There’s no such thing as a standard pancake.
Cultures around the world make pancakes both sweet and savory. Some are breakfast treats; others serve as the centerpieces of hearty dinners. They come in all shapes and sizes, from syrupy American griddle cakes to savory Japanese okonomiyaki to crispy Italian farinata.
That last one, the chickpea-based farinata, is on the dinner and brunch menu at the new East Williamsburg eatery Fitzcarraldo. The modern Italian restaurant is housed inside 3rd Ward, the art and start-up center that Fitzcarraldo’s owner told this paper just before press time is closing after seven years, but the gourmand says his place is a separate operation and will continue to serve up fresh flapjacks with a very specific geographic inspiration.
“We’re trying to focus on Ligurian cuisine of the Italian Riviera,” Fitzcarraldo’s managing director Henry Rich said, adding that the farinata is a staple there.
If you are looking to mix up your Sunday morning pancake routine with something more adventurous, something more in line with pizza than flapjacks, the farinata is a great place to start. The pancake is made from a chickpea flour batter and the edges are crisped and browned in oil. The core resembles creamy polenta more than the bready insides of an American pancake.
Faranita is a hearty dinner appetizer that could serve as a light main course. At Fitzcarraldo, it comes to the table in a small cast-iron pan looking like pizza, dressed up with a simple tomato sauce, shaved pecorino cheese, and basil on top. Eaten in small slices, the farinata is savory, substantial, and delectable, and the heaviness of the pancake is balanced by the straightforward sauce and fresh herbs.
“We want to make food that’s simple enough that it can be people’s regular go-to,” Rich said. “Farinata is most authentic Northern Italian thing we’ve done so far. It’s relatively simple, it’s pretty good for you, and it’s pretty inexpensive.”
Foodies seem to be taking to the foreign short-stacks.
“No one has ever not finished the dish,” the waiter said.
There is one universal way of recognizing good grub and that is a clean plate.
Fitzcarraldo [195 Morgan Ave., between Stagg and Meadow streets in East Williamsburg, (718) 233–2566, www.fitzbk.com]. Mon–Fri, 9 am–2 am; Sat 5:30 pm–2 am; closed Sun.