Williamsburg’s new Have & Meyer is not what you’d expect from a typical Tuscan restaurant. The bar boasts an impressive selection of single malts—a favorite for its Florence-born bar manager Andrea Alessandrini. “We didn’t aim to bring the Italian concept here,” he says. “We wanted to bring what we like to the table.”
The bar calls itself a chatteria, which comes from an Italian slang term used to describe chatting around a shared meal. It’s a far cry from marinara-filled dinners at nonna’s house, though. The kitchen serves small plates of domestic charcuterie and composed crostini beside crafted cocktails.
The space, which opens next week, draws inspiration from the Prohibition era and the Italian buttero, the cowboys of Tuscany who were known to pick fights with the likes of Buffalo Bill. “There’s a lot of passion for freedom,” Alessandrini says.
Its old-timey decor is both laid back and glamorous. In each of the bar’s saloon-style booths hangs a weathered American flag. Above the kitchen, a taxidermied boar’s head keeps watch over the dining room.
The chatteria offers a medley of classic cocktails that Alessandrini refines with special aperitifs that he’s either imported from Italy or from distillers he knows. “Every item in this is bar has a story,” he said. “It comes with a passion from the farmer, the brewery, or the distillery, and we want to bring that back to the customer.”
His love of the industry shows. The drink menu is full of gems, ranging from an ale that was produced in an Italian national park to a Sazerac created with an aromatic one-hundred herb digestif.
Some cocktails don’t stick to any traditional recipe, like the Matta, which is Italian for a “crazy woman.” Alessandrini serves the drink in an etched glass on top of an ornate Florentine playing card. The contents of the drink will remain a mystery until a lucky customer receives the recipe printed on the face of a Queen of Hearts card.
Expect hard-to-find Italian draft beers that share taps with two cocktails — an Aperol Spritz and an Old Fashioned—for a cool $10 each. Keeping with their small-batch ethos, all of their wines sustainably produced.
As for its provisions, diners may recognize some bigger names in the cheese world like Cowgirl Creamery and Jasper Hill Farm. Rather than relying on imported cheeses and salami for its small plates, the bar’s chef Alessandro Trezza opted for products from Vermont, Wisconsin, and Maine that are reminiscent of the Italian-style. “A lot of the stuff that we found locally is better than stuff that people spend a lot of money to import,” Alessandrini said. “They made us forget about going through the hassle of importing.”
But they did bring over an authentic Berkel meat slicer from the 1920s. Cold cuts are shaved to order in front of the customer at the bar, just like in a traditional chatteria in Italy. “That’s the representation of what we are and what we do,” Alessandrini said. “We are comfortable enough to maintain the strength of the bar next to the strength of the kitchen, where the ingredients’ presence is equally important.”
Have & Meyer, 103 Havemeyer St; open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 6pm to 2am, Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 4am.