When the owners of Al Di Là Trattoria, the highly popular eatery on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, decided to open a second restaurant, they looked to Washington Avenue.
"Something about that strip reminded me of way back in the day, when we opened here,” said Anna Klinger, Al Di La’s chef, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Emiliano Coppa. "There’s a sense of community—and the people there have been very supportive and welcoming.”
So when, after several years of looking, announced it was closing, they seized the storefront near the corner of Lincoln Place, overlooking a few obstacles.
“This was totally the wrong time for us to do a restaurant,” said Jacob Somers, Al Di La’s manager and co-owner of the new venture. “I have a (newborn) baby at home, Anna has a baby on the way, but it’s the right place at the right spot.”
The restaurant, which doesn’t yet have a name but won’t be Al Di La II, is going to also serve Italian cuisine, but with some changes.
“It’s going to be a little bit low key, in some ways. I don’t really consider us a fancy restaurant, but it’s going to be a little bit more relaxed,” said Klinger during a sit-down interview earlier this week.
It will also have more lower-priced options, especially during lunch, with a flexible menu. “We’re going to loosen the parameters a little bit so there will be a little bit more room to play,” Klinger said.
Klinger, who grew up in Chappaqua and studied art history and anthropology at NYU before training under Roland Passot at La Folie in San Francisco, will head both kitchens. Felipe Rodriguez will continue overseeing the cooking at Al Di Là, while longtime employee Carla Martinez, will take charge at Washington Avenue.
Some of Al Di Là’s offerings, such as the individual lasagnas and the tagliatelle al ragu will be offered at the new spot, but the Washington Avenue menu will be simpler, with fewer meat dishes and more salads and pastas. Plus, there will be some new offerings, such as a roasted pork shoulder sandwich and macaroni and cheese for the kids, Klinger said.
The restaurant, located at 791 Washington Ave., will have 36 seats inside and 38 in the back garden. Klinger said they expect to be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and probably 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends, to offer brunch.
Somers, who is overseeing the renovations to the spot with Coppa, said they hope to open their doors Dec. 10.
As for why they’re embarking on this new venture, Somers said after 13 years on Fifth Avenue it was time to spread their wings.
"We’d like to be able to challenge ourselves in new ways,” he said, “change things up a little bit."