Chef/Owner Mario Le Manno pays homage to his native Italy by offering authentic thin-crust pizzas, homemade pastas and traditional baked dishes. He attempts to open for us a little window onto the Italian countryside, and for the most part, he is successful. The ambience is warm & inviting, the décor tasteful in its rustic elegance. With a romantic air, Acqua Santa invites you in and caresses you.
The country-style bread and garlic & pepper infused olive oil tempt even the most ardent carb-counters. There are inventive antipasti dishes that spring up on the menu according to the season, some simple, some more complex. The pizzas, which are true to their Sicilian roots, are well executed, as are the traditional pasta dishes. More delicate are the appetizers and entrees that Chef Le Manno sprinkles around the menu, combining a variety of textures and flavors that can at times seem whimsical. On a recent visit, we tried the grilled asparagus, a vegetarian dish that even Passard would have admired for its flavors and colors.
The best things about Acqua Santa are Chef Le Manno (best to go when he is on the premises), the romantic garden with its arbor of grape vines, the authentic country dishes made with a touch of elegance, and the dishes roasted in the brick oven.
For all the subtle beauty of the venue & menu, there are some issues. The portions do not always make sense - too much or too little at times. The service can be rustic, as well, sometimes verging on lackadaisical. Eye-level & bejewelled belly buttons can be distracting. The wine service is reflective of this "laid-back" style, so expect glasses to be over-filled and timing to be a bit off.
The easy-to-interpret wine list is well-suited to the overall feel of the menu. Desserts can be disappointing.
Acqua Santa is located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Manhattan. As Manhattan has become increasingly upscale and overwhelmingly expensive, the New York intelligentsia and creative underclassmen have increasing looked to make Brooklyn their home. The neighborhood that has—arguably—taken the brunt of the exodus from Manhattan is the northern area of Williamsburg. Now a haven for starving artists and hipsters, the neighborhood has redefined and rebranded itself into one of the hotspots of Brooklyn, with bars, live music, and restaurants spawning in direct proportion to the increase in the now well-established sense of Williamsburg community. If the weather's agreeable, you can head to McCarren Park to throw the ol' baseball around or watch the many hipsters in Williamsburg's Kickball League lounge and pose their way to victory. The park's pool is splendid, and there's a brand-new, year-round recreation center. After running around on the grass or watching other people run around, it might be time for a trip to the borough's preferred brewery, the Brooklyn Brewery, where Williamsburg's beer of choice has been make for two decades. The brewery offers staffed tastings on Friday nights, as well as tours of the brewery itself. If the weather's disagreeable, you might be in need of some new threads. No sweat in trendy Williamsburg! Seek out Beacon's Closet on 11th Street for some great thrift-store shopping or native chain Brooklyn Industries for new fashions. Fashion-forward Francophiles will burst their pocketbooks over the selections at Jumelle and Noisette. For those chasing a more urban chic, Williamsburg's own Triple Five Soul should do the trick. Maybe your wallet's heart isn't in apparel and craves music instead. Williamsburg favorites Earwax Records and Academy Annex will satiate the most eclectic of musical tastes with new and used CDs, LPs, and DVDs. Ah, but nothing has a higher fidelity than live music, so check out the Music Hall Of Williamsburg, where national indie acts like Dr. Dog and Les Savy Fav have performed. For a bit of local music and a more neighborhood-appropriate atmosphere, the swank Union Pool offers live music and a bar but no swimming whatsoever. Now, replenish your dwindling energy with breakfast or lunch at the esteemed egg restaurant, or try more filling fare at the renowned Peter Luger Steakhouse. There's also the one-two punch of sister restaurants Marlow & Sons, a Mediterranean café/restaurant/bar/store, and Diner, both created by the same folks and well-known parts of Williamsburg's hipster pedigree. Then there's Bamonte's for Italian, Falafel Chula for Middle Eastern, and Planet Thailand for Southeast Asian. Finally, enjoy a local nightcap—which generally means a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon—at one of the classic neighborhood bars. At The Levee, you can supplement your drinks with great bar food and a game of pool, but at Barcade, the gaming is digital and as well-stocked as the beer selection. The Alligator Lounge is another neighborhood favorite and serves free personal pizzas from its wood-burning oven every night until 3:30am. Or if you'd prefer a subdued atmosphere and well-mixed cocktails—included seasonal potables like hot cider (spiked, of course)—then you should give Pete's Candy Store a go.
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