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Ferdinando's Focacceria Italiana Restaurant

151 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY - (718) 855-1545
Posted By Tes Rivera on 1/28/2013 3:30:00 AM
Ferdinando's is the oldest Sicilian restaurant in New York City. A visit there is a trip back in time to when the the block served as waterfront marketplace to the docks, Carroll Gardens, and the surrounding neighborhoods. Union Street stretches through Grand Army Plaza/Prospect Park; Columbia Street through Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. The restaurant has survived generations of radical change to the neighborhood (currently strollers and hipsters) by simply remaining true to its roots. They served spleen before spleen was cool. Ferdinando's is, and has always been, owned and operated by the same family. Frank Buffa, himself, greets visitors at the door. His staff is old school.

The panelles are heavenly, perfectly set off by the generous puff of fresh ricotta and grated Pecorino. You can count on the cold seafood salads to be fresh and well-balanced. I favor the polpo and frutti de mari. They're cooked perfectly and dressed in a bright vinaigrette. The pasta con sarde is reliable comfort food made with home-jarred sardines.

The dining room has seen lots of wear, but that adds to the charm of its rich architectural detail (probably why Scorsese chose it as a location in the Departed). Heirloom tomatoes grow in the courtyard garden. Enjoy nice weather under the grapevine-laden arbor.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Panelle Special
Frutti di Mare
Pasta con Sarde
Vastedda
Polpo All' Insalata
Caponatini
Rate this place
A Panelle Special is a small sandwich filled with flat chickpea fritters, fresh ricotta, and sharp cheese.  These are more snack-sized, but two could make a meal.
"A Panelle Special is a small sandwich filled with flat chickpea fritters, fresh ricotta, and sharp cheese. These are more snack-sized, but two could make a meal."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle





Cut in half, you can see the layers of fritter on the bottom.  The creamy ricotta actually makes a stronger impression than the fritters.
"Cut in half, you can see the layers of fritter on the bottom. The creamy ricotta actually makes a stronger impression than the fritters."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


There is also a version made with a potato croquette, equally tempting.  The tide of ricotta is extraordinary.
"There is also a version made with a potato croquette, equally tempting. The tide of ricotta is extraordinary."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


The short menu lists a treasure trove of Sicilian specialties we can't wait to try.  Click on the photo for a readable view.
"The short menu lists a treasure trove of Sicilian specialties we can't wait to try. Click on the photo for a readable view."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Carroll Gardens is not quite the Italian neighborhood it once was, but Ferdinando's remains from an earlier time.
"Carroll Gardens is not quite the Italian neighborhood it once was, but Ferdinando's remains from an earlier time."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle



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