Room to Rome: Giant new Italian spot opens in Williamsburg

Three wise guys: Mario Riva, Sergio Riva, and AJ Bontempo, the owners of Ainslie, stand behind the bar.
Thomas Laurance

This space could be its own Little Italy!

An enormous new Italian restaurant in Williamsburg offers its visitors four distinct dining experiences. Ainslie Italian Wine Bar and Beer Garden, which opened in a former warehouse on Sept. 12, slices its space into a rustic wine bar, an expansive beer hall, a cocktail lounge, and a relaxing rooftop patio, which allows people to see the eatery in multiple lights, according one of its owners.

“Because of the size of the building, we felt like we wanted to give people multiple experiences — every room has a distinctly different atmosphere,” said Sergio Riva, who owns the space with Mario Riva and AJ Bontempo, along with three other eateries in Manhattan.

Costumers are greeted with a classic Italian wine bar when they walk into the space. The 90-seat area also features an open kitchen, complete with a giant wood oven for pizza.

Behind the kitchen is a giant beer garden, which is broken into two sections — a beer hall featuring communal tables, and an outdoor garden. The owners had to demolish a portion of the former warehouse to create the outdoor oasis, said Riva, but they managed to make good use of the materials.

Welcome: Ainslie’s front area features a 90-seat wine bar.
Thomas Laurance

“The roof was removed to create the outdoor portion of the garden,” Riva said. “All the beams that held the roof in space, we used those beams to make the tables in the beer garden.”

The bar offers 16 beers on tap, including selections from local craft breweries and a list of European brews, including an Italian lager Forst and the German helles lager Weihenstephaner.

On the second floor, above the kitchen, is an intimate cocktail lounge that resembles a private club. The space, which can be used for private events, is designed for more intimate gatherings, said Riva.

“We created a cozier and warmer feeling with a lot of fabrics, velvet, couches and coffee tables, giving it a living room feel,” Riva said.

Above the lounge, past a final set of stairs, is a rooftop bar that will be open during warm weather. Installing this area was a challenge, said Riva, because the original warehouse had a sky light bay every 20 feet, so the roof had to be completely redesigned.

Swank: The second-floor cocktail lounge at Ainslie is an intimate space for private gatherings.
Thomas Laurance

The different areas are not cut off from each other, and there is easy flow between them.

“We wanted to create an environment where everyone could see each other and interact,” Riva said.

Each area also offers the same food menu, which focuses on wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and a variety of pub foods.

Ainslie [76 Ainslie St. between Keap Street and Union Avenue in Williamsburg, (347) 725–3400, www.ainsliebk.com]. Tue–Thu, 5 pm–2 am; Fri–Sat, 3 pm–3 am, Sun, 3 pm–2 am.

Reach reporter Chandler Kidd at ckidd@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–2525. Follow her at twitter.com/ChanAnnKidd.
Open container: The beer garden has both outdoor and indoor sections at Ainslie.
Thomas Laurance

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