Today's Greenpoint, Brooklyn is a far cry from the heavily Polish enclave it was just a few years ago: as Williamsburg real estate gets gobbled up (or skyrockets in price), north Brooklynites are creeping ever farther northward, changing the character of a once-sleepy neighborhood. Still, the area's association with starchy, comforting Polish fare was still strong in my mind, so I was surprised on a recent visit to see so many different kinds of restaurants dotting the streets: Mediterranean, French, Thai.
Hunting for dinner, the spot that caught my eye was Adelina's Fraschetta Romana, a tiny Italian restaurant whose menu of hearty, vegetable-heavy dishes caught my eye when I walked by. My friends and I grabbed a table, ordered a bottle of wine, and set to work.
For starters, how about kale salad ($8), one of the stronger barometers for New York's endless supply of vegetable-savvy, Italian-ish restaurants. Adelina's version gave me a boost of confidence about the dishes still to come: tender ribbons of curly kale seasoned well with just enough bite, bathed in a bright lemony dressing featuring grated Grana Padano cheese. Crispy homemade breadcrumbs finished the salad, adding a welcome textural element.
Adelina's kitchen handled textures well in an appetizer of Arancini (3 for $6) as well, the golf ball-sized rice fritters had a thin, crispy shell that gave way to a creamy, well-seasoned interior. Fragrant, garlicky basil pesto filled some of the rice balls, while others had a tangle of chewy roasted mushrooms at their centers.
A plate of Eggplant and Ricotta Salata Penne ($11) made a worthy pasta option, with slightly al dente pasta dressed with soft vegetables and tangy cheese. The dish was ever so slightly underseasoned, but still satisfying.
Adelina's offers a handful of mostly vegetarian pizza fritta, or individual fried pizzas. A pizza with fresh ricotta, red onion, and oregano ($10, pictured at top) was crusty and well-seasoned, with flavorful toppings, but got a little greasy as it sat on the plate. I liked the idea of fried pizza, but couldn't help wishing I was eating a crispy, thin-crusted pizza hot out of the oven. Still, Adelina's gets some props for doing things a little differently.
The solid, comforting Italian food being served up at Adelina's isn't likely to be the most memorable food you'll ever eat, but its diverse, vegetarian-friendly menu offers plenty of affordable and appealing options good for sharing along with a bottle of wine.