In a review of an old-school Italian restaurant that ran earlier this year, we observed the local trend toward reinventing Italian cuisine, adding that one had restaurant had gone so far as to bill itself as “Inauthentic Italian.”
Last May, a new practitioner of the craft opened in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. Answering to the name of Café Mars, the house takes pride in serving what it calls “Unusual Italian” cuisine.
How unusual is the Café Mars experience? Castelvetrano olives come suspended in cubes of Negroni gelatin, like bugs in amber. Smoked pork ribs parm are accompanied by a spaghetti “salad.” A pasta dish given on the menu as “waves” features shrimp, kale, mint, and Calabrian chili.
The oddness extends to dessert, which includes an item listed as “Breakfast in Sicily.”
Italianate dishes from other cultures are invited in to play. The Japanese plum wine unemshu is one of the ingredients in an utameshi creation dubbed “paw paw,” which also features pistachio and zabaglione.
The playfulness extends to the interior design, which is straight out of Dr. Seuss.
Café Mars, 272 Third Avenue (at President St.), Brooklyn, 347-987-4225.