2013-02-06 / Restaurant of the Week

FORNO SICILIANO

Forno Siciliano is proud to announce its grand reopening after extensive renovations and now, under new management. Forno Siciliano is a family’s labor of love, serving absolutely delicious pizza, pastas and meat, poultry, and fish dishes using the family’s Sicilian recipes as well as other regional favorites. Run by a warm, hospitable family, siblings Rita, Antonella, and two lovely Maria’s, Forno Siciliano offers homecooked Italian meals, just like nonna. The owners are native Astorians and everyone here is made to feel welcome. The recent grand re-opening was truly a grand affair, attended by dozens of adoring fans.

Recent renovations include a handsome new bar to prepare all your favorite cocktails, beer, and, of course, there’s a fine selection of wines. The cozy, inviting dining room was lovingly hand-painted with vines and creates a pleasant atmosphere in which to dine, along with cloth table linens, comfortable chairs, soft lighting and Italian music. Forno Siciliano is an ideal place for a family gathering, dinner with friends, or an intimate date. Make your reservations today for a romantic Valentine’s dinner here and woo your special someone with a memorable meal. The pizza is legendary, made with the family’s own hand made mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, herbs and your favorite toppings. Order these to go, or they’ll deliver to your home or office.

You’ll see the brick oven when you walk in, glowing with light, crispy pizzas and foccaccia bread. Settle in with a glass of wine and choose among the tempting hot and cold appetizers such as grilled octopus, basted with lemon, or crispy, tender calamari rings, served with the house marinara sauce. A gratin of asparagus with mozzarella and grated parmigiano is a nice way to start, or try their eggplant rollatini, filled with light, fluffy ricotta. Fresh Little Neck clams oreganata are topped with crispy breadcrumbs and baked until golden. Mussels are prepared simply with garlic and oil to allow the natural juices to flavor the dish, which you’ll want to soak up with that wonderful foccaccia. Cold appetizers include their melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella balls called bocconcini with sliced prosciutto. Antipasto rustico offers plenty of prosciutto, parmigiano cheese, mozzarella, olives, tomato and peppers to share. Lots of folks share a pizza as a first course, whether it’s a simple Margherita with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella or the Napoletana with capers, anchovies, mozzarella, and tomato sauce.

There are nearly two dozen pasta dishes on the menu, along with nightly specials, so you’ll want to come back again and again to sample these delicious dishes. One of the house specialties is the rigatoni alla Corte D’Assise, a rich Bolognese sauce with bits of mushrooms, prosciutto and peas. The seasoning is just right and the texture is great. Orecchiette are Barese pasta topped with sautéed broccoli rabe, sausage, garlic and oil for one of my favorite dishes ever. Spaghetti carbonara is a Roman treat, made with egg yolk, pancetta, and onions. Tender ravioli are filled with porcini mushrooms, a touch of cream and parmigiano cheese. Everyone loves the homemade lasagna, layered with ricotta, fresh mozzarella and meat sauce. Linguine is prepared with white or red clam sauce, or try the black linguine with shrimp and spicy tomato sauce. Farfalle are bow tie pasta tossed with chunks of salmon, peas, and a touch of cream and tomato sauce. Whole wheat and gluten-free pastas are available, just ask your friendly server.

This time I tried the tender veal Marsala with mushrooms and could cut it with my fork. The same is true for petto di pollo Francese, with tender chicken cutlets and butter-lemon sauce. Chicken alla Fantasia is layered with smoked mozzarella, eggplant and fresh tomato ($17). Winter is the perfect time for chicken cacciatore, on the bone with peppers, capers, and olives, all stewed in tomato sauce. Keep it light with a grilled chicken breast and salad. The grill sizzles with hefty veal chops, pork chops and rib-eye steaks, all served with a choice of roasted potatoes and vegetable of the day, pasta or a salad.

Ask about the fresh catch of the day, or try flaky fillet of sole oreganata, topped with breadcrumbs and served golden brown and delicious. Salmon with brandy cream sauce is popular too and you’ll always find plump, juicy shrimp on the menu, prepared a number of ways, such as parmigiana, Francese, scampi, or fra diavolo style, with spicy sauce. All dishes are prepared on the spot and served with a smile by the friendly, efficient staff.

At the Grand re-opening festa, neighbors Anna and Jack Chiello, who own Astoria Bakery just next door, donated a beautiful, celebratory cake as well as an eyepopping array of pastries for the crowd. Ask about the desserts, where you may find fruity sorbets, Italian cheesecake, flaky profiteroles, or a Nutella pizza, hot from the forno and oozing with decadent Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread and generously dusted with confectioner’s sugar. The coffee and espresso are delicious too.

Visit Forno Siciliano for lunch where you can enjoy a hearty hero sandwich to stay or to go, filled with veal parmigiana, sausage and peppers, or peppers and eggs. Dine in and enjoy pasta, chicken dishes and many more.

Forno Siciliano is open seven days a week for your dining pleasure. Mondays to Fridays, they open at noon and serve until 10pm (11pm on Fridays). On Saturdays and Sundays, they open at 2pm and serve until 10pm. Valentine’s Day is next week so call now for reservations! Have your next business function or family party here and dazzle your guests with fabulous food and excellent service. Enjoy a bit of la dolce vita at Forno Siciliano… Auguri!

43-19 Ditmars Boulevard
Astoria / 718.267.0790

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