Brunch at Angelo’s Taverna is much more than a standard weekend meal — it's more of a summer Sunday soirée, complete with one of the restaurant's main attractions: $1 oysters. If happy hour and late-night happy hour aren't enough (hey, we’re not complaining), Angelo's recently added a Sunday Oyster Social that runs every week through the end of September with good food and strong drinks on its shady Sixth Avenue patio.
Angelo's just entered the brunch game in May with an Italian-ish version of Sunday Funday from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. and it's still a local secret, so getting a table isn't a problem. The taverna promises an additional non-food feature to set the stage for the patio party: a different musical genre each Sunday. The inaugural Sunday Social featured polyester disco suits and exceptionally large wigs, but this week's brunch was a more peaceful wake-up call. We may have committed a party foul by arriving too early, but there was no music playing when we were seated — a shame, because I was really looking forward to some throwback tunes or getting Rick Rolled into the week. Otherwise, the event is very much a neighborhood gem with just a touch of block-party vibe thrown in.
A neighborhood bar means neighborhood prices — and that's a score for brunch seekers, who will find $4 Bloody Marys (bottomless for $12), $3 mimosas, $15 buckets of beer, and $5 oyster shooters (this week was cucumber vodka with a splash of Bloody Mary mix). With prices like that, Angelo’s wants you to hang out for a few rounds, so get comfortable because this is the kind of brunch meant for a long day in the sun.
Deliciously briny and plump East Coast oysters made their way to our table and we went to town throwing them back. Feeling creative, we used the extra sides of horseradish, cocktail sauce and mignonette to doctor up our Bloodies (and people say I can't cook).
I would have been quite fine just noshing on shellfish all morning, but the brunch menu offers some uniquely enticing nibbles. With absolutely nothing resembling run-of-the-mill eggs, waffles or pancakes, Angelo's defies logic with cheese blintzes, pork rolls and a take on Hawaiian loco moco, which for a supposedly Italian eatery pretty much epitomizes fusion confusion.
The carbonara breakfast pizza, a white pizza topped with pancetta, peas, green onion, mozzarella and egg yolks, at least hits on the Italian side of the scale. It’s a carby way to get your morning protein and comes in three sizes (or one gluten-free size); the 16-inch was more than enough for two. But order a size up for late-night leftovers or a hungover pizza breakfast.
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Less Italian and just a little loco, the Pazzo Moco hits the fusion side of things with gusto. Angelo's swaps out the "loco" for "pazzo," which still means crazy — and crazy is right. Traditional loco moco is blue-collar fare, with white rice holding up a hamburger patty, fried eggs and gravy. This was much more of a loose translation — with serious points for creativity that even added a new word to our vocabulary. Arancini (monstrous fried rice balls that tasted like risotto) were garnished with sausage chunks, fried gnocchi and melty mozzarella. All of that swam in marinara beneath a fried egg. Call it an Italian one-pot wonder; but it somehow all managed to work. With the egg and the cheese delightfully fused together in stringy mozzarella-stick fashion, it was fried-food heaven. I hadn’t had fried gnocchi before and found it much more pleasing than fried ravioli, which can be dense and heavy, leaving you with a case of the blahs. These were the perfect size to pop in your mouth between sips — and more sips — of Angelo's brunch cocktails.
So don't be put off by the odd menu's lack of standard options: this is one brunch worth going a little crazy over.