AINSLIE IS NOT ONLY CHEF JOHN DELUCIE’S FOURTH SIMULTANEOUS CITY KITCHEN IDENTITY, IT SPORTS ONE OF THE LARGEST RESTAURANT FOOTPRINTS IN THE BOROUGH
BY TIA KIM
Though rent varies widely by neighborhood, restaurants can expect to pay an average of $140 per square foot for a lease in Brooklyn, a figure that has risen between 2% and 4% each year over last few decades, though neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Green point have seen seismic upward shifts since the early aughts. Both that practical financial reality and the fact that most borough restaurants have to t into existing brownstone sized footprints, and you have, perforce, a relatively compact, often railroad layout buildout proposition as a chef/owner.
Unless you start from scratch, which is what South Village Hospitality executives Sergio Riva, Mario Riva, and AJ Bontempo chose to do for Ainslie, which opened in September. They also elected to think big. No less than a 10,000 square foot and 340 person capacity multilevel Italian wine bar, beer garden, restaurant, and rooftop venue in Williamsburg, this was the former home of the WM Cabble Excelsior Wire Manufacturing Company, and completed in the 1870s. It is the last remaining component of a manufacturing complex that formerly occupied the whole block one that encompassed a warehouse, factory, machine and blacksmith shops, and offices.
The group behind Manhattan’s Carroll Place, Osteria Cotta, and Follia, South Village Hospitality came armed with a savvy eye for what to accentuate in a historic building. One of the features attracting its execs was that the factory was designed with windows and scissor skylights that let manufacturing process heat escape (a 1910 re t adding even more, to a final of 120 skylights). Ainslie restoration kept these as part of an eort to preserve much of the feel and texture of the structure (including turning old tin ceilings into wainscot material and repurposing heavy timber into furniture and bar elements). It also took that practical window concept to another level by adding a 30 foot wide hangar door that opens into a walled garden.
The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef, John DeLucie, who formerly ran the kitchen at Waverly Inn. He’s currently a partner at West Chelsea’s Empire Diner and owns Midtown’s Bedford & Co. and Lumaca. Assisting him at Ainslie is the Puglia, Italy born Erasmo “Mino” Lassandro, who mans the wood red oven as lead pizza maker. Menu highlights include Crispy Artichokes with aioli, e Ainslie Burger with Gorgonzola dolce on a brioche bun, and wood red pizzas. Other favorite mains are Linguine Vongole and additional housemade pasta dishes featuring spaghetti, ravioli, and pappardelle, plus a fabulous New York Strip served with watercress, balsamic, cipollini, and true oil.
The space is unquestionably huge, yet it doesn’t feel that way, principally due to canny compartmentalization. The wine bar and main dining area accommodate 210 guests. The 70 seat back beer bar is connected to an outdoor beer garden, while a 60 seat living room like lounge is located on the mezzanine, and 50 more folks can hang out at the 1,000 square foot roof deck and bar.
Jessica Duré (formerly of Broken Shaker) heads the beverage program; her drink menu includes 20 wines by the glass, four more on tap and 16 suds drafts (recent pours include Grimm Dream weapon IPA and Plan Bee Pepper Sour Wild Ale, both from New York).
76 Ainslie Street / 347.725.3400 /