The city was entranced in 1993 when Po opened in the West Village with Mario Batali at the stove. Diners loved his hearty pastas, white bean ravioli, the chilies and all that pancetta.
The restaurant is still going strong, sans Batali, who exited a few years back. Now the three owners — who continue to lure diners to their Cornelia Street location — have opened Po Brooklyn with an identical, rustic Italian menu.
The outside of the 42-seat eatery is painted “exactly like Po in the Village,” said owner Jonathan Casteel. “Same green wainscoting and French windows.” The inside is as simple as any Italian ristorante: red brick walls and white linen-covered tables, dark wood floors.
Since the June 15 opening, executive chef Lee McGrath has been tempting locals with his “Polpetta di Carne,” meatballs with tomato sauce and Asiago cheese (at right).
“Meatballs are suddenly trendy,” laughed Casteel.
The rest of the menu bares Batali’s “more pork, please” stamp with dishes like “Spaghetti all’Amatriciana,” which features “guanciale” (unsmoked bacon made from pig’s cheeks) with onions, chilies and tomatoes. There are also plenty of grilled dishes such as the guinea hen served with asparagus and scallion flecked “fregula,” the chewy, couscous-like pasta.
So, if you think this is just another Italian joint on Smith Street, you’re Po-ly mistaken.
Po Brooklyn (276 Smith St., at DeGraw Street in Carroll Gardens) accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Entrees: $18–$21. The restaurant serves dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday. Subway: F or G to Bergen Street. For information, call (718) 875-1980 or visit www. porestaurant.com.