The stained pine ceiling resembles the hull of a ship, and the muted lighting is reminiscent of a day when whale sebum kept tables aglow. Floral tiles, an open kitchen, and the floor-to-ceiling window that looks onto the urban jungle parallel the Werner Herzog film that lends this restaurant its name.
A little background: Fitzcarraldo was a real-life opera lover who dreamed of creating an opera house in the provincial capital of Iquitos, Peru. In order to access the rubber that would help him finance his project, he
pulled a 320-ton boat over a hill in the middle of the Amazon. The food here at Fitzcarraldo is testament to the power of grand ambition.
Owners Henry Rich and Julian Riese wanted to duplicate the success of their Boerum Hill restaurant, Rucola, with affordable, healthy northwest Italian food in East Williamsburg.
So far, so good. Start by pairing the robust Nebbiolo rosé with spicy walnut and anchovy eggplant ($8). The black bass crudo garnished with Calabrian chilis and cucumber granita is awash with flavor. And the trofie pasta ($12), a thin rolled noodle an inch and a half long, is native to Liguria. So is pesto, as a matter of fact. Chef Vini Campos has crafted a nut-free version that wholly lives up to its predecessors. His scallops and clams in squid ink ($21) are served with clam broth and rustic bread, and taste like a Cinque Terre sea breeze. For dessert, try the panna cotta, garnished with olive oil, fresh thyme, peach and crunch. Top it off with a shot of Amaro Montenegro and digest while you reflect on your dreams.
After dinner, the smells of pesto wafted out to the patio. Fitzcarraldo projected onto a screen. Caruso sang. Trapped in the Closet, the modern operatic masterpiece, followed. It seemed we were far away from civilization, with only art and nature to keep us company. And it became clear that everything about the Fitzcarraldo experience is a reinterpretation of what is possible.
Bottom line: Disparate elements combine to bring high gastronomical standards into the wilds of industrial Brooklyn. Now that 3rd Ward has a worthy partner to feed its creative audience, don’t be surprised if
Fitzcarraldo appears on destination lists for locals and tourists alike.