2005-09-22 / Restaurant of the Week

Armondo’s Italian Restaurant Feels Like Home

A visit to Armondo’s Italian Restaurant is like a visit home. I always enjoy going to Armondo’s, where the food is consistently delicious, the service is great and the people are friendly, neighborhood folks. Armondo’s has been on the same corner in Jackson Heights for nearly 32 years, which says a lot, given today’s ever-changing restaurant scene. Owner Jerry Crisci’s commitment to the community makes Armondo’s one of the most welcoming places in the bustling borough of Queens. Families, friends and business people come here to feel at home and enjoy fabulous Italian cuisine, and also for warm attention from Jerry, who is nearly always on hand to meet and greet customers, most of whom he knows by name. A lovely, glass-enclosed dining area that overlooks 75th Street is warm in the winter and opens up in the summer so diners can enjoy a cool breeze.

Carlos, our waiter, brought some warm bruschetta topped with bubbling mozzarella cheese to munch on while we pondered the appetizer selection. We enjoyed a glass of robust Chianti while we read the menu. Two of the evening’s appetizer specials were a generous plate of roasted red peppers with buttery mozzarella di buffalo, which just melts in your mouth, and golden crab cakes packed with sweet crabmeat. The appetizer menu includes baked clams, clams possilipo in a garlicky sauce and clams casino, topped with smoky bacon. Stuffed mushrooms or peppers, provolone and olives and shrimp cocktail make the decision even more difficult, but you can’t go wrong with any of these choices. Homemade soups of the day such as escarole, tortellini in brodo or pasta e fagioli are perfect on a winter night.

Menu items cover such traditional pasta dishes as fettuccine alfredo, pesto or carbonara, linguine with clam sauce and, of course, rich, meaty lasagna. Gnocchi with meat sauce is fabulous, as is Sicilian style ziti with slices of fresh eggplant. Nightly pasta specials too can include fettuccine alfredo with chunks of fresh salmon or saffron-infused seafood risotto brimming with fresh seafood.

Veal or chicken can be prepared in a number of ways, such as francese, cacciatore style with tomatoes and onions or sorrentino style, with eggplant and cheese. One of the evening’s specials featured a hefty lamb shank with fava beans and mashed potatoes, a perfect winter dish. I also love their veal and peppers ($15) or generously sized broiled veal chop. One of Armondo’s signature dishes is bracciole, a steak that has been pounded thin, then rolled up with cheese, ham and pignoli nuts and cooked in rich tomato sauce. Armondo’s bracciole is as good as my grandmother’s. A generous side dish of pasta completes this meal and will satisfy a hearty appetite.

Seafood lovers have many options to choose among, such as tender, plump shrimp prepared any way you like: fra diavolo, oreganata, parmigiana, francese or scampi with loads of garlic. Armondo’s seafood frutta di mare combines lobster tail, shrimp, sole, scallops, mussels and clams in a light sauce over pasta. Your waiter will also describe the nightly fish specials.

If that isn’t enough to choose from, a special dish is featured on each Wednesday of every month. The first Wednesday is Irish night, with corned beef and cabbage. The second Wednesday offers juicy lamb chops, while the third Wednesday has a festival of Spanish paella. On the fourth Wednesday, a feast of roast suckling pig with all the trimmings, including Armondo’s famous potato croquettes and sautéed vegetables, ensues.

You’ll want to save room for dessert where you’ll decide among creamy Italian ricotta cheesecake, homemade tiramisu, Italian pastries and biscotti, chocolate mousse cake and more. Armondo’s makes a great cup of espresso to complete a fabulous meal and offers after dinner cordials as well. To serve the community best, Armondo’s is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with economical lunch specials each day. Start the new year off right with a visit to this local corner Italian restaurant and tell Jerry we sent you!

…where the food is

consistently delicious,

the service is great and the

people are friendly,

neighborhood folks

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