Aurora Brooklyn

An aurora is a dazzling polar light phenomenon, and at first seems an odd choice for the name of an Italian place in Williamsburg. But during the Great Holiday Blizzard a couple of weeks ago, it all made perfect sense. This restaurant, just two blocks from the East River, radiates enough warmth inside to keep all storms at bay. It’s as cozy as it is farmhouse elegant, with wooden floors and tables and a wall mounted with colanders and other decorative kitchen tools. Things get more Mediterranean as fluffy slabs of focaccia covered with cheese and cherry tomatoes (or caramelized onions and aromatic rosemary needles) arrive just ahead of plump house-made pork sausage on a bed of Port-braised lentils. If you’re lucky, they’ll offer the ravioli special, with oozing ricotta, shaved porcini mushrooms and a rich porcini butter sauce. If not, you can console yourself with the agnello brodettato, chunks of lamb lavished with a sauce of egg yolk, lemon and Pecorino and plated with roasted Jerusalem artichokes, an upgrade from standard potatoes. Aurora’s three Italian owners debuted their Brooklyn flagship in 2003; it was the guiding light that led to an Aurora SoHo (2006) and Emporio, a wood-burning pizzeria in Nolita (2009).

sweet seats

The best table, the five-top banquette in the southeast corner, offers a view of the softly lit dining room. But if you’re looking to keep a low profile, sit behind the brick wall at a two-top banquette, which still provides plenty of room for romance.

chew on this

Supplì al telefono, the Arborio rice fritters that are closely related to arancini, are named for what happens when you pull them apart: The stretchy strands of molten mozzarella resemble telephone wires.


Mon.–Thurs. 6 PM–11 PM; Fri.–Sat. 6 PM–12 midnight;
Sun. 6 PM–10 PM

price range for dinner entrées*

$13 (lemon fettuccine) to $30 (strip steak)
*cash only