2000-01-19 / Restaurant of the Week

Restaurant Of The Week

By Teresa Barile

Tratoria L’Incontro Updates Italian Cuisine

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ou’ll enjoy everything about Trattoria L’Incontro, from the ambience to the excellent, updated Italian cuisine and superior service.The beauty of L’Incontro’s interior is matched only by its fabulous food and service.The light and airy Mediterranean décor features terrazzo floors and white stucco walls, offset by vibrant murals of Italian landscapes. Comfortable, hardwood chairs and white tablecloths complete the look of this wonderful trattoria, which is not quite a year old.

When owner Rocco Sacramone is not chatting with the clientele, he is in the kitchen, often with mamma Tina, cooking up some of the tastiest Italian dishes from the Tuscan and Abruzzo regions of Italy. While you pore over a menu that features homemade pasta, veal, chicken, fish and more, enjoy a basket of warm foccaccia bread with a sun-dried tomato spread.The brick oven produces the warm bread as well as an eclectic variety of individual pizzas with a host of toppings, even chocolate!

Antipasto of grilled hearts of escarole with tender white beans or grilled baby artichokes will excite the taste buds and taste especially good when paired with an order of tender, grilled octopus. A bottle of wine from the reasonably priced wine list makes the meal even more enjoyable.

In keeping with Italian customs, after the antipasto comes the "primo" or entree. L’Incontro’s selection of homemade pastas and risotto is not to be missed. Especially impressive are the homemade ravioli with fillings such as freshly ground veal and filet mignon, or ravioli filled with mascarpone cheese and pesto in a brandy sauce laced with fresh asparagus.Equally delicious is the risotto with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil. A delicate mound of homemade spaghetti was tossed with peas and cream and bundled up with paper-thin slices of prosciutto for an outstanding primo, or entrée.

Trattoria L’Incontro’s entrées are generous in size and presented in grand style on oversized plates, yet their prices are quite reasonable. Enjoy a healthy portion of veal sautéed with lemon and capers for $13.95. A flaky filet of striped bass with sun-dried tomatoes, as-paragus and Portobello mushroom is $14.95. Most pasta dishes are about $12.

Each day, Sacramone prepares 12 to 15 specials to reflect the freshest ingredients available in the marketplace and to provide never-ending variety for his regular patrons. I recommend the pesce al sale. A whole striped bass is placed in a skillet and covered with a blend of salt and herbs. The whole pan is then placed in the oven and the fish is cooked to perfection. At the table, the salt is removed from the fish, the skin is removed and the fish filleted to reveal the most delicate and flavorful fish you’ll every try. Surprisingly, it is not the least bit salty, yet very flavorful, especially after being drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Sides of oven browned potatoes and vegetables accompany this healthful and delicious dish. In addition, game dishes such as rabbit and ostrich often appear on the menu, as well as tender grilled steak and veal chops.If you don’t see what you want, ask and they will be happy to make it for you.

Trattoria L’Incontro is open for lunch as well, and what a perfect time to try one of their individual brick oven pizzas, made thin and crispy and topped with prosciutto and goat cheese, olives and mozzarella, or artichokes and mushrooms. You can also have a traditional marghe-rita with mozzarella, tomato and basil. Pizzas cost about $8.95. There are also fresh, crispy salads and homemade soups to enjoy at lunch or dinner.

Try to save room for dessert.Homemade chocolate hazelnut ice cream is served on a plate drizzled with melted chocolate and strawberries.Other choices include lemon tartufo, chocolate mousse cake and tiramisu.

Trattoria L’Incontro is open six days a week for lunch and dinner; closed Mondays.A lovely, private room which holds about 30 people comfortably is available for a family or business event. Visit Trattoria L’Incontro soon for a wonderful evening of great food, wine and friendly service.

Trattoria L’Incontro

21-76 31st St. off

Ditmars Boulevard

Astoria

(718) 721-3532

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