2012-10-17 / Restaurant of the Week

Gaudio’s Pizzeria and Restaurant

By Teresa Barile

Gaudio’s has been a family-run affair and a fixture in Astoria on 30th Avenue, since 1958 when Papa Gaudio first opened this classic Italian restaurant. Gaudio’s recently closed for one month to complete extensive renovations that transformed this neighborhood eatery into a more comfortable, modern restaurant with old world touches. Domenico Gaudio, known as “Nicky” is at the helm and worked closely with designer/builder Joseph Hopkins, from a Long Island firm, to transform this petite dining room into an elegant space that incorporates “old world” touches with modern materials. Indeed I love the dappled walls in shades of ochre, beset with lovely mirrors and wall sconces that emit warm illumination. The molded tin ceiling is reminiscent of architectural details from the past and elegantly hovers over the floors of rough tile. No need to dress up, Gaudio’s is still a casual spot where you can come as you are or have your order delivered. What has not changed is the food…still the best you’ll find in the neighborhood, and at low prices.

Up front you’ll find the pizza kitchen, which also got a nice face-lift. Crowds come in all day and night from 11am to 10pm for the delicious, crispy pizza with all their favorite toppings including sausage, pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, peppers and more. My favorite is “grandma’s pizza” which contains fresh mozzarella and a smattering of fresh tomatoes on a thin, crispy, square crust. Round and square Sicilian pies are available as well as pizza Bianca (white pizza), calzones stuffed with creamy ricotta and sausage rolls. Hero sandwiches made on fresh bread are filled with potatoes and eggs, chicken parmigiana, grilled chicken breast and much more. There’s free delivery to your home or office so make your child’s next birthday party a hit with pizza from Gaudio’s.

For an upscale meal at downscale prices, visit Gaudio’s for dinner. Order a glass of wine, a cold beer, or a soft drink while you take a look at the menu. My dining companion and I started with Gaudio’s delicious baked clams oreganata. A dozen beautiful, fresh clams were brought on a sizzling platter, served whole, topped with crispy breadcrumbs with wedges of lemon. Try those Little Neck clams prepared “possillippo” style with white wine, garlic and herbs for a real treat, then soak up all the delicious broth with Gaudio’s hot-from-the-oven focaccia and Italian bread. Next came my go-to-salad: the picturesque Gaudio salad, composed of crunchy lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes with thin slices of savory salami, prosciutto and provolone cheese, garnished with red, roasted peppers and zesty Italian dressing. The fried calamari is another house favorite and the table next to us devoured theirs in short order ($8.95). On the cool side, a cold antipasto salad contains all your favorite cuts of Italian cured meats and cheeses, along with roasted peppers, mozzarella and ripe olives ($7.95). The kids will love hand cut fried mozzarella sticks, served with marinara sauce for dipping.

Osvaldo, the friendly waiter, described the evening specials such as tilapia marechiara, prepared with a light tomato sauce, onions and olives, or fresh salmon broiled with butter and lemon. All proper Italian meals should feature pasta after the antipasto course and Gaudio’s has over a dozen pasta dishes, from the simplest spaghetti with tomato sauce ($8.95) to linguini with plump shrimp ($12.95). This time we tried tender, toothsome gnocchi with fragrant pesto sauce and it was great. You can also have your gnocchi with tomato sauce. Fettuccine Alfredo is a classic dish as is spaghetti with white or red clam sauce and all dishes are prepared on the spot and served piping hot on glistening white dishes. Even picky kids can’t refuse Gaudio’s spaghetti and meatballs, or a slice of their famous pizza.

Entrées include veal, chicken and seafood specialties and I can’t resist Gaudio’s chicken Francese. These tender cutlets are fork-tender and sautéed with a delicate white wine and lemon sauce ($16.95). You’ll get a side dish of pasta or salad too. Chicken or veal cutlets are prepared in a number of delicious ways including alla Marsala with sweet wine and mushrooms, Francese, Piccata, Parmigiana, Fiorentina with spinach and mozzarella or Milanese style. Plump, tender shrimp are prepared with spicy fra diavolo sauce, garlicky scampi sauce, oreganata style of parmigiana to suit your every taste. Classic meatball and sausage dishes are on hand, including sausage and peppers, and sausage or meatball parmigiana, served on a platter or piled into a hero sandwich.

Try as you might to save some room for dessert where there’s house made Italian cheesecake made with ricotta cheese, tiramisu, cannolis, and chocolate cake. A number of tempting ice cream treats are on hand such as classic Tartufo ice cream, tortoni or the fabulous coconut gelato truffle, coated in rich chocolate with coconut. Pair your dessert with a cup of espresso, coffee or cappuccino and call it a night.

“Since 1958 and still the best” is Gaudio’s motto and I’d have to agree. Stop in for lunch or dinner seven days a week or call for delivery. Professional catering is available to your home or office so leave the cooking to Gaudio’s. Bring a big appetite and a smile when you visit Gaudio’s Pizzeria and Restaurant.

40-13 30th Avenue, Astoria

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