It was a warm night (though nice compared to some of the suffocating scorchers we’ve been having in the city) when we entered Aurora. The evening was approaching when we entered the Italian restaurant, located on Grand Street in the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so we headed to the outdoor garden area.
We took in the ivy-covered walls and mixed crowd of families and local 20- and 30-somethings, as well as the view of the city—the garden area opens out into downtown Williamsburg, giving a great look at the city streets, all the way to the Hudson from a few seats. As we got comfortable, my date, Jenn, and I sated our appetites with Aurora’s house focaccia, which had a lightly sweet taste from the light layer of carmelized onions on top.
As the sun set we each began our salads: Jenn had the watermelon salad, consisting of 1.5” squared cubes of watermelon, scattered leaves of basil and oil-cured olives as well as a sprinkling of feta cheese. It was an ideal summer salad—raw and refreshing. My salad also had an unusual combination of ingredients, with peach slices, mustard greens and scattered hazelnuts covered by sheets of prosciutto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It was amazing how the tart flavor of the perfectly ripe peaches brought out the light sweetness of the meat. I am definitely saving the recipe for the next barbecue. This first course was accompanied by a glass of dry Riesling, which accompanied it perfectly.
For the main course, with the sun down and the evening cooling off, I was ready for something a little warmer and got the special: spinach-noodle lasagna, served in a miniature ceramic (and still very hot) skillet. I let it cool while I sipped from my glass of Contado Aglianico that our server recommended. As requested, it was very dry with an intense flavor of blackberries and currants, and a full body—and balanced perfectly with the first bites of cooled, richly flavorful lasagna.
In its wine selection and food, Aurora emphasizes where in Italy they are from. Our server was able to offer interesting tips and facts about every menu item we asked about (from start to finish, the service was excellent). For the first week of every month, the restaurant even offers a regional prix fixe menu for $60 per person, which includes four courses as well as wine pairings for a different part of Italy each month (August will feature Sardinia). For those looking for a budget-friendly option, the restaurant also offers a prix fixe lunch menu for $20.
While I enjoyed my hearty lasagna, Jenn opted for a lighter option, ordering the cavatelli (a pasta about 3 cm long—looks a lot like gnocchi on first glance) with Sicilian almond pesto, basil and tomato.
For dessert, I went with a classic—the tiramisu. It came in a clear glass, which helped to appreciate the mix of espresso-soaked Savoiardi, cocoa and Marsala cream. It was one of the top three tiramisus I’ve had (and I’ve had a lot of tiramisu). Jenn continued the “light and refreshing” theme of her main course and salad, and went with the hazelnut-crusted lemon sabayon tart. It was also a worthy finish to a very satisfying meal.
We left the restaurant feeling rejuvenated and relaxed, like we had just enjoyed a meal with some old friends, or in this case, some new ones.
70 Grand St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211