2009-12-02 / Restaurant of the Week

Donato's...Celebrates 10 Years

Donato's is a fine example of the quintessential neighborhood Italian restaurant. Located on a cozy corner in historic Woodside, Donato's attracts a full house of loyal, local customers who flock to the well-made, reliable Italian dishes served in an exceptionally warm and friendly environment. Owner Pablo

and his crew of charming waiters tend to your every need. Indeed the dining room was filled with families and friends, laughter, and “oohs and aahs” from the diners once their meals were placed before them. We were lucky to get a table at this very popular spot celebrating its 10th year in business, serving crispy pizza up front and fine Italian cuisine in the dining room.

Donato's regular menu features everything you'd want in hot and cold antipasto, house made soups, pasta dishes, chicken, veal and fish and seafood dishes galore. As if that doesn't provide enough to choose among, the nightly specials are so tantalizing, especially when described in mouth-watering detail by Luis, one of the fine wait staff. On that festive evening, Porterhouse steak with Portobello mushroom and port wine sauce was one of the specials. A house favorite, veal cappriciosa, features an enormous veal chop, pounded thin, breaded and fried and topped with a bright salad of arugula, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella ($19.95). Whole lobster was on the menu, prepared any way you like. To enhance your meal, there are even featured bottles of wine at special prices.

We started with the evening special appetizer. A huge stuffed artichoke appeared to be in bloom with lots of garlic, bread crumbs and a savory sauce that was perfect for soaking up with warm bread. Our wine was a light, yet full-bodied valpolicella that complemented the flavors of the artichoke. After peeling away each layer, we turned our attention to an order of crispy baked clams, equally delicious and redolent with fresh garlic and a squeeze of lemon. Zuppa di mussels or clams are prepared with their natural juices, wine and marinara sauce ($8). Donato's hot antipasto platter features shrimp, clams, stuffed mushrooms and their excellent eggplant rollatini, filled with fluffy ricotta. Perhaps a cold seafood salad, shrimp cocktail or cold antipasto platter is more to your liking, and there's always plenty to share.

After the first course, the efficient staff whisked away our plates from our table dressed in crisp white linens. I chose a classic Italian dish of linguine with white clam sauce. In fact, the clams were vongole, which are baby clams cooked in their pretty shells to impart their flavor from the sea ($11.95). There are over a dozen pasta dishes to choose from, including tortellini Bolognese with rich meat sauce and linguini alla Pablo with broccoli, garlic, anchovies, olives, capers and grilled chicken ($12). Everyone loves baked ziti, lasagna, manicotti and stuffed shells and Donato's has them all, to eat in or take out. They will swiftly deliver to your home or office, with 5 cars running deliveries day and night.

My dining companion chose a very special “special” a dish prepared with flaky bronzino fish, smothered in fresh clams and mussels in a garlicky tomato sauce that filled our noses with its delectable aroma. Plump shrimp are prepared scampi style, oreganata with bread crumbs and garlic, Francese style or parmigiana style with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella. Tender fillet of sole can be prepared in a number of ways, including Francese style with a light egg batter, lemon and white wine, almondine, with sliced almonds, or finished with a Pernod liqueur sauce. Classic veal and chicken dishes are fork tender and sautéed in butter and wine, or layered with eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella as in the “Sorrentino” dish. The grill renders juicy steaks, pork chops and veal chops at reasonable prices. All meat and fish entrées come with a side dish of spaghetti and marinara sauce, or salad or fries.

At lunchtime, pizzas fly from the oven along with hot heros piled high with chicken and Portobello mushrooms, sausage and peppers, meatballs or eggplant parmigiana. Cold gourmet heros, such as the

“Godfather” pile on ham, prosciutto, capiccola, salami, sopressata and provolone with lettuce, tomato and Italian dressing. Custom catering is offered for all your business and personal events. Full and half trays of all their specialties are delivered hot to make your party a success.

 

For dessert, a gentleman nearby recommended the chocolate cheesecake and we were thrilled with this creamy confection which combined one layer of chocolate cheesecake with one of plain cheesecake, garnished with fresh strawberries. Tiramisu, tartufo ice cream or strawberries and fresh cream put the icing on the cake, as does a lovely after dinner cordial and a steaming cup of coffee or espresso. Completely sated, we enjoyed the brief walk to the 7 train (52nd Street), which makes Donato's a very convenient spot to visit for any occasion, whether it's a special Saturday night or a Tuesday night that you make special by dining at Donato's. Celebrating 10 years of delicious Italian cuisine in charming Woodside, Donato's is one of Queens‘ jewels. Salute!

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