Good Italian food and wine grow in Brooklyn


Above: The Bisci Verdicchio di Matelica was just one of the killer wines poured for me and BrooklynGuy by Albano Ballerini at his excellent restaurant Aliseo Osteria del Borgo in Brooklyn. Aliseo doesn’t really have a website (although it does have a FB). Trust me: just go there and ask Albano to bring you food and wine.

May is the most beautiful month in Brooklyn. When I visited with Tracie P, her gorgeous blue eyes sparkled in the springtime sunshine of Brooklyn Heights by the waterfront. And when I returned — alas, alone this time during my work week — for dinner with BrooklynGuy and Brooklyn Lady, I discovered that the sunny days of May and its temperate nights are ideal for fine wine and dining in this borough so often neglected by the gastronomically minded.


Above: This Colline Pescaresi 2008 Pecorino by Ciavolich was awesome. Originally from the Marches, owner Albano (an ex-fashion photographer) offers his patrons a tidy but impressive list of wines from the central Adriatic coast of Italy — probably the best representation of the Marches and Abruzzo I’ve seen.

I must confess that I loved everything about Albano Ballerini’s Aliseo Osteria del Borgo: the décor, the vibe, the food, and the excellent wine list. I can see why it’s become one of BrooklynGuy’s favorite haunts. Albano and chef Gustavo Fernandez seem to operate in perfect synchronicity and symphony.


Above: Handmade spaghetti alla chitarra tossed with herbs and fresh pistachios were off-the-charts good.

Who knows how many lives Albano has lived? He’s a real character (un vero personaggio) and an ex-fashion photographer who loves (and knows) great food and wine. When you enter his restaurant, you enter his world, you enter his stories, and you are bound (quite literally) to eat and drink well.


Above: Even something as simple as Gustavo’s grilled steak and pork loin was prepared and presented with such care and poetry that the experience (very reasonably priced) went from A to A+.

When I moved to Brooklyn back in 1997, there was no Al di là, Convivio, or Franny’s (these names will not be unfamiliar to anyone who watched Brooklyn’s culinary street cred grow in the late 90s and early 00s). Back then there was just Cucina on 5th Ave. (remember that joint?).

Albano is an amazing and ambitious gourmand and gourmet and a great host. His tidy wine list is probably the most interesting gathering of central Adriatic wines in this country.


Above: This 50% Montepulciano and 50% Merlot from the 2001 vintage was killer (and I do not use that term lightly where Merlot is concerned!). I’d heard of Serenelli’s wines but had never tasted them. I’d really love to taste the winery’s Rosso Conero (pronounced KOH-neh-roh btw).

Thanks again, BrooklynGuy and BrooklynLady, for hipping me to this excellent dining destination. Great stuff. Highly recommended.

Aliseo Osteria del Borgo
(no website)
665 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238-3831
(718) 783-3400

osteria del borgo