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KEEP IT SIMPLE

Let them eat pie: Anthony's owner Sal Buglione serves a white pie and margherita pizza.
The Brooklyn Papers / Jori Klein

Sal Buglione wanted a pizza place that
would make his father, Anthony, proud. His dream was to drive
his dad to the eatery, point to the "Anthony’s" sign,
and say, "This is for you."



His father died three years before Buglione could make the dream
a reality, but the place radiates family life: Sal and his brother
Frank greet guests and his clan gathers in the dining room on
Sunday evenings to enjoy his mother, Lina’s, magnificent ragu.



Open since November, Anthony’s is doing a few things right. On
a recent Sunday evening after 8 pm, every table was full and
a group waited patiently at the door. They come for the warmth
of the Buglione family members, who welcome every customer with
genuine delight. The patrons visit for the light, vibrantly sauced
southern Italian dishes comprised of the freshest ingredients.
(Frank makes the mozzarella.) And they line up for the brick-oven
pizza.



And, oh what pies. The man shoveling out some of the best pizza
in Park Slope is "pizzaiolo" Bart Agozzino who earned
his pie-baking chops at the Trianon in Naples. Agozzino’s father,
Alfredo, built Anthony’s gas-fired brick oven.



The combination of the pie-man and that oven make for an ethereal
pizza. It’s not too big – about 10 inches – and sold whole; this
isn’t a slice joint. The crust is gently sprinkled with Parmesan
before it’s baked, which adds a delectable hint of salt to the
dough. It emerges from the oven crisp, slightly chewy yet delicate,
with smoky char-spots along its bottom.



Any old sauce and cheese would be helped enormously by such an
ideal base, but Anthony’s sauce tastes vividly of ripe tomatoes.
Just enough milky, creamy mozzarella is applied so it doesn’t
weigh down the works. Each pie is strewn with slivers of fresh
basil. It’s delectable right down to the bubbly, brittle collar
of crust.



If you crave a white pie, Anthony’s is the place to indulge that
yen. A bit of freshly made ricotta cheese tops the mozzarella
for a simple looking, yet richly flavored, treat.



A table of regulars who come on Sunday for Lina’s ragu, each
planted a kiss on her cheek when she visited their table. After
tasting it, I could understand their affection. Ragu is a traditional
Italian sauce made on Sundays and usually served as a late afternoon
family meal. There’s a variety of different meats that cook slowly
in the tomato sauce (Lina’s recipe includes meatballs, pork ribs
and "braciola") until they absorb the sweetness of
the tomatoes and the meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender. The
"braciola" (beef rolled around a savory filling) is
rich and garlicky; the spare ribs moist; but the meatballs are
too bread-y.



The sauce is poured over perfectly "al dente" ziti.



Instead of a waiter standing over your dish and grating fresh
Parmesan, a waitress plunks down a shaker. It’s all part of Anthony’s
"not fancy, just great food" ambience.



That casual, keep-it-simple attitude applies to the restaurant’s
decor as well. Buglione (a co-owner of the Nick’s pizza chainlet
in Queens) and his partners in this venture – brother Frank Buglione,
Joe Bosco and Louie Pagano – did a gut renovation on the former
Paradou space, including the outdoor garden area. Inside, they
bricked the walls, lined the room with wooden tables, placed
a small bar in the front and installed the brick oven in the
rear. Frosted white chandeliers add a soft glow to the room;
a huge glass wall that faces Seventh Avenue adds drama. As far
as decoration goes, there isn’t much, but it hardly matters;
with an ambience as cheerful as Anthony’s, accessories are irrelevant.



If you stick to the pizza and uncomplicated dishes like the ragu;
light, not too cheesy eggplant Parmesan; and terrific, tender,
garlicky baked clams, you’ll be happy.



However I would skip the slightly overcooked scallops, paired
with a mix of slivered carrots, asparagus and onions. Compared
to the rest of the meal, they were just okay.



One dish that packed a wallop of flavor was the chicken with
eggplant. Pieces of breast meat were flattened slightly and layered
with an eggplant scallop. Before crowning the meat, the vegetable
is baked with a thin layer of Parmesan and topped with a spoonful
of winey, caramelized onions that add sweetness.



Anthony’s serves two house-made desserts that, like the rest
of the menu, are terrific examples of classics done right. Cannoli
can be a boring, leaden dessert with a soggy shell and too sweet,
ricotta cheese filling. Here, the shell is so thin, it’s nearly
transparent and crackling crisp. Its filling is creamy, lightly
sweetened and studded with ground pistachio nuts. Tiramisu is
another perennial that has been on menus far too long. Again,
at Anthony’s, it’s surprisingly good: the airy layers of cake
soaked with espresso and mascarpone cheese are rich and pudding-like
without being heavy.



By January, there will be a "cheap but good," list
of international wines, Buglione says.



Anthony may not have seen his sons’ dream come true, but he’d
be proud of the place that bears his name.

 

 

Anthony’s (426A Seventh Ave. between
14th and 15th streets in Park Slope) accepts American Express,
Discover, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $9-$16. The restaurant
serves lunch and dinner daily. Sunday brunch will begin on New
Year’s Day and will be served from 11 am to 3 pm. For information,
call (718) 369-8315.


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