2007-03-07 / Restaurant of the Week

ARMONDO'S

Armondo's Is Jackson Heights Dining Tradition

74-27 37th Ave., Jackson Heights

718-429-8552 Avisit to Armondo's Italian Restaurant is like a visit home. The food is consistently delicious, the service

is great and the patrons are

friendly, neighborhood folks. Armondo's has been on the same corner in Jackson Heights for nearly 40

years, which says

a lot,

g i v e n

today's fastchanging

restaurant scene. Owner Jerry Crisci has been at the helm for 34 years and his commitment to his clientele and the community makes

Armondo's a very special,

comfortable

p l a c e in which to dine. Families, friends and business people come here to feel at home and enjoy fabulous Italian cuisine and also for the warm attention from Crisci, who oversees every aspect of his restaurant while he meets and greets customers, most of whom he knows by name. A lovely, glass-enclosed dining area that overlooks 75th Street is warm and cozy in the winter and opens up in the summer to catch cool breezes.

Relax in the dining room with a cocktail or a glass of wine while the

waiters bring you a plate of warm

bruschetta to nibble on while you

read the menu. The Armondo

salad features mixed baby

greens, goat cheese, walnuts and sweet orange slices for

counterpoint. The menu's

appetizers include crispy

baked clams or clams possilipo,

in a garlicky sauce, or

clams casino, topped with smoky

bacon. Stuffed mushrooms or peppers,

provolone and olives and shrimp cocktail make this decision even more difficult, but you can't go wrong with any of these choices. On the evening we visited, one of the special appetizers featured tender asparagus paired with buttery mozzarella balls called bocconcini, topped with red onion and a tangy balsamic dressing. Homemade soups of the day such as escarole or tortellini in brodo or pasta e fagioli taste like grandma's.

The blackboard outside announced the specials of the evening. Parsley fettuccine

with shrimp, clams and scallops

were offered with a choice of

red sauce, or garlic and oil. I

chose the latter and was thrilled

with the freshness of the

seafood and the tender texture

of the handmade pasta.

Handmade ravioli were filled

with either chicken or wild

mushrooms and offered with

choice of sauce. The tender pillows

of pasta were lighter than air.

The fish special of the night was tender,

flaky tilapia sautéed with white wine and capers and served on a bed of spinach. Menu items also include traditional pasta dishes such 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.

One of the house specialties is pork chops Armondo. Two hefty pork chops are filled with thinly sliced ham and cheese, then prepared in a savory brown sauce with lots of sliced mushrooms ($19). Veal or chicken can be prepared a number of ways, such as Francese, cacciatore with tomatoes and onions or Sorrentino with eggplant and cheese. Big eaters will enjoy the broiled veal chop, cooked to perfection.

One of Armondo's signature dishes is bracciole, a boneless steak that has been pounded thin, spread with cheese, ham and pignoli nuts, then rolled and cooked in rich tomato sauce. Armondo's bracciole is as good as my grandmother's and a generous side dish of pasta completes this meal and will satisfy a hearty appetite. Armondo's seafood frutta di mare combines lobster tail, shrimp, sole, scallops, mussels and clams in a light sauce over pasta.

Treat yourself to a midweek break at Armondo's. On each Wednesday a special dish in addition to the abundant menu is featured. The first Wednesday is Irish night, with corned beef and cabbage, the second Wednesday features juicy lamb chops, while the third Thursday 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, is offered.

You'll want to save room for dessert. Choices include creamy Italian ricotta cheesecake, homemade tiramisu, cannoli or chocolate mousse cake. Armondo's makes a great cup of espresso or cappuccino to complete a fabulous meal and offers after-dinner cordials as well.

Armondo's is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with economical lunch specials each day. They also deliver free of charge, within a 10- block radius.

Offering consistently delicious food, great service and a recently redecorated dining room, Crisci welcomes you to Armondo's Ristorante Italiano, serving the Jackson Heights community for 40 years.

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