Restaurant Review: River Deli


Though the River Deli may not serve pastrami, or for that matter, sandwiches at all, it's certainly not a bothersome detail when, elbows up at the bar, digging through a stack of sauteed eggplant, mushrooms, peppers and truffle oil ($9). Or when tucked into a window seat licking the remnants of a once fluffy, slightly bittersweet tiramisu ($6) from a mug. Named for the long empty Brooklyn Heights storefront it now fills, the River Deli is gorgeous -- all windows, dark wood, green tiles and deco lights. The bartender amiably chides while pouring a taste of white wine, "If you don't like that, not much in life will please you," and slips suggestions for dessert with a wink. Fresh asparagus comes bathed in béchamel and chewy prosciutto over crisp Sardinian flatbread ($9). A bit awkward in handling (fold it like a taco for ideal bite ratios), it's a decadent segue into handmade pastas. Chewy bites of Sardinian malloreddus alla campidanese ($10) come adorned with little globes of sweet sausage and tangy red sauce. A recent special called pasticcio alla carlofortina was comprised of trofie pasta (similar to strozzapreti, otherwise known as 'priest stranglers') tossed with warm tuna, pesto and loose skinned cherry tomatoes ($15). Grilled, butterflied orata ($19) and trays of antipasto whir out from the open kitchen, but even so, time is a bit slower in this corner of Brooklyn. Once coffee arrives and the creamy panna cotta ($6) becomes nothing but a couple of streaky spoons and an empty plate, the old clock above the kitchen reads ten to six, just like it did when the meal began.     

River Deli  
32 Joralemon St.
Brooklyn Heights
(718) 254-9200

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