Inside the restaurant, Mrs. Clinton declined plates of baked clams, eggplant, mushrooms, spiedini, fried calamari and mozzarella di bufala (but took home a doggy bag). During what turned out to be a two-hour session, she answered questions about, among other things, the high level of unemployment among young African-Americans, energy policy and, prompted by an Assemblyman from Brighton Beach, Vladimir Putin.
New York City Council member David Yassky would say later that Mrs. Clinton’s performance was “uber-impressive.”
About halfway through the event, Mr. Natale stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. He recalled the time Bill Clinton walked by after visiting a senior center down on Ainslie Street during the 1992 campaign.
The neighborhood had changed a lot since then, with hipsters dressed like old Italian men in coffee shops replacing the old Italian men in coffee shops.
“Williamsburg is the new place to be at,” said Mr. Natale.
Mr. Natale, too, had undergone some changes. Years before he owned the restaurant, it turned out, he had dabbled in the law, working briefly in the office of a rival of Mrs. Clinton.
“I interned for Rudy,” said Mr. Natale, recalling his days as a St. John’s University student working in Mr. Giuliani’s U.S. Attorney’s office. “He’s not the best thing out there.”
Pushed to elaborate, Mr. Natale extinguished his cigarette under his shoe.
“I ain’t going there,” he said.
From the back room, a sound emerged of Mrs. Clinton receiving another round of applause.