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Williamsburg Restaurant Inspired by Rome Favorite

By Meredith Hoffman | February 14, 2012 11:30am

WILLIAMSBURG — When in Rome, investor Angelo Agazzi eats like the locals — usually at his favorite Antica Pesa restaurant, a 17th century building where celebrity clients and politicians hobnob over classic Italian dishes.

"When you go there you have the best meal of your life," Agazzi said.

Now, Agazzi hopes to bring that dining experience to a different part of the world — Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Agazzi is among a group of investors vying to open an Antica Pesa at 115 Berry St. The Williamsburg Community Board liquor license committee recommended the restaurant for approval at a meeting on Thursday.

The entire board is scheduled to vote on Antica Pesa, which hopes to have a full bar, on Wednesday.

If approved, the eatery has a target date to open in May. Its inspiration comes from its counterpart in Rome, but owners hope to distinguish it in significant ways.

Its dress code, for one, will be more relaxed for a more casual crowd.

Still, the Brooklyn restaurant is expected to be modeled almost entirely after the Antica Pesa in Rome, which has been around for 90 years. 

It serves classic Italian dishes like carbonara and cacio e pepe, meals with "modern slants" like Tortino di coda alla Vaccinara (oxtail stew pie), and fresh seafood including anglerfish "satimbocca" (meaning "jump in the mouth").

The wine selection abounds, and the prices range from about $36 to $140 for a dinner, according to TripAdvisor.

"Once you're in Rome, you have to go there, otherwise you're not important," said Agazzi, who likes to eat there "almost every night" on visits.

Agazzi, who splits his time between Rome, New York City and other U.S. cities, said he had advocated for the Berry Street location because of its proximity to Manhattan and the neighborhood's rapid development.

"This place is getting better and better," he said of North Williamsburg.

"So we'll make it even better."