Inhale the same scent of warm bread and sweet garlic that locals have been enjoying inside Ferdinando's Focacceria for more than 110 years. “Nothing's changed,” says Francesco (“call me Frank, everyone does”) Buffa. “You make the food. People like the food. Why would you change?” The restaurant is seriously old-school, with brown walls covered in black-and-white photos, Sinatra on loop, and red sauce. It's determinedly not fancy. Buffa has been in charge for almost half a century. “My father-in-law taught me the recipes," he says. "Everything comes under my nose.” Hearty sandwiches made with freshly baked bread entice a lunchtime crowd, while at dinner those in the know order melt-in-the-mouth meatballs, arancina blanketed in sweet tomato sauce, and a range of exceptional Sicilian specialties. Don't miss the panelle, a fried chickpea pastry served with fresh ricotta, or the freshly made burrata, the perfect partner to smoky grilled eggplant. Pasta con sarde is a house favorite made with sardines, wild fennel, pine nuts, raisins, and a saffron sauce. Wine is “red or white. Imported. What do you like? I'll get you a glass,” says Buffa. Save room if you can for a house-made cannoli — among the best in the city. This is a meal almost outside time, generous and warm, served the way it always has been, with passion and pride.
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