Sunday, May 17, 2009

Italian Birthday Dinner

Believe it or not, there was space at the bar for four at Po in Carroll Gardens at 8pm on a Saturday night, not an opportunity we were willing to pass up given our experience at the Red Rose two weeks ago.  Po is one of those reliable Italian restaurants where you know everything will meet basic expectations.  They didn't disappoint. 

I like the amuse bouche of charred bread topped with olive oily white beans, mostly because I like charred bread.  Soft shell crabs, a personal favorite, are currently in season, inspiring off-menu specials city-wide.  Po was no exception.  Our soft shell appetizer came lightly battered, pan-seared, and served atop spinach and julienned vegetables with a pink aioli.  

I ordered with linguine with clams, which is my definition of the ultimate in carb comfort foods.  My objection regarding Po's version has to do with moderation rather than technique.  They use pancetta in their sauce, and I'm a purist and would prefer the dish without.  But I could have dealt with the added meat if it had been added to the dish with a lighter hand.  Lardon-sized chunks of pancetta overwhelmed the dish, which was otherwise tasty, even if they substituted cockles (very tiny) for my personally preferred littleneck clams. 

My friend, enjoying a birthday, ordered oricchete with broccoli rabe and sausage, but this dish was a twist on the traditional, made with a spicy red sauce.  Her husband's spaghetti swam with an ample helping of boar bacon.  It was... bacony.  

Dessert was simple and seasonal: ricotta ice-cream with a sauce of strawberries and rhubarb.  Wines at Po are affordable and, of course, Italian. 

It may not have been the kind of meal you have dreams about, but it was good enough for carb-cravers looking for a quick fix. 

276 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

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