2011-09-28 / Restaurant of the Week

Ponticello Ristorante

Since 1982, Ponticello Ristorante has been welcoming residents of the five boroughs and beyond, including celebrities, politicos and heavyweights in the community. Families and friends celebrate special occasions or make any night special as they feast on Ponticello’s superior Italian cuisine, served in first class style. Owners Giuseppe ‘Pepi’ Hanovic and Luigi Kucica achieve excellence and have been awarded so over the years They ensure that your meal is consistently perfect every time, and I can attest to that. With 29 years in business, they’re certainly doing something right!

Ponticello Ristorante exemplifies classic Italian dining. The main dining room resembles a private salon in a grand palazzo with paisley carpet, upholstered walls and a glowing chandelier. Upstairs is a grand hall for large parties, while smaller parties can be accommodated on the main floor. A very private dining room in the “wine cellar” is appropriate for small, intimate parties, flanked by their massive collection of vintages and shelves of books. Milano, head waiter extraordinaire, anticipates your every wish so you rarely have to ask for anything. A plate of complimentary salami and fine quality Reggiano parmigiano is brought to whet your appetite while you sip on a fine wine or cocktail and pore over the menu. Appetizers from the menu include their special stuffed artichoke, almost too pretty to eat and so delicious, thank goodness there’s plenty to share. Baked clams oreganata are seasoned with crispy bread crumbs, olive oil and garlic and you’ll want to soak up those savory juices with crusty Italian bread. Tender asparagus vinaigrette make a light appetizer, as does the insalata with grilled sea scallops. Three big, sweet and juicy scallops are nestled around a lovely salad of mixed baby greens, topped with shaved parmigiano cheese and a bright vinaigrette. This is a wonderful starter, one that you ought to try.

Ponticello redefines pasta by making their own from centuries old recipes. Their gnocchi are lighter than air and their “fuzi” are perfect. Both of these pastas are best when ordered with

Ponticello’s traditional veal sauce that is perfectly seasoned with a rich, home cooked flavor. If I were ever to be granted “a last meal”, this would be it.

Spaghetti carbonara is a classic, along with linguine alle vongole (sweet clams) and meaty tortellini Bolognese.

After each delectable course, the expert staff whisks away dishes and silverware and replaces them unobtrusively. After the wonderful pasta came Ponticello’s signature dish, and my personal favorite; osso buco. A massive veal shank is slow cooked for hours in rich stock until it is reduced to a divine sauce which covers the homemade gnocchi, rice or mashed potatoes that accompany the meat. This dish is consistently perfect from month to month, and year to year, which is the secret to an excellent restaurant. A rack of tender veal is stuffed with savory prosciutto and Fontina cheese for a hearty dish called veal Vadostana ($29.50). Roasted chicken with sausage and potatoes is a comforting dish, especially as cool weather approaches. Entrees are served with Ponticello’s hand-sliced, crispy fried potatoes, fresh sautéed vegetables, or an Istrian specialty of mashed potatoes with Swiss chard, a side dish my companion really enjoyed.

Only the freshest fish is purchased and prepared at Ponticello, such as whole, grilled branzino, salmon basilico, red snapper fillet, and monk fish Livornese, with tomato, onion and olives.

For dessert, share a cool and creamy tartufo ice cream treat, garnished with fresh fruit, Italian cheesecake, pastries and more. Finish off with a fine port wine or digestif and a cup of espresso. Come for a business lunch on weekdays with a $25 prix fixe menu.

Plan your next business or family event at Ponticello, where your guests will be treated like royalty. Ponticello Ristorante provides a singular, memorable dining experience, with its combination of exceptionally good food, impeccable service, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. There are two days left to “Queens Restaurant Week” so run, don’t walk, and enjoy a specially priced three-course meal for just $25., until September 29. Auguri Luigi and Pepi!

46-11 Broadway  Astoria, NY


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