2011-07-06 / Restaurant of the Week

La Vigna Italian Restaurant

La Vigna is a fine Italian restaurant serving exquisitely prepared dishes in a beautifully appointed dining room. Your host and chef, Giuseppe Vitale and son Anthony welcome you to try their delicious cuisine, influenced by the recipes of southern

Italy, from where Giuseppe hails. The elegant dining room features well-dressed tables, wood floors, exposed brick and handsome mirrors. The attentive staff is very pleasant and unobtrusive, allowing for an indulgent meal at affordable prices. There are even two price fixed menus that you can take advantage of and sample many of their best dishes.

La Vigna means “the vine” and you can enjoy a robust glass of wine or your favorite cocktail from the bar while you nibble on some complimentary bruschetta. Chef Giuseppe has many years of experience cooking in some of New York’s finest restaurants. Nine years ago he opened his own place and caters to the tastes of his diners, even creating special dishes on request. The menu changes seasonally to reflect the best that nature has to offer, so everything is at its freshest. Some items always available on the menu are the chef’s homemade mozzarella, pasta and sausage, made with lean cuts of pork. For the first course, I had to try some of that mozzarella and it was buttery and delicious, served with juicy tomatoes, roasted red peppers and basil leaves. Next, a steaming hot bowl of fresh mussels cooked in white wine, parsley and lots of garlic was presented. I made short work of them and soaked up the aromatic juices with artisanal bread ($12.95). Summertime offers carpaccio di salmone, paper thin slices of raw salmon marinated in lemon and olive oil that just melts on your tongue. In the winter, beef carpaccio is available, topped with shaved parmigiano. A gorgeous platter of grilled vegetables (verdure alla griglia) offers the best of summer: zucchini, eggplant, peppers and more, marinated and grilled, drizzled with olive oil and topped with creamy goat cheese ($14). This is the perfect summer appetizer, along with some of that mozzarella. A combination of fried calamari and shrimp is ideal for sharing, crunchy, golden coating with tender calamari and plump shrimp. Anthony says the mango salad is a house favorite owing to the combination of tender greens, mango, prosciutto, mozzarella and honey Dijon dressing.

La Vigna Italian Restaurant La Vigna Italian Restaurant The menu covers entrées for every taste and desire including house made pasta, fresh fish and seafood, meat and chicken. The ravioli with asparagus is made by hand with tender pillows of pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese and asparagus, topped with a buttery sauce, baby shrimp and more asparagus, making this a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. One of my favorite dishes is orecchiete pasta (little ears) with broccoli rabe and sausage and here, this dish is elevated to new heights since Giuseppe makes his own sausage in house. The combination of lean pork and spices make this sausage delicious against the bitter bite of broccoli rabe ($17.50). The gnocchi are also made here and topped with a light sauce of chopped tomatoes, capers, roasted peppers, basil, garlic and oil. The evening’s special pasta was homemade pappardelle with rich meat sauce and I’m told the risotto is excellent, topped with sweet crab meat, arugula and parmigiano cheese ($19.50). Tender cutlets of chicken are layered with prosciutto and eggplant, gently sautéed and topped with mozzarella ($17.95). Medallions of veal are supremely tender, sautéed with wild mushrooms and wine sauce, while the veal capricciosa is breaded and fried, topped with chopped tomato, red onion and balsamic vinegar. Filet mignon is cooked to your order with a crust of peppercorns and brandy cream sauce.

If you prefer fish, try the tilapia fillet stuffed with spinach and goat cheese, sautéed in white wine and garlic. Flaky fillet of sole is stuffed with rock shrimp, crab meat and vegetables for a seafood feast. No wonder this dish is so popular.

There’s a three course prix fixe menu for just $29.95 Monday to Thursday, which allows you to sample some of La Vigna’s best appetizers, pasta course (primi), and meat course (secondi). They’re also offering a 10% discount on parties booked in July and August. Visit their Web site for more information and call to book your party.

Save room for dessert because Chef Giuseppe makes most of those himself, with an impressive apple strudel, creamy tiramisu, chocolate mousse cake and my favorite; Nutella cake made with the decadent chocolate hazelnut spread. A rich espresso or cappuccino and an after dinner liqueur is just the ticket to top off this memorable meal.

La Vigna is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with a fabulous prix fixe lunch for just $15.95 served from 12:00 to 3:30. Don’t forget the $29.95 prix fixe dinner and there is plenty of parking on Metropolitan Avenue. Enjoy a slice of la dolce vita at La Vigna Italian Restaurant. Salute!

100-11 Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills
718.268.4264  www.lavignany.com

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