Revisit: Al Di La in Park Slope, Brooklyn
I'd always liked the food at Al Di La, but realized that it achieves its effects through application of major amounts of salt, grease, and garlic, which is still the case. Nevertheless, the menu--which hasn't changed much over the years--remains excellent, with chef Anna Klinger at the helm.
The tripe appetizer ($13) comes in a crock, sided with a grilled toast and swimming in brick-red sauce. The stomach lining has been extensively de-skankified, and the flavor is rich and plain. This is authentic Florentine cooking at its best. On a more experimental note, a pool of polenta comes with a midnight sauce of deboned oxtail and cuttlefish swimming in squid ink ($10). It sounds shocking, but the flavor is spectacular, and the creamy polenta sets the sauce off spectacularly.
Every evening there's a special soup, and in our case it was a minestrone ($8) that provided a nice respite from the rich flavors we'd already encountered. The service at Al Di La is wonderful, and our waiter readily split the soup into two portions for us without being asked. He later did the same thing when we shared a glass of wine, our glasses having run dry during the final course.