Photos by Scott Lynch
Oct 10, 2022
The team behind Ayat and Al Badawi open a surprising Italian spot in Bay Ridge
Halal pizzas, pastas, and other crowd pleasers dominate the menu at Fatta Mano
At first glance, it seems a bit odd that Abdul Elenani and Akram Nasser, the hit-makers behind acclaimed Palestinian restaurants Ayat and Al Badawi, would open Fatta Mano, a family-friendly Italian place, as their next big move. It seems perhaps even odder that they’d have the audacity to do it in Bay Ridge, home to roughly 7 million other red sauce spots.
The difference, though — and one that serves the neighborhood well — is that Fatta Mano is 100 percent halal.
“One of the most common cuisines out there is Italian,” Elenani tells Brooklyn Magazine. “Like if you go to the middle of nowhere, you’ll always find some kind of Italian pizzeria or something. It’s a universal type of restaurant. But a lot of Muslims can’t go because there’s pork in the kitchen. So I thought, ‘I’m in the restaurant business, why can’t I just do one for the community?’ So we did, and here we are.”
There are no Middle-Eastern twists to the food here. Fatta Mano serves straight-up, crowd-pleasing Italian dishes. There are seven different pizzas, for example, ranging from a classic margherita topped with bright tomato sauce to a “quattro formaggi” to a pleasantly packed capricciosa, loaded with big chunks of artichoke, black olives, and mushrooms.
Eleneni tells us they use imported Italian flour for the crust, which he says costs a small fortune, but brings a nice chew and tang to the proceedings. The lack of char will please certain cranky critics.
The other part of the menu that will likely get a lot of play is Fatta Mano’s pastas and, again, there’s nothing tricky going on here. The bolognese is a tomato-based ground beef sauce on top of fettuccine; there’s spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, butter, parsley, and chili flakes and parmesan; and, for big spenders, a spaghetti lobster with a whole crustacean plopped on top.
The puttanesca we ate the other day had a nice salty, acidic bite, and the plate of creamy, spicy penne vodka hit all the correct comfort food notes.
A trio of dense meatballs, accessorized with a bit of fluffy ricotta and sitting in a puddle of sauce, made for an excellent accompaniment to all of the above.
Fatta Mano offers a trio of salads, starters like fried calamari, chicken wings, and a ball of burrata with peaches and walnuts, and meaty “secondi” dishes such as chicken Milanese and a whole branzino. Standards all, but well executed and, as Elenani says, “we put love into it.”
The dining room, which seats about 60, is a riot of plastic orange and lemon trees creating a thick canopy over the room. And that’s in addition to the screaming pink floral frontage of the place. It’s hard to keep from smiling as you walk through the door.
Elenani was born and raised a few blocks away, and still calls South Brooklyn his home. These are his neighbors, and, in addition to serving the Muslim community, Fatta Mano has also attracted an early non-Muslim following as the rare BYOB restaurant in Bay Ridge. It’s a lot cheaper to drink here than anywhere else. Plus, as Elenani is quick to point out, “our food is fucking good.”
Fatta Mano is located at 8501 Third Avenue in Bay Ridge, at the corner of 85th Street, and is currently open on Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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Community & Commerce