Greenpoint's Anella Does an About-Face

The special of mackerel crudo was artistically arranged.

Almost two years ago, I reviewed Greenpoint newcomer Anella, a restaurant on the hip Franklin Street strip that replaced the legendary Queen's Hideaway, doubling the space, adding a wood-fired oven, and creating a beautiful garden out back reminiscent, in the summer months, of Tuscany.

The backyard garden remains a great place to while away a few hours in the summer.

I was none too kind. The pizzas, which were the heart of the establishment, could be wildly inconsistent -- charred on some occasions, doughy and undercooked on others. The sprawling, quasi-Italian menu annoyed me, too. While it made good on its promise of luscious homemade mozzarella, the liver puree on the crostini was pallid and under-seasoned, the fritto misto chronically under-fried, the egg on the asparagus cooked hard, thus depriving us of the runny egg's golden moisture.

Well, in the course of two years, one chef left and another arrived, and the pizzas were expunged from the menu. Many of the original signature dishes remained. I returned to Anella after hearing and reading several rave reviews. I'm happy to report that the restaurant is now on an even keel. No review should be set in stone, and Anella is a perfect example of a restaurant that starts out on extremely unsteady legs, but later learns to walk, and then run.

The menu is now admirably brief, with five apps, two pastas, five entrées, and a short charcuterie list, supplemented by a daily special or two. On the warm evening that an artist friend and I ate there, the special appetizer was a lovely oblong plate of (sustainable) mackerel crudo, drizzled with a mild pesto and decorated with basil leaves and blossoms. It was insanely beautiful, and great-tasting.

The flawlessly arranged asparagus appetizer

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