Brooklyn has some fantastic food — good enough that major critics make their way across the river on a regular basis to hand out stars to the new eateries that seem to pop up weekly. One of the new guard that feels like it’s got lasting power is Betto, on North Eighth Street in Williamsburg.
Light wood décor accents the otherwise beige-and-gray palette of the space, which is lofty and open. It strikes that balance of industrial, rustic, and chic. Communal tables with bar stools and high-backed banquettes, too, emphasize the laid-back, “Brooklyn” vibe of the place.
But, of course, Betto’s main draw is its simplistic and fresh approach to Italian food and portion control. The menu reads like what an Italian person who fell in love with American food might desire — cheese from Vermont next to baccala crostini, cuttlefish crudo next to locally sourced clams.
And while there are plenty of dishes to share or indulge in individually, the restaurant's specialty is a “whole animal” portion of the menu, where diners are encouraged to share an entire animal with a changing rotation of well-paired sides. When I last ate at Betto, it was a whole Branzino that came with a grilled corn salad, a fresh market salad, and roasted potatoes. It was all simple, all delicious, and all memorable. The whole animal may be pig, lamb, game birds, duck, — the list goes on, as does the list of potential sides.
We asked for a wine recommendation for our chosen dishes, which, alongside the Branzino, also included the flatbread and the grilled plums with burrata. While the type of wine that we easily drained escapes me, I remember it being the perfect complement to the dinner — one that did not overpower nor compete with any of the savory flavors coming from the kitchen.