CECCONI’S CELEBRATES TWO YEARS IN DUMBO ITS SPRAWLING SPACE SPORTING SINGULAR VIEWS OF THE EAST RIVER BRIDGES AND MANHATTAN
BY DAVID PORTER
Grasping that classic countryside Northern Italian served an olive’s throw from the East River had its inherent charms, Cecconi’s, on the ground floor of the renovated Empire Stores building in Brooklyn Bridge Park, opened two years ago in one of the fastest changing areas of the city. Its warm, 240 seat space is bigger than a Tuscan farmhouse, and features a massive eat in bar with a wood burning oven, a main dining room, and a sprawling outdoor patio, all with views of nearby bridges and Lower Manhattan. This is the first Soho House & Co. public restaurant in New York, and that parent company’s in house team was responsible for the interior construction.
In 1978, Enzo Cecconi, the youngest ever general manager of Venice landmark Cipriani, opened his namesake restaurant in Mayfair, London. Soho House & Co. took that operation over in 2005, and went on to open locations in Barcelona, Berlin, Mumbai, and Istanbul, with a Rome site in the works. In our hemisphere, in addition to New York, Cecconi’s has opened restaurants in Miami and West Hollywood.
Cecconi’s Dumbo features notably high ceilings, Murano chandeliers suspended from exposed wood joists, white tablecloths and candles, floor to ceiling glass windows and just about any spot therein is perfect for watching lights twinkle to our urban east. The interior blends Old World Europe with an upscale yet unpretentious city vibe: diners find themselves tucking in and imbibing with a crowd of Brooklynites, to be sure, but also in the know tri-staters and the brand of tourist that does a bit of research before setting off for a meal.
The amount of space is astonishing. In most city restaurants, meals are enjoyed cheek by jowl with other diners; at Cecconi’s, one can stretch out and relax. A curated soundtrack of chill out music contributes to the celebratory atmosphere.
In terms of marquee meals, there are perfectly baked brick oven pizzas for every taste, from buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and basil to black truffle, zucchini blossom, and goat cheese. In the mood for beef or ahi tuna tartare? They’re prepared tableside on an old fashioned bar cart, so you can watch your server crack a quail egg or slice fresh avocado. There’s also classic branzino with taggiasca olives and tagliatelle in a beef Bolognese, as well as a range of choices for vegetarians, including campanelle in a fresh basil pesto, ravioli with eggplant, or a side of brussels sprouts cacio e pepe. Cecconi’s also prepares gluten free dishes, including brick chicken with salsa verde and a green vegetable minestrone.
Of course, it’s sacrilegious to enjoy a meal, al fresco or otherwise, without the right wine, and the cellar here is impressive, with 19 Italian whites and 25 Italian reds on a list that is essentially a map of the winemaking regions of that country. If looking for something beyond bella Italia, there are selections from Argentina to Oregon and from Neustadt to New Zealand, so feel free to get comfortable and do some armchair travelling. If a bottle is more than is needed, wines by the glass are principally Italian and French, with a few stops in Napa and Sonoma.
Forget the phone, and your watch, as dinner lengthens, luxuriously (the way it should when a meal is the evening centerpiece), because lingering here is easy. And upon pushing a spoon into a plate of tiramisu or a bowl of pistachio gelato, one is reminded of a vecchio detto of one of Brooklyn’s most famous sons, Bushwick native Jackie Gleason: “How sweet it is!”
55 Water Street / 718.650.3900