I was disappointed when I heard that Betto in Williamsburg had closed, either temporarily or permanently; the internet didn’t know which one it was. Betto was hidden on a quiet side street and had a clean airy feel and lots of slick wood furnishings. It was also quiet and peaceful, not what I was expecting from what seemed like a trendy new spot. My first visit there was with my sister last summer. We were toasting her big upcoming move to LA with tall slim glasses of bubbling, blood-red Lambrusco.
We shared some killer little meatballs, a silky pesto-covered papardelle dish and a salad of radish, watercress and mascarpone. I went back with Alan weeks later. We sat near the wide open face of the restaurant to bathe in the cool summer air and ordered that same salad because I had loved the contrast between the fattiness of the cheese and the cold, watery freshness of the watercress and radish. Sadly, from the looks of a Betto Google search, we probably won’t be having date night there anymore.
There is no shortage of great restaurants that we can discover, restaurants that have been around for ages and baby restaurants that are being born every day but there’s a sadness to saying goodbye to dishes that you will never taste again. I guess I had been mourning Betto since hearing the news of its demise and couldn’t get the radish, watercress and mascarpone combination out of my head, so I put it on the plate in the form of a crostini. Those crostini bursted with color and fat, screamed of springtime and begged for cold Lambruso. Raise your glasses and take a bite. R.I.P Betto.
Makes 6 crostini
6 thin diagonal slices of baguette
Olive oil, for brushing bread
6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Coarse salt, to taste
1 celery stalk, sliced thinly on a diagonal
1/2 cup packed (rough ends trimmed) watercress
2 radishes, sliced very thinly (on a mandolin if you have one)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a pastry brush or a paper towel, brush the bread slices with a light coating of olive oil and place them in the oven or broiler (if you use the broiler, check them every few seconds) until they are a light golden brown color, flip them over and do the same to the other side.
3. Add a bit of salt and pepper to the mascarpone and taste it to see if you like it. Add more salt and pepper until you reach your desired flavor (I used a ton of pepper and a couple of big pinches of coarse salt).
4. Spread 1 tablespoon of mascarpone on each slice of bread and top with a few pieces of celery, then a few stalks of watercress, then a few slices of radish making sure they nestle into the mascarpone which will keep everything in place when you take a bite.
5. Serve as is or with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and coarse salt to taste.