2006-12-06 / Restaurant of the Week


Cassino Italian Restaurant Has Good Food, Long History
by Teresa Barile

f or 47 years, Cassino Italian Restaurant and Lounge has occupied the corner of Vernon Boulevard and 47th Road. Founder Sal

Cassino Italian Restaurant and Lounge 47-18 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City  718.937.9662 Cassino Italian Restaurant and Lounge 47-18 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City  718.937.9662 Anzalone, an Italian immigrant, spent

much of his life in this restaurant, meeting and greeting friends and neighbors and talking about concerns of the Long Island City community. Anzalone became a member of the local community board, sat on the New York 2012 committee to bring the Olympic Games to New York and was a community activist and advocate for many years. After he died last year, a street corner was named after this legendary man, just next to his beloved restaurant. His son, Andrew Anzalone, and Andrew's wife, Rosemary, have taken over the restaurant and recently held a grand reopening with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by City Councilmember Eric Gioia.

Cassino Restaurant epitomizes the neighborhood corner Italian restaurant, complete with friendly folks, good food, and a bar that stays open late. The back of the restaurant opens onto a lovely outdoor patio with white tables, chairs and shady umbrellas are lit up at night. Take advantage of this oasis on a hot summer night and enjoy a good Italian meal al fresco. A brightly painted mural features several members of the Anzalone family, including the legendary Sal himself. A spacious interior dining room has plenty of room for a private party, even one with a DJ.

Cassino offers classic southern Italian dishes, pizza and hero sandwiches on their open days, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Start with crisp baked clams right from the broiler or their famous garlic bread, with or without melted mozzarella. An antipasto platter is a great way to start, and both hot and cold varieties are available. Freshly tossed salads and special seafood salads often appear on the blackboard outside.

Cassino's pasta is just like grandma's, and much of it is house made. Sheets of tender wide noodles are layered into a rich and satisfying lasagna that will leave plenty for another meal. Those same sheets of house made pasta are rolled into manicotti, filled with light, fluffy ricotta cheese and herbs, then topped with a savory marinara sauce. The handmade gnocchi were prepared with broccoli rabe and Italian sausage and sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Cavatelli pasta resemble rolled up dumplings and can be ordered with choice of meat sauce, marinara sauce or garlic and oil. The prices are so low you'll have to see them to believe them, with most pasta dishes at around $8.

Chicken, meat and fish dishes are served with choice of pasta, salad or French fries and include tender chicken or veal Francese, Milanese with lemon, parmigiana or Marsala style with sweet wine sauce. Hefty rib-eye steaks, pork chops, or lamb chops are cooked to order to satisfy any big appetite. Cassino does a nice job with fresh calamari, scungilli and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce, or white sauce. Shrimp is also prepared five different ways, including scampi, Francese or fra diavolo.

A surprising Taste of Dominican Flavor offered on Thursdays and Fridays has been a big hit, with roast pork called pernil or roast chicken as the main course. Sides such as rice and beans and plantains match up well with the succulent meat, and Rosemary mixes a mean pitcher of sangria. These Dominican delicacies are available for lunch and dinner, Thursdays and Fridays only.

Stop in Tuesday through Saturday for lunch. Their hot and cold heros are very popular. Order a large pizza for just $10, or top it off with pepperoni, sausage or mushrooms for only a little more.

After your meal, enjoy a steaming cup of cappuccino, espresso or American coffee with a crisp cannoli, cool tartufo or tortoni ice cream. Dee Dee, the friendly manager, is always on hand to take care of you.

The legend continues at Cassino Italian Restaurant and Lounge, where you'll find good food, friendly people and a charming outdoor patio for summer dining. Classic Italian dishes are served five days a week, and a Taste of Dominican Flavor is served on Thursdays and Fridays. Cassino is closed Sundays and Mondays. Major credit cards are accepted. Book your private party now.

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