La Rina Meets Its Great Expectations

(Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
La Rina will leave you pondering pasta. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)

Great expectations can weigh down a restaurant, but there is also a special sort of joy when they are met, and an even greater sense of ebullience when those hopes are exceeded.

LaRina Pastificio & Vino (387 Myrtle Ave., between Clermont and Vanderbilt Avenues) is the new offering by the folks behind Aita, Clinton Hill’s standout Italian restaurant. This “mini-pasta” factory opened last month and I’d been waiting to go.

“The concept of our restaurant is based on fresh pasta, so we make fresh pasta every day,” said chef and partner Sylvia Barban. There’s also a lengthy wine list, carefully curated by co-owner Guilia Pelliccioni, and a counter with fresh pasta available for sale.

The negroni at La Rina (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
The gin and bitters balance each other. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)

Upon arriving, I was beckoned in by its pretty storefront and I was quickly happily nestled in the bucolic backyard. I spied a Negroni on tap, and although I was unfamiliar with its preparation, I ordered one along with a cucumber and watermelon salad as well as the spaghetti Aglio e olio e peperoncino.

My Negroni ($9) came swiftly and I was struck by its especially red hue. It was crisp and refreshing, a dry respite from our recent wave of humidity. A Negroni isn’t my usual drink, but after a few sips, I was tapping away on my phone to see the best way to making one.

(Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
La Rina’s spaghetti Aglio e olio e peperoncino (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)

My spaghetti came out and I was exhorted to smell it before eating. I found that a bit curious, but I understood as soon as I breathed in the smoky aroma. I loved that pasta against reason, as Dickens might have said.

The spaghetti Aglio e olio e peperoncino ($13) is composed of smoked spaghetti, chili, parsley, hazelnut, garlic and olive oil.The pasta is served al dente, and each chew is marked by slight heat from the chili and crunch from the hazelnuts. This simple dish is stunning.

(Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
Cucumber and watermelon salad. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)

The cucumber and watermelon salad ($10) is marked by pesto, mascarpone, and dehydrated olives. The watermelon and cucumber are sweet and light, while the pesto and cheese provide depth and creaminess. The spaghetti Aglio is a perfect late summer dish, but alas, it’s almost Labor Day.

La Rina is a new, innovative Italian restaurant that you should be sure to try. Allow your hopes to get up, because I doubt you will be disappointed.

La Rina Pastificio e Vino
Address: 387 Myrtle Avenue, between Clermont Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue
Phone: (718) 852-0001
Try: The pasta.
Avoid: Nothing, but focus on the pasta.
Kids: They’ll love it.

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