2007-12-19 / Restaurant of the Week

Authentic Italian At Cinema Paradiso

36-02 35th Avenue, Astoria • 718-786-6400
by Teresa Barile

A meal at Cinema Paradiso is an intimate expression of one family's love of food

from their native Sicily. Joe and Grazia

Lupo are the proud owners of Cinema

Paradiso, and this spacious, bi-level

restaurant's décor is modeled after the

eponymous Italian film which takes

place in a small town in Sicily. In fact, films are often screened against the large stucco wall in the dining room. A meal at Cinema Paradiso is a very personal experience, as Grazia herself, is the master chef behind all the delicious dishes that come from her own kitchen to yours. Make your Christmas Eve reservations now and enjoy a traditional Italian meal with all the fishes. New Year's Eve reservations are also being accepted for a memorable feast.

From freshly made brick oven pizza to pasta to meat and fish entrées, the food is the star of the show at Cinema Paradiso, accompanied by affordable wines selected by Mr. Lupo. Start with la signora's famous grilled calamari, served on a fresh salad of arugula, radicchio and endive. A Sicilian salad combines fresh string beans, potatoes and tomatoes in a light dressing that bursts with flavor. Eggplant rollatini are filled with fluffy ricotta and their famous tomato sauce, while fresh mussels in spicy red sauce are delicious and great to share, and a basket of toasted garlic bread makes short work of mopping up the juices ($12). Of course, you may start with a hot, crispy pizza, available in individual or full sized pies. You must try Sicilian stuffed bread called "faccia di vecchia" straight out of the oven and topped with olive oil and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Enjoy a lovely Chianti or Montepulciano with your appetizers while you wait for your "primo piatto". Cinema Paradiso offers no less than a dozen pasta dishes each day, plus nightly specials, which may include angel hair pasta that is literally wrapped around plump shrimp with a light garlic and oil sauce with cherry tomatoes and parsley. The white, red and green of the dish is an homage to the Italian flag and comes straight from Grazia's hands. The menu's fresh pasta dishes run from $12 to $16 and are served in generous portions. Handmade lobster ravioli is topped with a light tomato vodka sauce, a nice tangy counterpoint to the sweet lobster meat. Orecchiette, or "little ears" are house made pasta tossed with fresh, plump shrimp and broccoli for a fresh, lively dish. A hearty dish of tri-colored gnocchi with a sauce of four cheeses is delicious and slightly decadent, but you deserve it. Fusilli served with a simple sauce of fresh tomato, basil, garlic and oil is, in many ways, Italian cooking at its finest, especially when the ingredients are the freshest available and the love is cooked right in.

"Secondi piatti", or second dishes include fresh fish, chicken and veal. Flaky flounder fillet is coated in lightly seasoned breadcrumbs and pan fried until golden, then baked in a lemon white wine sauce, served with a medley of freshly sautéed vegetables, which added color and texture to the meal ($23). Pan seared salmon makes for a light and healthy dish, topped with mixed seafood and a smattering of tomato.

Tender veal or chicken is prepared in classic Marsala, Francese and piccata styles or go for the gusto and order a hefty veal chop, pork chop or juicy steak. All dishes are prepared to order and beautifully presented while piping hot.

The Lupo family has been introducing New Yorkers to the wonders of authentic Sicilian cooking for years, not chain restaurant Italian food! This is the Lupo's second restaurant. The first, named "L'Italiano Trattoria" in Bayside Hills, is also family run and very successful. At both establishments, you can be assured a very pleasant and intimate dining experience.

Finish your meal with one of Grazia's own hand made pastries and desserts. Her chocolate mousse cake is sublime as is her Italian cheesecake, made with creamy ricotta. Please call for reservations for Cinema Paradiso's Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve feasts. The fixed price of $70 per person includes a four-course meal with lots of choices (drinks are not included).

Cinema Paradiso is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, making it an ideal spot before or after a movie, or a visit to the Museum of the Moving Image just across the street. They offer free delivery and catering service, both on and off premises for your convenience. Visit Cinema Paradiso for authentic Sicilian dishes in a comfortable setting. Buon appetito!

Return to top

Copyright 1999-2018 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.