Broccoli rabe has been in fashion at high end eateries for quite a while now. Should you lower your gaze to see what’s on those beautiful people’s plates on the sidewalk at Da Silvano, you might find plates of overpriced broccoli rabe. Like risotto did during an earlier generation, broccoli rabe has risen from an obscure, regional dish to a popular staple at many Italian restaurants.
It certainly is an acquired taste. Broccoli rabe actually doesn’t look or taste much like broccoli. True, it is green. But broccoli rabe has more in come with its cousin the turnip than broccoli. The leafy green’s natural flavor is best described as bitter, a taste most people don’t associate with good eats.
But when broccoli rabe is fresh and cooked right, it is nothing short of heavenly. It can be downright addictive. One of those pricey contorni of broccoli rabe with sausage at Da Silvano is nice, but when I’m in the mood for a plate of straight broccoli rabe with olive oil and garlic I go to Fratelli's Pizza Café.
Hunt’s Point in The Bronx might just be the worse neighborhood in the whole city. If not, it’s definitely in the running. However, Hunt’s Point is also home to the Hunt’s Point Terminal Market, the port of entry for all vegetable deliveries to New York City. And just a few, long, desolate blocks from the Terminal Market gates is a tiny restaurant called Fratelli's Pizza Café.
It’s open 24 hours during the weekdays to cater to the warehousemen and truck drivers who work in Hunt’s Point around the clock. It's the type of restaurant with a back entrace that leads you through the kitchen. And their broccoli rabe is, naturally, as fresh as it comes. They manage to cook it so that it’s only slightly bitter, so the plentiful garlic has a chance to shine through.
They also make an incredibly tasty and unique (in my experience) broccoli rabe hero. And the broccoli rabe and sausage square slice easily ranks as one of the best Sicilian slices in town. I’m here to tell you, you don’t need Da Silvano to find amazing broccoli rabe. You just need cojones big enough to walk into Hunt’s Point.
Fratelli Pizza Cafe, 402 Hunt's Point Avenue, The Bronx 718-542-7340