1999-07-29 / Restaurant of the Week

Restaurant Of The Week

By Teresa Barile

There’s always something new and delicious cooking at Original Rosa’s Pizza in the Jackson Heights shopping center on 31st Avenue. Owner Rosario Panepinto, along with chef Sergio and cousin Lorenzo, who manages the restaurant, are constantly looking for ways to improve service to their loyal customers. Recently several new menu items have been added, much to the delight of devoted fans of Original Rosa’s. Try, for example, the new wrap sandwiches, stuffed with such healthy ingredients as broccoli and spinach and grilled chicken Caesar. The new foccaccia sandwich is light, crispy foccaccia bread, filled with thinly sliced ham, turkey, fresh mozzarella and tomato. The mozzarella is made daily on the premises. The chef’s homemade rice balls make a great lunch or side dish.

Panepinto’s secret is freshness and customer satisfaction is his reward. He insists on preparing his pizza dough and sauce fresh each day and all entrees are cooked to order on the spot. Step into the spacious, air conditioned dining room and admire the murals of Italian seasides while you anticipate a slice of their freshly baked pizza with your favorite topping. My personal favorite is the bruschetta pizza, made to order with fresh arugula and tomato atop the light and crispy crust. Enjoy a freshly filled pizza roll, stuffed with sausage and peppers or their latest creation, filled with grilled chicken, fresh tomato and spinach. At about $3.50, this in itself makes a great lunch or dinner, especially when accompanied by a crunchy tossed house salad. The chef salad or grilled chicken Caesar salad are both ample enough for a meal in themselves, and the house dressing is tangy and delicious.

The entrees and pasta dishes on the menu are as good as those found in many fancy Italian restaurants, at a fraction of the price. Try their veal sorrentino, tender cutlets of veal layered with thinly sliced eggplant and mozzarella in a golden sauce ($10.95). Chicken rustico is a spicy peasant dish combining boneless chicken breast with slices of sausage, mushrooms and hot pepperoncini peppers in a tangy sauce. This dish compares with others served at fine restaurants and you don’t have to get dressed up to eat at Original Rosa’s. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your house at all. Any item on their menu, from pizza to veal pizzaiola can be ordered for take out, with free delivery to most surrounding neighborhoods. There’s even an oven in their truck to keep food warm en route to home or office. Panepinto will happily cater any affair, with all favorite hot entrees and cold antipasto platters. What child wouldn’t love a pizza party for his or her birthday?

Pasta dishes are another specialty, featuring a choice of spaghetti, linguini, ziti, fettuccini or rigatoni with any one of 14 sauces, all at an amazing $7.95. Their most popular sauce is the vodka sauce, famous for its tangy, creamy texture and flavor. The red clam sauce, full of juicy chopped clams in a zesty tomato sauce, is also popular. Other favorites are the puttanesca sauce with capers and olives over spaghetti or creamy carbonara sauce. My choice is rigatoni with broccoli, garlic and oil. Light and healthy, the oversized bowl of pasta could feed an army, and, like all pasta dishes, is served with a house salad and a basket of Italian bread. The homemade lasagna will satisfy even the biggest appetite, with its many layers of cheese, pasta and meat. Whether ordered to stay or to go, the pasta dishes are cooked fresh to order, and taste great.

Overstuffed Italian hot heroes make for a satisfying lunch or dinner, with choices such as chicken parmigiana, veal cutlet, meatballs or peppers and eggs, an old favorite with my family. A bowl of homemade soup of the day makes a great accompaniment to one of Rosa’s heroes. Finish a meal with a cup of espresso or cappuccino and pay a lot less than you would at a fancy coffee house.

Rosa’s is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, until 10 p.m. Any time is a good time to stop in or call Original Rosa’s Pizza. Great pasta, entrees, heroes, and, of course pizza, all at great prices, with free delivery and personalized catering available.

Original Rosa’s Pizza

75-63 31st Ave.

Jackson Heights

(718) 651-8111

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