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119-Year-Old Bamonte’s Italian-American Fare: A Delightful Taste of Old-School Fantasy

This is the sixth installment in a series called Is It Still Good? Eater NY will be revisiting long-established restaurants that have acquired towering reputations and still generate plenty of traffic to find out if...

This is the sixth installment in a series called Is It Still Good? Eater NY will be revisiting long-established restaurants that have acquired towering reputations and still generate plenty of traffic to find out if the food quality justifies our continued admiration. The last review was Grand Central Oyster Bar.

Founded in 1900 by Pasquale Bamonte from Salerno, Italy, and still in the same family, Bamonte’s may be the city’s oldest Italian restaurant, and one that’s still frequented for both its antique charms and its classically Italian-American menu.

A Charming Step Back in Time

Bamonte’s, located in Williamsburg, occupies a two-story house adorned with stone and red clapboards that give it an almost farmhouse feel. Walking in, you'll notice a darkened barroom with a signed picture of James Gandolfini, adding to its allure and history. In fact, Bamonte's served as the perfect setting for several episodes of The Sopranos, attracting the likes of Robert De Niro and Frank Sinatra. The ambiance is further enhanced by the presence of two wooden phone booths, remnants of a bygone era.

An Eclectic Fusion of Italian Fare

Bamonte’s menu is a delightful mash-up of Italian and Italian-American cuisines. With recipes passed down through generations, the flavors remain true to the neighborhood's roots. You won't find modern or faddish dishes here; instead, indulge in the classic offerings that have stood the test of time. The prices are modest, even for those looking to enjoy an extravagant meal, with an average bill of around $50 per person.

Traditional Delights Worth Savoring

To start your meal at Bamonte's, indulge in their clams oreganata. Each little neck is topped with a heap of herbed breadcrumbs, capturing the essence of the ocean waves. The clams are served with a powerful broth derived from the shellfish, making it a culinary experience worth savoring. Another must-try appetizer is the eggplant rollatini. This dish pays homage to Italian housewives who used an abundance of cheap dairy products, resulting in a luscious roll-up of eggplant slices stuffed with clean-tasting ricotta, smothered in a chunky tomato sauce.

Timeless Classics and Delectable Pastas

Bamonte’s mastery of traditional Italian-American fare shines through their main course offerings. The homemade ravioli, stuffed with fluffy ricotta, is exquisite when served with plain tomato sauce. For those seeking baked pasta, opt for the lasagna, which delights with its tomatoey simplicity. The spaghetti and meatballs, especially when paired with a meaty Bolognese sauce, is a crowd-pleaser. If you're craving something a bit different, try the rigatoni with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe, which offers a delightful contrast of flavors.

Delectable Meats and Shareable Entrees

While poultry dishes like chicken cacciatore steal the spotlight, Bamonte's also offers some "don't miss" meats. The famous pork chop alla Bamonte, served with sweet or hot pickled peppers, is a true highlight. The veal dishes, whether fried as a schnitzel or prepared in Francese style, will leave your taste buds dancing. Every entree comes with generous servings of garlicky green beans and soft, salty potatoes, making them perfect for sharing.

End on a Sweet Note

Leaving Bamonte's without indulging in dessert would be a missed opportunity. While not listed on the menu, the cannoli here is fabulous, with a ricotta filling that's ethereally whipped and free of candied fruit. The pastry tube offers an irresistibly crunchy texture. Another great choice is the tartufo, a hump of ice cream coated with chocolate and adorned with a cherry.

Atmosphere, Charm, and More Atmosphere

While Brooklyn offers a variety of Italian restaurants, Bamonte’s stands out for its timeless classics, charming ambiance, and reasonably priced wine list. Whether you're celebrating a birthday, betrothal, or simply craving an authentic Italian-American meal, this century-old establishment is full of atmosphere and history. And, with a glassed-in open kitchen, you can rest assured that no one is poisoning your food.

Eggplant rollatini Eggplant rollatini

Tartufo and cannoli For dessert, tartufo and cannoli