Albano Ballerini,
one of the pioneers of Vanderbilt Avenue’s new culinary renaissance,
has opened a second outpost, Amorina Cucina Rustica, across the
avenue from his first idiosyncratic cafe, Aliseo Osteria del

The new place, done up in "Ballerini eclectic" (as
described by the owner), is a boutique-style pie place and more.

Ballerini, who opened his venture in March, says "our fantastic
pies are Roman style – thin crust with five different toppings
daily." Slices of the fantastic pie, created by pizza chef
Ruth Kaplan (pictured at left), an Aliseo patron and enthusiastic
home cook, might include artichokes and mozzarella; sundried
tomatoes, pesto and salami; or mushrooms, sweet tomatoes and

Every other week, Kaplan introduces a new "Will to live"
pie like the "Pizza alla Norma" – eggplant, ricotta
salata, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil or the "Carbonara"
with bacon, parmesan and a raw egg topping.

Eat your pie (slices and family-sized at lunch; individual-sized
only at dinner) or indulge in an entree of eggplant parmesan,
baked ziti, lasagna or rigatoni with olives and rosemary in the
funky dining room that bears Ballerini’s style stamp – vintage
wallpaper, tables covered in checkered cloths and enough chandeliers
to open a small showroom. (Ballerini says there are 12 different
styles of chandeliers dating from the ’50s to the ’70s.) He’s
even hung yellowing receipts on the walls from his family’s cafe
in the Marche region of Italy that date back to the ’40s.

Amorina Cucina Rustica (624 Vanderbilt Ave. at Prospect Place
in Prospect Heights) accepts cash only. The restaurant serves
lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays. Entrees:
$10-$13. For more information, call (718) 230-3030.

More from Around New York