hadn’t been back since.
I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Italian food (pasta is NEVER my go to on the menu), but I can fuck up some (good) pizza. When I decided to revisit this restaurant I did some research and learned that this neighborhood eatery has been a staple for quite some time – attracting patrons from all areas of BK as well as patrons from outside of the borough. Apparently the cuisine served here had a very good reputation, garnering several (very impressive) write ups in notable publications such as the New York Times, Zagat, Huffington Post, and Thrillist (http://www.saraghina.com/restaurant/press/) *Interest piqued*. I kept the resto on my radar and told myself that I’d re-visit it the next time a friend requested a lunch date. Low and behold that opportunity came last month when a girlfriend (visiting from Sri Lanka) penciled me in for her visit and requested we connect on my side of town for lunch. Saraghina it was!
Saraghina, http://www.saraghina.com/, is an Italian eatery – bakery, restaurant & pizzeria, and tapas bar – located in the Bed Stuy section of Brooklyn, best known for their wood-burning oven Neapolitan pizza and coffee. The outside of the restaurant – is wrapped in dark charcoal-gray wood paneling and painted with bright white inspirational words and artwork by renown artist, Shantell Martin (http://shantellmartin.art/work/saraghina/).
The second I walked into the restaurant (via the main entrance on Lewis Avenue), I felt an immediate sense of comfort and calmness. The welcoming rustic country style decor felt incredibly cozy – giving me a complete night and day experience compared to my previous visit. I hadn’t even stepped foot into the actual dining area when I decided that I return for a date, brunch, or lunch/dinner with family.
To my right was a fully stocked bar with a few baked goods (prepared in the adjoining bakery) placed on top in enclosed mesh domes. Directly next to that was the cutest coffee bar, complete with a vintage industrial espresso machine. Unlike my initial visit , Saraghina wasn’t bustling with large groups of loud happy-go-lucky drunk people. This time around the vibe was more my speed – chill. Midweek (Wednesday afternoon to be exact) lunches are the best time to patronize restaurants that you’ve been itching to try for the first time. The crowds are minimal, the service is impeccable, and you’re allowed the luxury of staying as long as you please because business is slow-paced.
Within a few seconds of my arrival a waiter greeted me and escorted me into the dining room for a seat of my choice. The space was brightly lit with natural lighting pouring in from the wall of windows on the left side of the room and was furnished with quirky mismatched pieces. Guests were seated on rusty white and metal folding chairs and/or wooden benches as they enjoyed the restaurant’s cuisine set atop solid rectangular and circular wooden tables. Chalkboards with Saraghina drink and food specials and large signs adorned the walls, providing additional rustic decor.
I opted to take a seat at the wooden bench and table on the left side of the dining room so as to have a clear vantage point for my girlfriend’s arrival. Pleasantries were exchanged and the ordering began.
Our dining experience began with Saraghina’s best selling cocktails – Spritz Alpino – Made with Pasubio Amaro, Cardamom, prosecco, soda, and bitters. I found it to be refreshingly good, but weak. I wasn’t looking to get sloshed by any means, but I would’ve appreciated a little kick. When you visit, I recommend trying this drink, but you may have to chase it down with something a bit stronger if you want to get a buzz going.
We skipped the option for apps and went straight for the entrees because time was of the essence. She ordered the Tagliatelle Al Ragu – made w/ house-made tagliatelle, Berkshire pork, and beef ragu. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not exactly a pasta lover and didn’t have a taste for pizza (that day), so I ordered a sandwich instead. I ordered the Spiced Chicken Sandwich – made with spiced fried chicken thigh, Napa cabbage slaw, and Kewpie mayonnaise on a freshly baked brioche bun (from Saraghina’s bakery) & served with a side salad of fresh greens, radishes, and kalamata olives, dressed in oil and vinegar.
I didn’t sample my friend’s pasta dish, but quickly learned that it wasn’t to her liking. She barely ate it noting that the noodles were EXTREMELY al dente and underwhelming. Even with the presence of pork the dish was almost flavorless – with only a minimal amount of spices found in the sauce. Unlike my friend, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. The perfectly seasoned chicken was served piping hot on a soft, lightly toasted (brioche) bun – and was DELICIOUS. The cabbage slaw was an excellent compliment, providing a contrasting crunchy, yet soft textural element to the sandwich. The only thing that would’ve improved the sandwich would’ve been the presence of a spicy dill mayo. I’m a condiments girl, so I appreciate flavors in every aspect of my meal – including in my sandwich.
Neither my dining companion nor I tried the pizza (as we weren’t in the mood for it), but I noticed the two ladies lunching next to me feasting on Saraghina’s top selling pizzas (pictured above), so I asked them to describe the flavors as they devoured it slice after slice. They described the crust as being the perfect balance of crunch and soft, the sauce was seasoned to perfection, and the fresh mozzarella and toppings were exquisite – I took their word for it.
When I return, I sample the pizza, a different cocktail, as well as some of the freshly baked goods the next time I’m in the mood for Italian cuisine, solid & friendly service, and chill vibe.
UIB Eats Corner
Top Sellers on the Menu: Salsiccia Pizza (made w/ San marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, house-made heritage pork sausage, kalamata olives & basil) & Napoli Pizza (made w/ San marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, fresh garlic, Sicilian anchovies, kalamata olives, oregano, and basil)
Bartender’s Best: Saraghina Bloody Mary (Suborganic Hananero Vodka & tomato juice)
UIB Rec’d Dishes & Drinks: Spiced Chicken Sandwich & Spritz Alpino
I recommend visiting for midday/late lunch or an early dinner (to avoid the crowd). Should you opt to visit on the weekend in the later hours, I’d strong advise you to make reservations ahead of time because this well-known restaurant draws a large crowd!