Take a trip back in time to Il Triangolo in the historic neighborhood of Corona. This classic, family-owned and operated restaurant gets its name from the notable triangular building which dates back to 1916. A trolley car used to run past it, down Corona Avenue en route to Maspeth at the beginning of the century and you can read about the interesting history of this neighborhood on the menu’s cover. The building has been in the Gigliotti family since the early ‘80s when it was bought by Angelo Gigliotti, an Italian immigrant. His son Mario lovingly restored it to its original grandeur and a meal here is very special. Enjoy old world charm and a cozy dining room that holds less than a dozen tables, dressed in crisp, white linens. Original brick walls were uncovered after years of neglect. Soft lighting and the dulcet tones of Sinatra set the mood and hearken back to a romantic time in early New York City.
Il Triangolo is indeed a family affair, with Mario’s wife, Pierina, re-creating her family recipes for all to enjoy. Daughter Giussepina and son Angelo help out in the dining room and everyone is treated warmly. Everything is made in-house, including the bread, pasta, soups, sauces, desserts and the tantalizing vegetable and eggplant gardiniera that is served as an appetizer. We were even treated to homemade wine and father Angelo’s own olive oil pressed from his orchard in Calabria, Italy.
We started with glasses of wine from an emerald green carafe and for our first course, a sampling of their tantalizing marinated vegetables called giardiniera was brought, along with slices of buttery cheese and their delicious house made bread and olive oil. Other cold antipasti include buttery fresh mozzarella with ripened tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives, prosciutto and basil, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil ($9). Antipasto Calabrese combines slices of house made sopressata (spicy cured meat) with pecorino Romano cheese, olives and wild mushrooms ($8). For hot appetizers, you can’t beat the fried calamari rings served with marinara sauce or spicy fra diavolo. Fresh little neck clams are stuffed with bread crumbs and special seasonings then baked until crispy and golden ($8). Pierina’s homemade soups include handmade tortellini in rich chicken brodo and paste e fagioli that will take the chill out of the coldest day.
In Italy, after antipasto, pasta is typically eaten as a first course. Il Triangolo makes a number of house made pastas with delectable sauces. The fettuccine alla Triangolo is one of my favorites, cooked al dente and topped with a light, creamy sauce of gorgonzola cheese, prosciutto, peas, onion and freshly grated Parmigiano cheese ($15). Another house favorite is the tender, toothsome cavatelli pasta with verdant broccoli rabe and juicy sausage. You’ll want to soak up every drop of this delicious dish with more crusty bread and have another glass of wine. Homemade gnocchi are topped with rich, meaty Bolognese sauce. Few can resist the linguine with clam sauce or the classic spaghetti alla Puttanesca or spaghetti and meatballs in rich ragu.
For your “secondo” there is a nice selection of chicken, meat and fish dishes to choose from. One of the most popular is the vitello Mario’s style. These forktender veal cutlets are pounded thinly and sautéed with smoky pancetta, peas and cherry tomatoes, making this dish a treat for the eyes and the palate. Veal Valdostana is a hefty cut layered with prosciutto and fontina cheese and on Saturday nights you’ll find classic osso buco. Chicken scarpariello is sautéed with peppers, olive oil, rosemary, garlic and white wine. Pan seared chicken breast is topped with mozzarella du buffalo and a reduced red wine sauce ($17). Even picky eaters will love traditional chicken parmigiana, made extra special here with the finest ingredients. Sauteed entrées come with your choice of spaghetti marinara or a house salad. The grill renders marinated chicken breast, juicy skirt steak cooked to order and paillard of veal. Grill entrées are served with vegetables and roasted potatoes or house salad. From the sea comes fresh salmon, broiled with capers, rosemary, garlic and extra virgin olive oil or plump, tender shrimp Francese in a delicate egg batter. Frutti di mare is a bounty of the sea prepared in a light marinara sauce, served over a mound of linguini.
Save room for desserts and don’t feel guilty. Il Triangolo’s desserts are wonderfully light and not overly sweet, allowing the flavor of the fine ingredients to come through. Choose among house made Italian cheesecake, tiramisu, cannoli or specials such as pineapple cake. Cool sorbettos and creamy tartufo ice cream are available too, and a rich espresso is a must to finish your meal in classic style. Bring your Valentine to Il Triangolo, where a very special menu is being prepared at the fixed price of $60 per person for a complete dinner.
You’ll feel like family at Il Triangolo. They’re open six days a week for lunch and dinner from noon until 10pm weekdays and until 11 on weekends (closed Mondays). There is valet parking, and commuters from other parts of Queens and Manhattan can take the 7 train to Junction Boulevard. and walk a couple of blocks straight to Il Triangolo. Don’t forget their very special Valentine’s celebration. Call now for reservations at one of two seatings the evening of February 14th. Si mangia bene a Il Triangolo!
96-01 Corona Avenue Corona, NY