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Mangia en espanol! New pasta spot has Spanish flare

Pasta partners: Piccante co-managers Luis Sanchez and Marta Benito show off the new Third Avenue spot’s shaved Brussels sprouts salad and fettuccine pasta with bolognese sauce.
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It’s not your nonna’s cooking!

A new Italian eatery that opened its doors in Bay Ridge last month offers hungry locals specialty homemade and slow-cooked pastas and sauces with one twist: it’s owners are all from Mexico or Spain.

Sunset Parker Luis Sanchez, who hails from Mexico City, opened Piccante, on Third Avenue between 72nd and 73rd streets, on Feb. 23, with Barcelona native and co-manager Marta Benito and chef Esteban Sarmiento, from Oaxaca in central Mexico. The trio may not be born-and-bred Italians, but they say their experience helped them develop the expertise to cook up tasty pastas.

“We all worked in Italian restaurants before, so it’s the industry that we know better,” Benito said.

The eating-house features a variety of homemade pastas, including gnocchi topped with spicy sausage and mushrooms in a pink sauce; fettuccine topped with eggplant, mozzarella, and tomato sauce; spinach and ricotta ravioli in brown butter and sage; and pappardelle with pancetta and green peas in a spicy tomato sauce.

For health-conscious Ridgites, there are gluten-free and whole-wheat spaghettis available, and those averse to pasta can chow down on one of the five risottos or four favorite entrée dishes, including grilled salmon with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes; pan seared chicken breast with mushrooms, marsala wine sauce, and roasted potatoes.

And it’s not all about the gravy. The team even showed off their Mexican roots with a grilled steak smothered in chimichurri sauce, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and pancetta.

To round out the meal, there’s also a selection of classic appetizers — like the caprese salad, fried and grilled calamari, bruschetta, and soups — plus favorite desserts, including tiramisu, cheesecake, affogatto, and warm chocolate cake.

Kid Ridgites can also order up simple spaghetti dishes — or fried chicken bites or mozzarella sticks — and there’s also a selection of lunchtime paninis available for adults, including the “Piccante,” made with spicy Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, and calabrian chilli. And locals can bring the whole family for weekend brunch, where they can swallow salads, egg dishes, sweet pancakes, and crunchy French toast.

So far, customers have so far been gravitating towards classic favorites, with many favoring the homemade rigatoni with Bolognese sauce, Benito said, adding that the eatery’s special touch makes it extra appetizing.

“It’s a classic, but slow-cooked, and really good,” she said.

The trio of owners hope to expand within the borough in the future, specifically to Downtown or Park Slope, Benito said. But for now, they’re happy to provide the area’s hungry locals with a whole new idea of Italian grub.

“It’s a different kind of Italian food that’s hard to find in Bay Ridge,” she said.

Piccante [7214-A Third Ave. between 72nd and 73rd streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833–3919, www.piccanteny.com.] Open Tues. - Sun., 11 am–11 pm.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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