Last night, some friends and I went to Anella for dinner and had a delicious meal. Hiring a new chef has really made a difference for this place. My friends and I had been there previously, and found the menu to be unfocused, and the food inconsistent, bordering on dangerous (one woman had been served very undercooked chicken in one of her visits). I am happy to say that every dish we ordered last night was tasty and well prepared.
For appetizers we shared roasted carrots with whipped ricotta and an order of mussels. The carrots were tender and sweet, and the house-made ricotta was so light and fluffy that it resembled a slightly creme fraiche. The mussels were served in a dutch oven and were so plump that my friend from Portland, MN commented that they were like "Maine mussels." The white wine and butter sauce they were steamed in was delicious, perfect for sopping up with Anella's house-made, but the briny flavor of the mussels was so good on its own that the sauce was almost superfluous.
For mains I ordered a special of short rib ravioli served with hen of the woods mushrooms and scallions. The pasta was chewy, and filled with savory meat that was almost creamy in its tenderness. The mushrooms were lightly crisped and matched well with the aromatic scallions and a light sauce. One friend ordered the house made pappardelle with pork ragu and bitter greens. She seemed to love the dish, and the bite that I tried was great. The sauce was rich and nicely offset by the bitter greens, but was used sparingly so that the dish was not as heavy as some pappardelles can be. Another friend ordered the short ribs and was similarly pleased. The meat was plentiful (a large chunk of boneless rib) and perfectly prepared to be very tender without being mushy. It was surrounded by braised red cabbage and pieces of blood orange or tangerine and tiny round potatoes.
Dessert was the only dish that we were slightly disappointed in. We split a chocolate bread pudding with buttermilk ice cream and toasted hazlenuts. The ice cream was deliciously semi-sweet and the nuts were perfectly browned and crunchy, but the pudding, while tasty enough, has a slightly spongy texture.
The service was good throughout. If our waiter was slightly oversolicitous it was probably because the place was sadly undercrowded. The only complaint we really had was with the music, some cheesy easy listening stuff. All in all, we were very pleased to see that the rumors of Anella's improvement are definitely worth listening to. I hope more food-minded folk check it out. It would be a shame to see such noble efforts go to waste.
222 Franklin St, Brooklyn, NY 11222
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