Gala Grand Opening
Of The Week
Gala Grand Opening
Owners Luigi Kucica and Joe Honovic are celebrating the grand opening of their newly expanded restaurant and elegant banquet rooms at Ponticello Ristorante. For 22 years, Ponticello has served classic Northern and Southern Italian cuisine to a steady clientele and now, after two years of expansion, construction and decorating, holds its grand opening on September 28. At this gala event, Kucica and Honovic will receive the prestigious 5-Diamond Award for Culinary Excellence from the American Academy of Hospitality Science.
The new restaurant is at least three times the size of the former space and features four private dining areas on separate floors. Each is tastefully and meticulously decorated with loden green carpeting, velveteen chairs and soft lighting. A private V.I.P. room on the lower level, overlooks the climate-controlled wine cellar filled with vintages from all over the world at all price ranges. This private room is lined with rich, wooden bookshelves and feels like one’s own home, making it an ideal place for a small, intimate gathering. Dining rooms on the upper level overlook the bar and main rooms below. What hasn’t changed at Ponticello is the consistently high quality of the food served and the impeccable service and charm of the service staff, consisting of tuxedo-clad waiters. A meal at Ponticello is a consistently pleasant and memorable experience, enhanced by romantic atmosphere and expert service. Consistency is paramount in the restaurant business and Ponticello has mastered this art. I have visited Ponticello several times over the years and am always amazed that my favorite dishes are exactly as I remember them.
Even before we had a chance to decide on our first course, a plate of cured salami and aged parmigiano was swiftly brought to our table along with a loaf of brick oven-baked bread. Our favorite chianti was uncorked and poured, and so another memorable meal began.
The menu offers nearly every dish to be expected at a fine Italian restaurant, all excellently prepared and presented. However, Ponticello prides itself on its daily specials, which incorporate the freshest seasonal ingredients. This is where they truly shine. An appetizer of New Zealand mussels in green and black shells, swimming in a light broth infused with just a touch of brandy, were at their peak of freshness and flavor. I quickly sopped up the aromatic broth with crusty bread.
With so many tempting pasta dishes to choose among, including homemade gnocchi with veal sauce or rich Bolognese sauce, a house specialty, you may want to share one as a first course. The risotto of the day was made with porcini and shitake mushrooms, its woodsy flavors nearly intoxicating. A perfect, ripe avocado was filled with sweet, lump crab meat, providing a balance between flavor and texture. A cool mesclun salad, topped with the season’s sweetest figs and cured prosciutto awakens the taste buds with the yin and yang of sweet and salt together. Seafood salad tosses calamari and octopus with garlic, fragrant olive oil and lemon for a delicious start to a memorable meal. Jumbo shrimp cocktail is also offered.
Ponticello prepares hearty meat dishes from the northern reaches of Italy and Istria that feature plenty of choices in veal and lamb preparation. 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 that covers the homemade gnocchi that accompany the meat. Try this meal to experience the rich flavor and texture of northern Italian cooking. Tender roasted lamb is seasoned with herbs and served with oven roasted potatoes. Roasted rack of lamb cooked to the diner’s liking and served with sautéed vegetables and roasted potatoes is a visual and culinary feast. Filet mignon is cooked to tender, juicy perfection and topped with mushroom sauce. Veal paillard pounded for extra tenderness is served on the bone. Breast of chicken paillard with a wonderful sauce is fork-tender. Calves liver, prepared Venetian style is another northern delicacy. Entrees are served with Ponticello’s homemade crispy, fried potato slices, fresh sautéed vegetables, or an Istrian specialty of mashed potatoes with cabbage, a side dish you must try.
Your waiter will describe the fresh fish selections of the day, such as sea bass, monkfish, swordfish and more, prepared any way you like. My dinner companion raved about the Chilean sea bass broiled with lemon and finished with a touch of white wine, rendering this meaty, white fish so flaky, it melted in the mouth. Lobster is available daily at market prices and plump, jumbo shrimp can be prepared any way you choose.
Please save room for the delicious desserts prepared in house. Ponticello’s own chef creates the creamiest Italian cheesecake I’ve ever had, as well as rum cake, fruity layered cake and creamy flan. Even special desserts change from time to time, so you’ll always be surprised at each visit. Cappuccino or espresso puts the icing on the cake.
Mark you calendars to help celebrate the grand opening of the newly expanded Ponticello at Broadway and 48th Street in Astoria on September 28. Once you see the beautifully appointed restaurant and private banquet rooms you’ll hurry to make reservations for your next affair. Private parties and business dinners will be extra special at Ponticello, where you can choose from several menus.
Come see why Ponticello Ristorante is so deserving of both the 5-Diamond Award and a visit from you and your family and friends.