Apicius Italian Cuisine Is Hidden Treasure
n the quiet end of Steinway
hidden treasure awaits. At
Apicius Italian Cuisine,
named after Apicius, an ancient
Roman chef who was born in 25 B.C. O
and spent his short life preparing extravagant dishes to please the Roman emperors, the food is fit for kings and queens. You'll dine like royalty in this casual, yet well-appointed restaurant, painted in Tuscan colors including terra cotta and sage with sheer curtains at the windows. Richard Pastula is now at the helm, with years of experience in the restaurant business, despite his youth. Whether you're having an intimate dinner for two or a family meal, you'll be amazed by the caliber of food and service at this small, cozy restaurant.
Let your feast begin with a nice bottle of wine and some of Apicius' tempting appetizers. Baked fresh clams are topped with garlicky breadcrumbs that exude savory juices to be soaked up with warm, crusty bread or the chef's garlic knots. Grilled Portobello mushroom with shaved Pecorino Romano cheese and grilled seasonal vegetables can be shared, while the eggplant rollatini could be a meal in itself. Homemade soups such as Tuscan vegetable or traditional minestrone are popular, especially at lunch. I enjoyed a fresh arugula salad, beautifully presented with shavings of Pecorino, walnut halves and house made balsamic vinaigrette ($7.95).
If you like seafood, you'll appreciate the fresh fish, shrimp and clams that Pastula buys personally for his menu items and daily specials each day. Apicius' chef prepares a number of specials each day, such as Chilean sea bass sauted with spinach, calamata olives and a touch of fresh tomato. Even the leftovers I took home and reheated the next day tasted great. Striped bass fillet, porgy, grouper and king crab legs all appear as specials when they are freshest at market. Plump shrimp are prepared nearly any way you'd like, be it grilled, scampi, Francese or fra diavolo style, all served with choice of pasta for around $13.95.
Entrees also include veal, chicken and pork, and, of course, pasta and risotto. Chicken Apicius combines rustic ingredients for one hearty meal, crisp roasted chicken with a side portion of country fresh broccoli rabe and fresh cannellini beans ($13.95). Classic dishes such as Chicken Marsala and Francese are all prepared on the spot, as is chicken or veal piccata with tangy capers. Veal Apicius made with sage leaves, bay leaf and olive oil is another popular dish. A customer at a nearby table devoured one of the many nightly specials, a juicy, 10-ounce filet mignon, cooked to perfection and served with creamy risotto and vegetables.
Pasta dishes range from $6.95 to $14.90 and include fettuccine Romano with prosciutto, peas and a touch of cream ($9.50). Spaghetti carbonara is another classic Roman dish made with Italian bacon, chopped onion, egg yolk and lots of Parmigiano for a delicious dish meant for the gods. Creamy, toothsome risotto is prepared with wild mushrooms and herbs, with shrimp and radicchio or with shrimp and chicken; each is an excellent choice. Baked pasta such as ziti, manicotti and lasagna are also on the menu to please nearly everyone. No matter what your order, the service is very courteous and the food is always piping hot when it reaches your table.
Indulge in house made Italian ricotta cheesecake, crme brulee, or aptly named "chocolate commotion", a sinfully rich melted chocolate souffl. Espresso, cappuccino and coffee are also served. At lunchtime, stop in for anything from a personal sized, freshly baked pizza to a panino sandwich stuffed with roasted veggies, chicken or Portobello mushrooms and mozzarella. You can also order just a slice of pizza with your favorite toppings, or an overstuffed hero sandwich.
Apicius will deliver hot, crisp pies fresh from their full-scale pizza oven or any of their entrees for no charge to your home or office. Dine in comfort in their pleasant dining room or order a meal to take out as well. Apicius is open for lunch and dinner from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. weekends. Eat like a king or queen at Apicius Italian Cuisine.