2013-06-05 / Restaurant of the Week


The Verde Family welcomes you to their brand new pizzeria and trattoria called “Forno”, which means “oven” in Italian. It’s from their glowing, brick oven that owner Saverio Verde pulls out his delicious, hand-crafted pizzas ‘by the meter,’ just like in Italy. These long, rectangular shaped, thin crusted pizzas are sold whole or by the slice and made me feel like I was back in Napoli, where the Verde Family originated. Traditional round, Neopolitan pizzas are made here too, in 12-inch or 16-inch sizes, with any or all of your favorite toppings.

Forno Pizzeria and Trattoria is truly a family affair with charming niece Laura and nephew John working in the restaurant that their dad Ciro helped to create. Ciro is already a successful Manhattan restaurateur who helped open Forno in the quiet hamlet of Maspeth, just a few blocks from bustling Queens Boulevard In fact, the Q-18 bus goes from Astoria and passes right in front of this brand new eatery that opened in March. The outdoor patio was perfect for our al fresco meal, but there are about 10 tidy tables inside, along with tile floors, nicely decorated walls and a glass counter that shows off all the fabulous pizza. We even tried Ciro’s own creation called ‘focaccia robiola di Ciro” which is light, crispy focaccia bread stuffed with melted robiola cheese, prosciutto, and arugula for a unique snack or meal. Nearly everything at Forno Pizzeria and Trattoria is made from scratch, including the focaccia bread that is used to make their hefty paninis, the pizza dough, tomato sauce, many of the pastas, and desserts too.

Start with some of their tasty appetizers and get ready for a great meal. “Tegamini” is a family dish, served in a ceramic casserole baked in the brick oven. Tegamini di pesce is an eye dazzling array of fresh shrimp, calamari, scallops and mussels in garlicky tomato sauce that you’ll soak up with their house made ciabatta bread. Fried calamari are light and crunchy, served with spicy marinara sauce ($9.50). Baked clams are fresh and juicy, topped with golden bread crumbs and all appetizers are great for sharing. For something different, try their tender spinach crepes filled with fluffy ricotta and spinach, topped with a four cheese sauce ($7.50). Summer is the perfect time for a Caprese salad composed of buttery house made mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and basil leaves, drizzled with quality olive oil.

Follow your appetizer with one of Forno’s fabulous pasta dishes. Laura suggested the crowd’s favorite fettuccine with mushroom sauce. These homemade pasta noodles are topped with a rich mushroom sauce made with veal stock and a touch of truffle oil that is out of this world ($14). Homemade cavatelli are topped with classic Bolognese sauce made with ground veal. Keep it light with whole wheat linguini topped with fragrant tomato pesto sauce. On Thursdays, homemade gnocchi is featured with creamy gorgonzola sauce, or tossed with fresh eggplant and cubes of mozzarella.

We shared a pasta dish as a first plate, so that we’d have room for their ‘secondi’. For something deliciously different, you simply must try the stuffed chicken breast, filled with a mélange of vegetables and goat cheese, rolled up and sliced for a beautifully presented dish, along with a generous side of creamy mashed potatoes. Classic Italian dishes such as veal or chicken marsala, piccata, francese, as well as the ‘go-to’ Parmigiana will make everyone happy.

Forno Pizzeria and Trattoria has over a dozen and a half Panini to choose among, including grilled chicken and pesto, prosciutto, mortadella, sorpressata, capicola and more. The “A.P.E.” Panini is layered with artichokes, roasted peppers and eggplant with homemade mozzarella for a great vegetarian sandwich ($7).

Enjoy a steaming cup of robust espresso, cappuccino or coffee and nonna’s creamy tiramisu, Nutella pizza, homemade cannolis, or panna cotta.

Forno Pizzeria e Trattoria is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner, or anytime snack. The restaurant is open from 11:30am to 11:00pm Tuesday to Saturday, and 11:30am to 10:00pm Sunday and Monday, and they offer free delivery and catering to your home or office. Drive, take the bus, walk or bike to Forno Pizzeria e Trattoria for great pizzas and upscale quality Italian food, at pizzeria prices. BYOB and buon appetito!

52-27 69th Street, Maspeth


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