In Via Garibaldi in the 17th century, there was a Vatican customs post that collected taxes on grain; the antique customs officer decided to initiate a sort of eatery that offered bread and wine to the many peasants who came to the tollhouse. That explains the strange name “Antica Pesa” [The Old Scales] coined in the late 19th century when the original customs function was replaced by a real restaurant.
Since those times, four generations of the same family have run the restaurant, and today the Antica Pesa is a consolidated reality in the Italian restaurant scene. Our dishes have been created following two fundamental guidelines: reworking traditional recipes from Roman cuisine and working with local products that are usually organic; everything is seasonal, with a nod to modern trends. In the Williamsburg restaurant, we are planning to do the same thing, with the help of a few statewide producers.
Forging a link between Rome and New York may seem difficult, still more to find points in common between the two neighbourhoods, Trastevere and Williamsburg, in two entirely different cities. In fact, it isn’t so hard, starting with the topographical connection: on the other side of a river, with the heart of the city facing it, so close you can touch it, but with running water in between acting like a border.
But it is exactly because of this geographical suburban connotation that Trastevere and Williamsburg were destined to be less upper class. They both went through dark and difficult days that forged their characters, over time accumulating a highly individual charm. The artistic and cultural movements, more receptive and sensitive to the potential hidden in the urban spaces, are the first to appreciate the qualities of the two neighbourhoods. However, this happened over two different time periods: Trastevere started in the Fifties, becoming a focal point for the artists of the times, and evolving into a popular ghetto and a symbol of Roman-ness.
Williamsburg, and all Brooklyn, started their “Renaissance” not long ago, and we don’t know where they’ll get to. They offer themselves nowadays as the alternative, as a change, or to put it better, the “non” Manhattan, better known as the Other New York. This is why it has been easy to identify the spirit of the neighbourhood in them, aware of their past, appreciative of their present and desirous of living on in the future. Involving local artisans in the creation of projects is proof of this desire to integrate, the first step being…crossing the river!