2008-02-27 / Restaurant of the Week

Armondo's Italian Restaurant

74-27 37th Ave., Jackson Heights 718-429-8552
by Teresa Barile

Armondo's Italian Restaurant epitomizes the neighborhood Italian restaurant, occupying a prominent corner on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights. Owner Jerry Crisci makes all of his  guests feel at home; it's no wonder he is so well-liked by his steady clientele which includes local politicians, friends and neighbors from the community and fans who have come from far away for some of the best, homestyle Italian cooking for the past 35 years!

The cozy, comfortable dining room is softly lit and decorated in warm colors and plush carpeting. Sit back and relax while the efficient, well-dressed waiters bring you a plate of bruschetta to nibble on while you decide among the tempting items on the menu. Enjoy a cocktail or a glass of fine wine from the reasonably priced wine list. You'll hang on every word as your waiter recites the specials of the evening which may include an appetizer of roasted red peppers paired with buttery mozzarella, or grilled Portobello mushroom topped with mozzarella and balsamic reduction. Crunchy rings of fried calamari are very popular as are golden baked clams, which are whole, juicy clams with seasoned bread crumbs on top or try clams casino, topped with smoky bacon. Order an assortment of hot or cold appetizers to please the table or warm up with homemade soup such as pasta e fagioli. The now famous Armondo salad is tossed with fresh greens, mandarin orange slices, walnuts and creamy goat cheese for a wonderful mélange of flavors and textures.

Whether you desire pasta, meat, fish or chicken, Armondo's expert chefs will please everyone. Traditional pasta dishes come to life here such as spaghetti carbonara, a dish which originates from Rome and I indulged in here. The creamy texture and smoky flavor from the prosciutto and bacon hit the spot on a chilly winter night. Fettuccine Alfredo, with its decadent cream sauce or a house favorite, linguine with clam sauce are just some of the pasta choices available. Special ravioli dishes are offered nearly every night, with different fillings that include wild mushroom or chicken, roasted pepper and mozzarella.

Mr. Crisci purchases only the freshest, highest quality ingredients for his restaurant. Fresh fish selections include salmon, prepared in Dijon mustard sauce, Italian style with a light white wine and lemon sauce, or simply broiled ($22). Enjoy a light and flavorful fillet of trout, sole or halibut with Armondo's famous potato croquettes and vegetable ($21).

Seafood lovers have many options to choose among such as tender, plump shrimp prepared any way you like; fra diavolo, oreganata, parmigiana, Francese or scampi with loads of garlic. Cappellini or angel hair pasta are topped with a bounty of fresh shrimp and clams in a zesty tomato sauce.

One of Armondo's signature dishes is "bracciole", a steak filet that has been pounded thin, then rolled up with cheese, ham and pignoli nuts and cooked in savory tomato sauce. Armondo's bracciole is so tender and succulent, it cuts with a fork. Served with your choice of pasta, this traditional Italian dish never fails to please. Pork chops Armondo is very popular among carnivores, where two hefty pork chops are filled with thinly sliced ham and cheese, then prepared in a savory brown sauce with lots of sliced mushrooms. Veal or chicken can be prepared a number of ways, such as the always popular Francese, piccata style with capers and lemon, or Sorrentino style, with eggplant and cheese.

Spice up the middle of your week at Armondo's when each Wednesday of every month features a special dish. The first Wednesday is Irish night, with corned beef and cabbage. The second Wednesday offers juicy lamb chops, while the third Thursday has a festival of Spanish paella. On the fourth Wednesday, a Roman feast of roast suckling pig with all the trimmings, including Armondo's famous potato croquettes and sautéed vegetables will brighten your week.

As impossible as it seems, you simply must have dessert because the house made tiramisu and creamy Italian ricotta cheese cake are not to be skipped. Paired with a robust cup of espresso or an after-dinner cordial, you will rise from the table feeling like a king, especially given the consistently excellent service. Armondo's is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with business lunch specials each day. For fine Italian cuisine, a warm and friendly atmosphere, excellent service and a warm style from Jerry Crisci, visit Armondo's soon. Buon appetito!


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