Sicilian Brooklyn Lives on in Ferdinando’s Focacceria

Francesco ‘Frank’ Buffa and his two sons outside Ferdinando’s Focacceria. (Photo by Megan Cerullo via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

Francesco ‘Frank’ Buffa and his two sons outside Ferdinando’s Focacceria. (Photo by Megan Cerullo via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

Ferdinando’s Focacceria is one of the few remaining “relics of Old Brooklyn,” writes Megan Cerullo in an article for Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The Sicilian restaurant, which has hardly changed in over a century, is “a rare specimen: it’s a remnant of another era that’s retained its vitality and popularity by remaining the same.” Stemming from that old-style Brooklyn charm is the straightforward attitude of owner and Sicily native Francesco “Frank” Buffa: “I have no competition,” he says, to which Cerullo adds, “He doesn’t boast; rather, he plainly acknowledges that nearby eateries pose no threat to a 110-year-old business…”

Ferdinando’s adherence to bygone decades – visible in the building’s façade and its interior, not to mention its menu – attracts loyal locals and curious tourists drawn by word of mouth and widespread media coverage. The restaurant, opened in 1904 by Buffa’s father-in-law Ferdinando, serves traditional Sicilian dishes, one of which is the customer favorite “panelle sandwich.”

Three deep-fried chickpea fritters come topped with copious ricotta and Pecorino-Romano cheese and are served on a house-baked semolina roll. A waitress advises that that the sandwich should be eaten hastily, while the bread is still hot. Buffa explains the laborious process by which the authentic Sicilian specialty is made by hand.

“We use flour, water and salt and cook it, polenta style, for an hour over a flame,” he says. “Then we put it on a wood mold and wait for it to cool.”

Get a feel for the restaurant – its appearance, history (and future) and more from Buffa at Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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