With all due respect to the eye-catching, mouth-watering display case, I'd settled on my order before I walked in the door.
Pasta con sarde ($12) is one of the most popular entrees at this easy-going Sicilian restaurant, and as you can see at a glance, it's miles away from Southern Italian red-sauce fare. A tubular pasta like bucatini is traditional, but no matter; order it for the extra-thick sauce flavored by fennel, pine nuts, and of course sardines (possibly both fresh sardines and salted anchovies). For a change, give a pass to the grated cheese and top your pasta with finely ground, toasted breadcrumbs. Suggested beverage pairing: Manhattan Special espresso coffee soda ($1.99).
Joe's of Avenue U
287 Avenue U (near McDonald Ave.), Gravesend, Brooklyn
(Just slightly to the left of Harold's for Prescriptions)