CROWN HEIGHTS — Italy and Louisiana intersect at a Crown Heights jazz bar.
The Italian-born Brooklyn chef behind Vanderbilt Avenue's Amorina Pizza has opened an Italy-infused soul food restaurant with live music.
Located in the former home of Abigail Cafe & Wine Bar at 807 Classon Ave. at St. Johns Place, The Classon Social Club celebrates music both Southern and more local, owner Albano Ballerini said.
“We are in this incredible neighborhood that is full of incredible musicians,” said Ballerini, who has lived in the area for 15 years. “There is no place in Brooklyn that can be a showcase for these musicians like we can.”
The Classon, which opened last Friday, serves soul food dishes with an Italian spin. The risotto ($16), for instance, is made with red beans and okra, like a gumbo. The sorghum-glazed porchetta ($20), a dish from Ballerini’s hometown, is slow-cooked and spiced like barbecue.
The drinks menu features a mix of Italian and French wines, as well as craft beers from all over the country.
While the dishes were carefully designed, the real focus of The Classon is the music, Ballerini said. The venue does not charge a cover for live music, which they host Thursday through Saturday, with donations for musicians accepted. For their next shows, Ballerini and music director Francesco Pini are reaching out to local musicians, as well as established blues and jazz performers. Also, they plan to establish residencies.
Opening night kicked off Friday with a performance by vocalist KJ Denhert and Etienne Stadwijk on keyboard. Despite not being heavily promoted, the show was a hit, Ballerini said.
“We didn’t see many dollar bills in the donation box," he said. “We saw a lot of 5-, 10- and 20-dollar bills.”