Culinary Confluence.

Nearly a year ago to the day, I wrote about some new developments in my section of Bed-Stuy, and since then, there’s been a veritable explosion of food-and-drink business in the neighborhood. Within a few-block radius, there’s a great coffee shop, a lovely café with solid fare, a tiny sliver of a Cuban restaurant, and a Vietnamese sandwich place, all just around the corner from my apartment. Best of all, though: That bakery I talked about finally opened, caddy-corner to two—count ’em, two—sit-down restaurants. Less than a minute from my door. Cue the squealing.

Though it’s impossible to overstate my excitement at this turn of events, it took me a little while to get across the street to try them both out. (What can I say? Bad habits are hard to break.) This weekend, the confluence of time and money was finally in my favor, and on Sunday, when the recent heat wave broke, dinner on the patio at Italian resto Sud sounded like the ideal way to celebrate. We quickly ordered two glasses of wine, and they were delivered just as speedily, along with a complimentary dish of olives and a bowl of bread—almost as if someone told the management that the way to my heart is through carbs and booze. In other words, my kind of service.

By the time the waitress came back to recite the night’s specials, we’d already decided on our order. The crostini with taleggio and apricot had caught my eye on first glance—really, anything with taleggio is basically the equivalent of human catnip, so it wasn’t a tough call. The cheese itself was on the mild side, which couldn’t quite stand up to the combination of sweet preserves and heavily toasted bread, but that hardly mattered. There was a slight breeze in the air, I had a glass of wine in hand and pasta on the way, and it would take me minutes, if that, to get home. Under those circumstances, I’m happy to forgive a minor quibble or two, and considering the fact that we cleared the plate in the blink of an eye, anything else would be blatantly hypocritical.

In anticipation of the carbo-loading to come, we decided that something green was in order as well; from the four classics listed in the insalate section, we chose the simple endive, apple, blue cheese, and walnut composition. The dressing could’ve used a bit more vinegar, but otherwise, this was a straightforward rendition of a standard dish—serviceable, but nothing fancy.

At my go-to Italian restaurant, I tend to overdo it on the appetizers, which always leaves me too full for more than a bite or two of my pasta; here, I got to the main course with appetite merely whetted instead of overwhelmed—a nice change of pace. As is his custom, the Carnivore ordered the pappardelle with ragú: It turned out to be lighter, made with ground beef and white wine, than the hearty short-rib version served at Fragole, and much better suited to a temperate summer evening.

Proving that we’re both creatures of habit, I naturally gravitated toward the squid-ink pasta. Sud says tagliolini with calamari and tomatoes, Fragole says linguini with shrimp and spicy tomato sauce; I say “yes, please” to both, but, thanks to the seafood utilized (Fragole’s shrimp can be a bit iodiney) and a sauce so good I wanted to lick the plate, I have to give the advantage to my new neighbor.

Amazingly, even after ensuring that every last drop of that sauce had been properly relocated to my belly, I managed to find a smidgen of room for dessert. The selection was underwhelming—chocolate cake or panna cotta—but no matter: We’d decided on dessert, and dessert we would have. By that point, though, my already-limited photography skills had born the brunt of the food coma, and the resulting blurry pictures did the berry-studded, raspberry-sauce-swathed custard a disservice—this loyally executed classic deserved better.

Sud’s tiny menu might be strictly by the book, but it’s hard to argue with Italian classics done right. Admittedly, I’m a bit biased—if a restaurateur has chosen to put down roots in my front yard, I will forgive any number of sins—but in the end, great pasta is great pasta, and that’s an positive addition to any neighborhood. No complaints here.
1102 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, New York

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