2013-01-16 / Restaurant of the Week

Il Triangolo

By Teresa Barile

Savor the romantic, old world charm of Il Triangolo, a cozy, jewel of a restaurant in the historic neighborhood of Corona. My companion was immediately impressed with the attention to detail in the warm, inviting dining room which features exposed brick, soft lighting, a ceramic amphora, antique jars and best of all, the Gigliotti Family’s own homemade wine that was served to us. Il Triangolo is named for the architecturally significant triangular building in which it resides, dating 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. Mario and Pierina Gigliotti and their lovely daughter Giusseppina will greet and host you like family while Pierina’s family recipes are re-created in the kitchen to everyone’s delight. Most pastas are homemade and so is the bread, believe it or not. It’s extra delicious when spread with their own house made olive tapenade, mixed with a touch of sundried tomatoes and some special ingredients that I can’t mention!

We let Mario decide the menu for the evening and we were impressed by the Portobello mushroom appetizer framed in a crisp slice of Gruyere cheese, drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction and sprinkled with toasted, slivered almonds…pure art and gustatory joy. You ought to start with a bottle of carefully chosen wine from their list and move right into the tempting antipasti. Buttery mozzarella di bufala is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, served with fresh roasted peppers, olives, prosciutto and basil, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil ($10). Antipasto Calabrese combines slices of house made sopressata (spicy cured meat) with pecorino Romano cheese, olives and wild mushrooms ($12). Insalata di pera e finocchio is an ideal winter salad of arugula, sliced fennel, pears, thyme and shaved Parmigiano with a zesty lemon dressing that ignites the combination of these unique flavors. Hot appetizers, include vongole oreganata, which are little neck clams topped with bread crumbs and Italian seasonings then baked until crispy and golden ($8). Fried calamari rings are unbelievably light and crisp, served with marinara sauce or spicy fra diavolo sauce. Why not share an individual pizza Margherita to start, or try a bowl of homemade soup such as paste e fagioli and get ready for the next course.

Not many restaurants in Queens make handmade pasta and the varieties made here at Il Triangolo are tender and toothsome, yet lighter than air. The special gnocchi of the night fit that category, topped ever so simply with arugula, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, making this dish visually stunning as well as delicious. Fettuccine alla Triangolo is a house favorite and with good reason. Handmade pasta is cooked al dente and topped with a light, creamy sauce of gorgonzola cheese, prosciutto, peas, onion and freshly grated Parmigiano cheese ($17). Ribbon pasta called pappardelle is served with a mélange of fresh zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, peas, roasted garlic and fine olive oil for a great vegetarian option. Spaghetti alla Puttanesca tells a classic tale of wanton women but is a delicious dish made with tomato sauce, anchovies, black olives, capers, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes ($16).

Mario suggested a chicken dish for our “secondo”…an inventive take on chicken rollatini, served standing up and filled with prosciutto, spinach, olive puree and escarole with a balsamic reduction that pleases both the eye and the palate. Veal Sorrentino takes tender scaloppini of veal and layers them with fresh eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella for a savory treat. While chicken parmigiana remains a standard favorite, you ought to try the chicken cacciatore, stewed with tomatoes, white wine, peppers, spinach, roasted garlic and mushrooms for the perfect winter dish. Chicken scarpariello is also delicious, prepared with peppers, olive oil, rosemary, garlic and white wine ($18).

Ask about the fresh fish of the day such as salmon Livornese with black olives and capers or marinara style with cherry tomatoes and marinara sauce. Flaky fillet of sole can be prepared in a light lemon and butter sauce, served with vegetables and roasted potatoes or house salad. Plump, juicy shrimp are prepared Francese style, Parmigiana style, or try Bonanza shrimp with oregano, onion, tomato and garlic. The grill offers sizzling pork chops, veal paillard and Italian sausage, grilled to crispy perfection, served with peppers, onions, and sautéed broccoli rabe ($16).

For dessert, we tried the house made cannoli with light, creamy ricotta filling, but you’ll also find Italian cheesecake, tiramisu or ice cream treats plus delicious espresso. Speaking of sweets, bring your sweetheart to Il Triangolo for a truly romantic Valentine’s dinner or lunch. Special menus are being planned and you can call for your reservation. Il Triangolo is 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, but you can get here easily with the 7 train to Junction Boulevard then walk a few blocks straight to Il Triangolo. Don’t forget to make your Valentine’s reservations for a romantic, delicious, memorable meal. Buon appetito!

96-01 Corona Avenue  Corona, NY


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