A neighborhood favorite, the eatery has been serving up classic, old-fashioned Italian fare, like crispy pizzas, handmade pastas, and seafood, since the early 1990s. Having spent the last three days gorging on fried Oreos and zeppoles at the 18th Avenue festival, we knew it was time to detox with a different, more upscale sort of feast.
But despite its status as one of the Bensonhurst’s finest Italian restaurants, the elegant but casual eatery does not feel pretentious. Il Colosseo’s prices, like its pies, appear not to have changed in 25 years. Its personable staff and cozy atmosphere also made us feel immediately at ease.
First we ordered the fennel salad ($8.50) and the tricolored salad ($6) — made with rucola, endive and radicchio — and watched as our waiter tossed the leaves in a shiny olive oil vinaigrette right in front of us.
The complementary rustic bread, which is from Sal & Jerry’s down the block, is exceptional — sturdy and crusty on the outside, and sweet and crumbly on the inside — and made a great partner to the crisp, leafy starters. But be careful not to overdue it on the loaf, because it can be quite filling and the main course is well worth the wait.
Il Colosseo has a robust selection of pizzas, ranging in price from $7 to $14, but we decided to keep it simple and ordered the Margherita pie ($8), and were glad we did. A few high-quality ingredients come together harmoniously in a medium, wood oven-charred crust, with a tangy sauce, ample cheese and large sprigs of fresh basil.
We joined the meal with a luxurious glass of red wine ($5), and imagined we were feasting the way the Sicilians might have back in 17th Century Palermo.
Il Colosseo, 7704 18th Avenue, (718) 234-3663. Open 12pm until 11pm daily.
Food Stuffs is a column exploring the gastronomic landscape of Bensonhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods. Each entry will cover anything and everything remotely related to food. Because here in Bensonhurst, food is always news.