Catania sounded pretty promising when it opened in spring in a hard-luck space on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Three months later, it sounds like one of the best and most authentic Sicilian restaurants in town.

lambretta76 was blown away by eggplant parmigiana (“intensely good”); the broccoli rabe cartocciata, or stuffed roll; and bastardi affogati (cauliflower, sardines, olives, romano), which was “super salty, moderately fishy, and absolutely delicious.” Underscoring how hard he’s fallen for this place, which succeeds a series of forgettable, short-lived eateries at this address, he goes all­ caps on us: “DO NOT JUDGE THIS RESTAURANT BASED ON PREVIOUS ITALIAN RESTAURANTS IN ITS LOCATION!” Instead, he says, Catania belongs in the conversation with South Brooklyn’s best Italian restaurants, Sicilian and beyond: Queen, Frankies 457, Ferdinando’s, and the like. For JFores, who’s deeply familiar with the cuisine, the point of reference is Joe’s of Avenue U, the Sicilian old-timer in Bensonhurst, and Catania measures up. Among other things, he praises rigatoni alla Norma, distinguished by perfectly cooked pasta and eggplant with a base of very good marinara sauce, as well as sarde a becafico (roasted sardines stuffed with raisins, pine nuts, and breadcrumbs). “Get to this place,” he urges. “It’s an awesome little storefront that gives off vibes of a local Italian bar/restaurant. … Extremely Sicilian.”

One thing hounds love about Catania is its DIY ethos. “There’s a sign on the counter that says ‘All Homemade’ … They make basically *everything*,” writes kazhound—including preserved tuna, which takes a whole day. The work pays off, she says, in a big, splendid salad of green beans, tomato, hard-boiled egg, and scallion shavings, starring “that awesome tuna.” Also made in-house are breads, rolls, and pastries, including moist, delicious rum baba. Other sweets options include the Diplomatico, with custard layered in light, flaky puff pastry; and the iris al cioccolato, a rich and gigantic filled brioche that lambretta76 finds superb and even awesome—less a dessert and more “a chocolatey meal replacement.” (Ask for it warmed in the pizza oven.)

Cafe Catania [Cobble Hill]
193 Atlantic Avenue (between Clinton and Court streets), Brooklyn

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