2011-03-09 / Restaurant of the Week

ARMONDO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT CELEBRATING 40 YEARS

We are proud to honor Jerry Crisci, owner of Armondo’s Italian Restaurant in Jackson Heights, who is about to celebrate 40 years in business. That’s quite an accomplishment these days as restaurants come and go with the latest trends in food. There’s nothing trendy about Armondo’s, which is located on the cozy corner of 37th Avenue and 75th Street. Armondo’s epitomizes the “local Italian restaurant”, serving consistently superior Italian cuisine that includes pasta, fresh fish, meat, chicken, and fabulous, inventive nightly specials. Service is top-notch; polite and professional and everything is beautifully presented and served piping hot. The main dining room feels like a comfortable home or you can dine in the glass-enclosed atrium. Best of all, the prices are affordable, making Armondo’s the place to go for a special family meal, business dinner or a romantic date for two.

Jerry knows most of his customers by name and welcomes them with a hug or a handshake and invites them to settle in for a wonderful meal. Weeknights are an especially good time to visit, when a less frenetic pace allows for tranquil dining and some special touches. Wednesday nights feature world class piano music played by Charles Henry, whose repertoire provides the perfect background to your delicious meal. Terrific Tuesdays offer 50% off bottles of wine from their well-stocked cellar.

Our kind waiter, Roberto brought some tasty bruschetta while he recited the tantalizing nightly specials. Handmade ravioli, filled with spinach, mushrooms or chicken are topped with the sauce of your choice. Fresh tuna over a bed

of tender cannellini beans and broccoli rabe sounded delicious, as did the trout almondine. For appetizers, we decided on the special salad of the night composed of arugula, endive, cherry tomatoes and gorgonzola cheese with light vinaigrette dressing. A plate of buttery buffalo mozzarella melted on my tongue, flanked by tender stalks of asparagus and roasted red peppers. This dish reminds me that spring is almost here. From the menu, you simply can’t go wrong with baked clams or clams possilipo in a garlicky sauce, tender, crispy, fried calamari and stuffed mushrooms are all excellent choices. Pasta e fagioli soup is just like

grandma’s. Pasta is an integral part of any Italian meal and the chef at Armondo’s prepares handmade pasta each day. Pappardelle are ribbon pasta that are light with a toothsome texture that holds the meaty Bolognese sauce so well. The same goes for spaghetti carbonara, with its creamy texture and smoky flavor from Italian bacon. I savored tender ravioli; pillows of pasta filled with mushrooms and topped with creamy Alfredo sauce. Linguine with clam sauce, baked ziti and fluffy manicotti are all family favorites.

My dining companion enjoyed the special trout almondine, sautéed to golden perfection in a delicate sauce, then topped with slivered almonds. The accompanying potato croquettes and fresh green beans made the perfect meal. Armondo’s offers the freshest fish and seafood available. Shrimp lovers may choose plump shrimp prepared fra diavolo style, oreganata, parmigiana, Francese or scampi with al dente pasta on the side.

Meat courses include Armondo’s signature “bracciole,” a steak filet that has been pounded thin, then rolled up with cheese, ham and pignoli nuts and cooked in savory tomato sauce. Pork chops Armondo is a very popular dish with two hefty pork chops filled with thinly sliced ham and cheese, then prepared in a savory brown sauce with lots of sliced mushrooms. Tender veal or chicken cutlets are fork-tender and can be prepared a number of ways, such as the always popular Francese, piccata style with capers and lemon, rollatini with ham and cheese, or sorrentino style, with eggplant and cheese. Juicy steak or filet mignon will satisfy the simple “meat and potatoes” person.

With all these options, I can say honestly that Armondo’s has something for everyone, even picky kids, who will gobble up spaghetti and meatballs. Special Wednesday night dishes during the month, include corned beef and cabbage, paella, lamb chops and roast suckling pig. For dessert you simply must try the house tiramisu, which is creamy and delicious. Try to resist baba au rhum, cannolis, Italian ricotta cheesecake and order a robust cup of coffee, espresso or an after dinner cordial.

In addition to running Armondo’s, Jerry Crisci sits on the Board of Directors of the Jacob A. Riis Settlement House in Long Island City. Riis Settlement is a non-profit, community based organization offering services to children, adults, seniors and families in Western Queens. For more information about this worthwhile organization, please visit www.riissettlement.org .

Congratulations on 40 years of delicious food, wine, and warm memories at Armondo’s. Make your weekend reservations now or come on Wednesdays for wonderful music and 50% off wine on Terrific Tuesdays. Thank you Jerry for your commitment to the Western Queens community!

ARMONDO’S

74-27 37th Avenue
Jackson Heights, NY
(718) 429-8552

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