Run! Do not stop until you reach the new Italian trattoria in Astoria – the place to go if you love great pasta, great hospitality and great food all in a warm inviting atmosphere.
I’m always watching my carb content of my dinner and I rarely order pasta, but Ornella has such unique selections I could not resist. The recipes coming from Ornella Viterale’s mom and grandma’s kitchen have made their way onto her menu, and we are all lucky!
Her husband Giuseppe explained that in Italy where he was raised, his father owned a flour mill and so they made any kind of flour, chestnut, chickpea, corn or fava beans.
Here you can find pasta di castagna, which is a dish of chestnut flour pasta with arugula, cherry tomatoes in a garlic and oil sauce. Pasta di ceci is made with chickpea flour pasta tossed with hearts of artichoke and black olives in a pungent garlic and oil dressing. There is also buckwheat pasta cooked to perfection in Pizzoccheri alla Fontina cooked with cabbage, potato and fontina cheese.
Since I was amazed at the unique selection, our gracious host Giuseppe made me a combo plate of all three. There is also an amazing rice flour pasta (Aborio) risotto dish with baby spinach and fresh mozzarella. In total, there are 16 different choices so I know I must return to try the other selections. Nevertheless, my meal had just begun.
We began our feast with an appetizer of gamberi e fagioli – a broiled shrimp, cannellini beans with garlic, rosemary, tomatoes, all lightly tossed with olive oil. My husband had a vongole oreganata – baked little neck clams in a tasty mix of garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley and a dash of lemon zest and lemon. I had the delizia – a salad of field greens topped with asparagus, beets, goat cheese and cherry tomatoes tossed in a balsamic reduction dressing. The portions were large and brought to the table piping hot – just how I like my food.
After the superb pasta selections, we had a main course of grilled tuna cooked as we requested. I had my favorite dish, pollo Scarpariello cooked to perfection. A large portion of white and dark meat on the bone tossed with roasted sausage, and just the right blend of garlic, rosemary and white wine. The portion was so large I had to take half home. But my feasting partner had one of his favorite dishes, tilapia livornese, served on the menu with swordfish but adapted for him with Ornella’s catch of the day. I appreciated their being able to make special requests, since the intimate room seating 70 people has all the food cooked to order.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, and here Ornella shines. Both the breadbasket of foccacia and crusty Italian bread, as well as all the desserts are made fresh each day on the premises. I found room for a sampling of the desserts. My favorite was the light silky smooth Italian cheesecake. Their tiramisu was also outstanding.
Ornella Trattoria Italiana
29-17 23rd Avenue
Astoria, N.Y. 11105
Hours: Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m .to 11 p.m.
Brunch served on Saturday and Sunday
Reservations taken for tables on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Web site: www.ornellatrattoria.com