2011-03-23 / Restaurant of the Week

NAPOLI PIZZA & PASTA

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…it's Napoli Pizza and Pasta and yes, it's amore too! I love Napoli for its "down home" cooking, literally downstairs in a home on the corner of 35th Avenue and 33rd Street in Astoria. Bravo Antonio Petito, who has been serving very generous portions of delicious pasta, chicken, meat and fresh fish and seafood and, of course, their famous pizza, for the last 14 years. The chef prepares all dishes on the spot using Petito's family recipes from Italy. Whoever I bring to Napoli loves it as much as I do. From the dining room that looks like your grandma's kitchen, adorned with memorabilia and maps of southern Italy, to the food, which is "molto buono", a trip to Napoli is awaiting you. Best of all, the prices are so affordable, the whole family can enjoy a traditional Italian meal together.

Some diners order pizza as a first course, but my friend and I enjoyed crispy calamari rings with tangy marinara sauce and a bountiful house salad. Napoli's appetizers ($2 to $6.95) are delicious and offer plenty to share, including house made fried zucchini sticks or mozzarella sticks and nightly specials such as stuffed mushrooms and Caprese salad of sliced, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. A large antipasto salad is tossed with cheeses, olives, salami, peppers and more and goes very well with the hot and crispy garlic bread topped with a sprinkling of fresh parsley. The Caesar salad is also excellent, and can be topped with sliced, grilled chicken breast for a meal unto itself.

Our friendly waitress, Millie, recited the day's specials which were fresh flounder, prepared Francese style or livornese style with tomatoes, olives and capers. Cheese ravioli and meat or cheese tortellini were the pasta specials and we're told the weekends are famous for their seafood pasta. I'll go back for this generous helping of pasta topped with plump shrimp, clams, mussels and tender calamari in homemade tomato sauce. My companion's shrimp scampi over pasta was loaded with plump, tasty shrimp and savory, garlicky scampi sauce. My flounder Francese was fork-tender, flaky and delicious in a delicate lemon butter sauce. The menu offers about a dozen pasta dishes to choose among, from the traditional spaghetti pommodoro with their fabulous tomato sauce to the creamy Alfredo sauce.

Choose your pasta, such as linguine, spaghetti, bow ties, ziti or rigatoni and choose your favorite sauce. Pasta alla Napoli is their specialty, combining plum tomatoes with chunks of tender chicken breast, mushrooms, basil, garlic, white wine and parsley ($8). Rich, meaty Bolognese sauce is delicious with rigatoni and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Linguine or spaghetti with red or white clam sauce, made with juicy clams is another popular dish. ($7.50). Adults and kids alike will enjoy baked manicotti and stuffed shells, filled with fluffy ricotta, and meaty lasagna with lots of melted mozzarella at the low price of $6.50.

Chicken Francese is a classic dish, or try tender chicken Marsala or chicken Milanese with a crispy golden crust. Chicken, shrimp or eggplant parmigiana can be ordered as an entrée or piled onto a hero sandwich, to stay or to go. It all started with Napoli's light, crispy crusted pizza. The phone rings off the hook for pizzas to be delivered or picked up. The classic Margarita, with tomato, basil and mozzarella, is by far the most popular. The Casalinga pizza with fresh eggplant, mozzarella and tomato is one of my favorites. Pizza Bianca is topped with fluffy ricotta and fresh mozzarella.

We shared a tartufo ice cream treat for dessert along with cups of steaming espresso. Zeppoles are made fresh each day and cannolis are filled to order and provide a sweet finish to your meal. Napoli does a brisk catering business with party trays for all your occasions. Order half or full trays of their home style Italian dishes now for your graduation, communion or confirmation party. You can also get extra long hero sandwiches to please the crowd. Napoli Pizza and Pasta is open seven days a week for lunch or dinner and there is free delivery in the area. Lunch time is popular for their fabulous pizza, hot hero sandwiches, calzones, rolls and juicy hamburgers. One taste and you'll be singing the praises of Napoli Pizza and Pasta with its great food, low prices and down home hospitality. Saluti!

NAPOLI PIZZA & PASTA

33-02 35th Avenue  Astoria, NY

718.472.1146

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