2000-03-29 / Restaurant of the Week

Restaurant

Of The Week

By Teresa Barile

Pasta Del Giorno—An Any Day Treat

‘P

asta del Giorno" means pasta of the day, and I could eat at this pleasant eatery nearly every day. At its location on bustling Austin Street in Forest Hills, you don’t need a special occasion or a lot of money to enjoy a wonderful meal. Owner Tony Gauna opened Pasta del Giorno nearly 11 years ago and his secret is fresh, high quality food and very reasonable prices. The service is also quick and courteous. The soothing interior emulates a mediterranean garden, complete with ceramic tile floors and dappled walls adorned with hand-painted ceramic plates from Italy. Hanging plants and peach-colored linens complete the serene look of the airy and comfortable dining room.

Dip crusty Tuscan bread into a saucer of fragrant, extra-virgin olive oil while you pore over the menu. A glass of wine will whet your appetite for one of the delicious appetizers such as mussels steamed in aromatic broth of white wine, garlic and herbs ($6.95). Or perhaps you’d prefer a refreshing cold seafood salad, brimming with shrimp, calamari, scallops and more in a zesty dressing ($7.95). Standards like crispy baked clams and assorted grilled vegetables are beautifully presented and generously sized for two to share.

As the name suggests, Pasta del Giorno specializes in simple, yet flavorful pasta dishes, featuring homemade pasta. At about $10.50 for a generous helping, you can’t go wrong with any of their pasta entrees, including pappardelle with sun-dried tomatoes porcini mushrooms, olive oil and garlic. Fettuccine al pesto is fresh ribbon pasta tossed with a puree of basil, pine nuts and pecorino romano cheese. My absolute favorite is a Tuscan dish of tagliolini, fine, spaghetti-like pasta tossed with sautéed spinach, garlic and tender white cannelini beans. You may also want to try the homemade ravioli, stuffed with fluffy cheese and topped with a pink sauce and sweet peas. In addition, ask your waiter about the special risotto rice dish of the day.

Clear your palate with a fresh, crispy Caesar salad with crunchy croutons. For something special, try the insalata reale; fresh tomato and endive topped with crispy bacon bits and creamy vinaigrette dressing. The homemade soups are special too.

Pasta del Giorno is more than just pasta. Entrees feature a wide variety of fresh fish, veal, chicken and steak. Specials may include a wonderful filet of trout sautéed with olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Boneless sea bass is prepared marechiara style, with mussels, red wine, chopped tomato and onion.

My dinner companion savored the veal special; a tender, pounded paillard topped with three kinds of mushrooms in a brandy sauce. One taste and I knew I’d have to come back. Veal scallopine sautéed with Barolo wine and Portobello mushrooms is a hearty and satisfying dish, as is the veal with cognac and wild mushrooms ($12.95). A roasted rack of lamb is as beautifully presented as it is delicious, cooked to one’s liking and served with potato and fresh vegetables. Inventive chicken dishes include breast of chicken with sun-dried tomatoes and peas or chicken in a cherry wine sauce with a touch of cream ($10.50). Juicy, grilled steaks round out the menu and offer something for everyone, all at reasonable prices. Be sure to save room for dessert and cappuccino. Deserts include hand-filled cannolis, chocolate mousse cake and my favorite, fresh strawberries with warm zabaglione sauce.

For lunch or dinner, a meal at Pasta del Giorno is pleasant and reasonable priced. The service is quick so you can be on your way if you have to, or feel free to linger over your dessert as long as you like. Visit Pasta del Giorno soon for simple, fresh pasta and much more.

It’s no wonder the dining room was filling quickly, even on a weeknight. Gauna strongly recommends reservations on weekends to prevent a long wait. He can also help organize a private party or luncheon for your next event. Pasta del Giorno is open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and dinner only on Sunday, from 2-11 p.m. When in midtown Manhattan, visit his other restaurant, Il Campanello on West 31st Street.

Pasta Del Giorno

70-49 Austin St.

Forest Hills

(718) 261-1075

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