apparently still delicious after all these years (since 1904) I made it there for lunch on Saturday (they're closed on Sundays) for a really great meal. we stuck with many of the recs I found on this board, and also kept it simple with the snack-type stuff, and no entrees or pastas:
frutti di mare (very nice seafood salad with octopus and squid)
vastedda (spleen sandwich on a roll with ricotta)
panelle special (flat chickpea patties on a roll with ricotta)
arancina special (riceball topped with sauce and cheese)
the restaurant itself is beautiful; just a wonderful decor that seemed well-preserved, classy and not what I expected at all from the outer experience. I was almost expecting something airy and bright like a cafe, but it actually felt like a nice compact restaurant. it was saturday for lunch so it was packed with families and other large groups, and really pleasant.
the seafood salad was nice; very simply dressed, great texture and done-ness on each piece; I'd recommend just getting the octopus, or polpo, next time since the some of the squid might've been on the tough side. the vinaigrette went very well with the small crusty breads we were served.
the panelle special was not what I was expecting at all, and the vastedda for that matter, in terms of the sheer amount of ricotta on the sandwich; just a beautiful light fluffy layer. both sandwiches were undersalted and the spleen was great; tasted boiled, and then sliced, and actually quite earthy and organ-y. I almost preferred it over the panelle sandwich just because it was a bit more assertive; the panelle sandwich was great, but all the flavors were a bit too light and definitely starchy, but not in a way that really provided any contrast between the three ingredients; I might've enjoyed the panelles on their own, lovely flat pancakes and very much smooth, as opposed to chunky like a fritter. every table seemed to have an order of croquettes on the table; that might be another choice for next time. the rice ball was out of control; a large beautiful ball of rice topped with a thin tomato sauce and mozz; it seemed almost excessive but for our group of 3, there was more than enough to go around, especially with everything else we had. nice flavor, very light and airy, nice crust, just a phenomenal experience for an arancina.
anyway, the meal was incredibly inexpensive and I highly recommend going there. the service was great and we had a very relaxed meal without feeling rushed. I haven't ventured to any of the entrees but there are almost seems to be a consensus of just sticking with these snack-y type things; probably anything fried means you're getting something fresh since the antipasti and pre-prepared food at the front of the restaurant didn't really look too wonderful, esp. the limp eggplant slices sitting in water. but if anyone can recommend any primi or secondi, I just might give it a go.
Ferdinando's hours are Monday to Thursday, 11-7 and Friday and Saturday, 11-10.