Classic Table: Al di La

Park Slope's favorite trattoria continues to charm

Al di La is Italian-Brooklynese for "always feels right for any occasion."

Right for a festive celebration, with plates of perfectly braised rabbit with black olives passed among a group of friends; right for Sunday brunch with visiting relatives; even right for a restorative solo lunch of sautéed mushrooms and greens over the creamiest polenta imaginable.

A grand Venetian glass chandelier crowns an otherwise rustic dinning room; its glow never fails to enchant.

The lilting phrase actually means "beyond." Chef Anna Klinger says the name nicely described the feeling she and husband Emiliano Coppa wanted to create with their cozy space and the Venetian cooking of Coppa's home: "Something out of the mainstream, and, literally, away–over the bridge," Klinger says.

The restaurant | Braised rabbit | Chef Anna Klinger | Tripe

The couple opened the restaurant in 1998, back in those hard-to-remember days when Brooklyn felt to many like a far-away dining destination.

The menu has evolved since then, but not too much. Klinger says if she changes too much, her loyal customers fight back. The rabbit, stewed tripe, homemade beet ravioli, liver and her otherworldly malfatti (green ricotta and chard dumplings swimming in brown butter and sage) have all been here since the beginning.

If you haven't tried them, now is the right time. No occasion necessary.