By Carol Brock
I like to go in the evening when it's a little busy. Even on a Friday and Saturday Arturo's is serene – gracious, a little formal, a little old-worldish. Appetizers are served from a cart rolled up to your table. The pastas and dishes like Fillet Mignon Arturo's are prepared at a table by your side. There's a tiered dessert cart to peruse before ordering and if you order zabaglione (we did) it's whisked together before you and served hot over berries and vanilla ice cream in a footed glass.
Service like this is rare and I can't get enough of it. I love to get, and see others get, “the treatment.” Waiters are professionals, three of whom have been serving at Arturo's for six years.
Ask, “Who's in the chef?” And the answer is, “My wife.” Twelve years ago Antonio and Anna bought Arturo's. Anna had been working side by side with the chef, took over and is still in command. Arturo's torta primavera, a layering of meats, cheese and vegetables between velvet crepes is the signature appetizer and it is a masterpiece. If you order the cold antipasto, a sliver is included along with a fine seafood salad and eggplant both grilled and marinated, all of which are plated from the appetizer cart.
I remembered the stuffed artichoke from the past as something not to be missed. But snails are even more of a treat. The sauce was the kind that you like to sop up with bits of bread. It's that good. Each of our three appetizers were special indeed. And yes, there is a sampling of bruschetta heaped with tomato beforehand as well as olives for nibbling (and I do love a briny olive or two).
Stuffed veal chop was featured tonight and one dining companion went for it. It was ultra thick, stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella, with a wine and mushroom sauce. No complaints here. The other chap ordered crabmeat crepes, cognac spiked, with a béchamel sauce. Interestingly, the vegetable on all three entrees was escarole, a small boiled potato and carrot chunk. Although this veggie trio was not the usual to go with crepes, it worked.
Chicken villa bianco sounded delicious – chicken breasts with rosemary, sage, shallots and white wine. One bite and I said, “Doesn't taste like chicken.” Our waiter, who overheard the comment assured me, “It was.” And it was – the way chicken used to taste with all the texture and flavor that used to be.
Dining at Arturo's is very relaxed. They even serve a complimentary bowl of fruit, heaped high, between the entree and dessert, knowing the dessert cart is on siren song standby.
The dessert array is tempting with fresh-filled cannoli and creamy cheesecake. One companion had a slice of the cassata with sponge layers and a creamy filling. We wanted to try a zabaglione for two. We loved watching the eggs being deftly separated. Then the yolks were whisked in a copper bowl over heat into a foamy Marsala wine sauce to be spooned hot over berries on ice cream in stemmed glasses. (Arturo's has always used ice cream as a base.) Coffee is served.
To add to the luxuriating there's a strolling guitarist from 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. And if you are thinking of a party, there are three private rooms, two behind the main dining room and one tucked behind the bar.
The Bottom Line
A destination restaurant. Gracious dining. Service with appetizer cart, table side finishing of dishes, dessert cart, complimentary fruit bowl. Fine, traditional Italian cuisine. Strolling guitarist.
246-04 Jericho Turnpike, Bellerose
Torta primavera (several layers of crepes with a variety of vegetable, cheeses and meat filings)…$10
Penne Cognac (ham, chopped onions, cream, light marinara sauce, flambéed with cognac)…$15
Snapper Livonese (crepes, garlic, garnished all over with a fresh tomato sauce)…$24
Veal Arturo (veal with wine sauce topped with a slice of prosciutto and melted fontina cheese )…$19
Pollo Portafogliu (chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese in a light tomato and mushroom sauce)…$18.50
Zabaglione con Fragole (vanilla ice cream and strawberries topped with a cream made with egg yolk, sugar and marsala wine) …for two $19.75
Italian Cheesecake (homemade with chocolate chips)…$6.50
Cuisine: Traditional Italian
Service: Side table finishing of dishes, appetizer cart, dessert cart, complimentary fruit bowl
Hours: Mon to Fri. 7 days
Location: Two blocks E Cross Island Pkwy. S side
Dress: Neat casual. (Jackets suggested)
Credit cards: All major
Off-premise catering: Yes
Noise level: Fri & Sat, quiet
Handicap accessible: Yes