2007-06-13 / Restaurant of the Week

Sac's Place For Fine Italian Cuisine and Coal Oven Pizzas

25-41 Broadway / Astoria / (718) 204-5002
by Teresa Barile
Sac's Place For Fine Italian Cuisine and Coal Oven Pizzas

Not only is Sac's Place one of the few remaining coal oven pizza restaurants in New York City, it also has a complete menu of sumptuous Italian dishes to enjoy in its charming, comfortable dining room. Nearly 18 years ago, brothers Anthony and Domenico Sacramone opened Sac's Place with the dream of sharing their family's favorite dishes from the Abbruzzo region of southern Italy with the community in which they grew up. Flanked by mountains and sea, Abbruzzo is notable for its unique and flavorful cuisine based on simple, fresh ingredients including pasta, fish, meat and chicken.

A friendly crowd of regular clientele and newcomers assembles at the handsome, granite bar, while the coal oven turns out hundreds of crisp, thin-crusted pizza with your favorite toppings. Recently voted "Best Pizza" by a prominent New York area newspaper, these delicate-crusted pizzas can be ordered in an individual 10-inch size, 14-inch or 18-inch for all to share. They make a fantastic appetizer before dinner and Sac's Place pizzas can be ordered to eat in or have them delivered to your home or office.

Besides all the wonderful dishes and nightly specials, Sac's Place has an impressive wine list that rivals those found in New York's finest restaurants. Hearty reds, whites and crisp rosés are imported from Italy, France, Argentina, Chile and California to satisfy all tastes and budgets, with bottles starting at just $18.

Antipasti include seasonal favorites such as tender, young asparagus wrapped in savory prosciutto with a sprinkling of parmigiano. The little neck clams were the meatiest I've seen, steamed with garlic, parsley and white wine. Fortunately, you'll find plenty of warm focaccia bread from the coal oven to soak up every drop of this aromatic sauce ($10.95). Tender shrimp a la "Sac" are lightly dusted with flour and fried, then sprinkled with lemon and vinegar for an exquisite first dish ($10.95). Portobello mushrooms are sautéed in garlic and white wine and taste like steak, while buttery bocconcini mozzarella balls are paired with juicy tomatoes, then drizzled with olive oil and herbs. The delicious salad of the evening combined tender red and green leaf lettuces with baby asparagus, cherry tomatoes and slices of Portobello mushroom for a flavorful starter.

Mamma Sacramone comes in each day to make her "lighter than air" gnocchi by hand. These tender morsels of potato pasta can be topped with a creamy sauce of four cheeses, or the family recipe tomato ragu. You can even share an order with your companion as a first course. Ravioli are rolled out by hand and contain fillings such as fluffy ricotta, wild mushrooms, spinach, or lobster. Next time I'll try ravioli filled with fire-roasted vegetables and walnuts in cognac sauce. Your friendly, efficient waiter will tell you about the special pastas and entrées for the evening.

Pork chops were featured that evening, grilled to juicy perfection and served with roasted potatoes and vegetables. Chicken or veal Marsala is always a big hit, sautéed with freshly sliced mushrooms and a hint of sweet Marsala wine. Chicken rollatini is a house specialty, rolled with fresh spinach and mozzarella, then held together with a toothpick and topped with a brown sauce. Tender chicken breast may also be sautéed with sweet yellow and red tomatoes and mushrooms in a light chardonnay sauce.

There are always plump, juicy shrimp dishes on the menu like fra diavolo, with a freshly made spicy marinara sauce and mussels and clams thrown in for extra flavor. Fish dishes are featured as specials to ensure the best the day's market has to offer, so listen closely as your friendly waiter describes them.

If you're planning a private party, Sac's Place has a special catering menu for off-premises catering, and can also accommodate a party of 60 in the restaurant. Call in advance for a customized menu with fabulous freshly made Italian cuisine and fine wines to impress your guests.

Stop in for lunch where, besides their legendary coal oven pizza, you can try a puffy calzone, filled with ricotta, pepperoni, sausage or broccoli. Hero sandwiches are filled with veal cutlet parmigiana, chicken cutlets, veal and peppers, and lots more, starting at $5.95.

Sac's Place is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner until 11pm weeknights and midnight on weekends with free delivery. Don't forget to plan your next party with Domenico and Anthony Sacramone who say, "Life's too short to eat anywhere else." Taste the love of family and the flavors of Italy in every delicious dish at Sac's Place.

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