Romance Is In The Air At Ponticello Ristorante
When I think of classic, northern Italian cuisine in Astoria, Ponticello Ristorante always comes to mind. A meal at Ponticello is consistently a pleasant and memorable experience, enhanced by a romantic atmosphere and expert service, delivered by charming waiters. One reason for this is the excellent leadership by owners Luigi Kucica and Joe Honovic, who both have years of experience in the restaurant business. In fact, they were honored at a gala event of the New York Restaurant Association, and named Queens’ Restaurateurs of the Year.
Whether you crave pasta, meat, chicken or fish, Ponticello has a specially prepared dish to satisfy your desires. Start with a bottle of wine or a cocktail from the bar and share an appetizer of fire-roasted red peppers or fresh, buttery slices of mozzarella and tomatoes. Their seafood salad tosses calamari and octopus with garlic, olive oil and lemon for a delicious start to a memorable meal. The cold antipasto features cuts of salami and cheese and more with plenty for two to share. A traditional soup of tortellini in brodo brought back memories of Tuscany, even while it took the chill out of a crisp fall Astoria evening. Even the tricolor salad was especially fresh and dressed just right. Gianni, our waiter, brought a plate of homemade potato chips to munch on while we waited for our grilled Portobello mushroom. Both were heavenly.
Ponticello prepares hearty meat dishes from the northern Italian region that feature plenty of choices in veal and lamb. Ponticello’s signature dish, and my personal favorite, is undoubtedly the osso buco.A veal shank is slow cooked for hours in broth until it is reduced to a divine sauce which covers the homemade gnocchi that accompany the meat ($19.50). Try this meal to experience the rich flavor and texture of northern Italian cooking. Veal Ponticello is tender veal cutlet, layered with prosciutto, mozzarella and eggplant, also an excellent choice. Roasted rack of lamb is a visual and culinary feast, cooked to your liking and served with sauteed vegetables and roasted potatoes.
A peasant dish of thick cut pork chops smothered in sweet or hot vinegar and peppers is a great cold weather meal $16.50). A couple may indulge in chateaubriand for two, a double cut filet mignon, tender and juicy.
One patron sitting nearby feasted on a dish of linguine with fresh baby clams (vongole) still in their pretty shells. Another famous pasta dish is seafood Ponticello, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, scungilli and lobster in a zesty tomato sauce, served over a heap of linguine ($19.95). Homemade pappardelle, or ribbon pasta, is delicious when smothered in a rich veal sauce, a Croatian specialty ($13.50).
Fish and seafood dishes round out the menu with fresh choices daily such as salmon, monk fish, red snapper and more. Lobster is available daily at market prices and shrimp can be prepared any way you choose.
Desserts are equally special, displayed on a cart just as you enter the lovely dining room. Their presence reminds you to save room for creamy, homemade tiramisu, rum cake, cheese cake, pastries and tartufo, an ice cream ball dipped in chocolate. Cappuccino or espresso puts the icing on the cake, as it were.
Make some memories for yourself at Ponticello Ristorante, whose owners were named Restaurateurs of the Year. Ponticello is open six days a week for lunch and dinner. Dinner only on Saturdays, from 4:30 p.m. Private parties can be arranged for a family function orbusiness meal.