2014-01-15 / Restaurant of the Week

Il Triangolo

For a very special, memorable Valentine’s Day dinner, there are few restaurants in Queens more romantic than Il Triangolo, nestled on a quiet corner of Corona Avenue and Junction Blvd. in Corona. The historic triangular building that it’s housed in dates back to 1916 at a time when a trolley car ran past it. The warm, welcoming interior with its soft lighting, exposed brick, rich draperies and classic Italian family photos invites you to stay for a while and savor the fine meal you’re about to enjoy. The star of the show however, is the Gigliotti Family themselves. Mario heads the front of the house and greets all his guests like celebrities, while his lovely wife Pierina heads the kitchen, creating and re-creating authentic Italian dishes from the old country, with a decidedly modern, inventive twist. To get a better idea of the pride taken in everything they do, I encourage you to visit their Web site and view the YouTube video of this dynamic duo making homemade wine, which they’ll happily serve you at Il Triangolo.

The “short list” of food items that they make on their own includes wine, olive oil pressed on the family farm in Italy, pasta, desserts, house made olive tapenade, mixed with a touch of sun-dried tomatoes and homemade bread on which to spread it. Discovering the dishes on the menu is the best part of any meal at Il Triangolo.

We started with carpaccio di manzo, which are paper-thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth beef served on a bed of tender greens with shaved Parmigiano, drizzled with the house olive oil and a crack of pepper. Buttery mozzarella di bufala is so delicious, served with fresh roasted peppers, olives, prosciutto and basil, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil ($12). Antipasto Calabrese combines slices of house made sorpresata with pecorino Romano cheese, olives and wild mushrooms ($14). 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 highlights these unique flavors. The Il Triangolo salad is also great for sharing, tossed with black olives, roasted red peppers and shaved Parmigiano. Hot appetizers, include vongole oregenata, which are Little Neck Clams topped with bread crumbs and Italian seasonings then baked until crispy and golden ($9). Fried calamari rings are unbelievably light and crisp, served with marinara sauce or spicy fra diavolo sauce. Calamari oreganata is a unique dish made with tender calamari, cannellini beans, shallots, roasted garlic, cherry tomatoes and fennel. All the appetizers are served in generous portions that encourage sharing so order a couple of different ones to sample the bounty of Il Triangolo.

Pasta is crucial in Italian cuisine and Il Triangolo’s homemade pasta is not to be missed. Mario proudly described Tagliolini alla Mamma Angela, a new dish of tagliolini pasta with a rich ragu made from their house made soppressata, tomato and seasonings. This flavorful sauce and toothsome, homemade pasta was outrageously delicious.. One of my favorite pasta names is “strozzapretti” which literally means “priest strangler”. Well, no one gets hurt here with this delicious dish of twisted pasta, chunks of fresh salmon, sautéed cherry tomatoes, shallots, peas, basil and garlic in heavenly white wine sauce ($18). Triangolini pasta “ubriaca” means drunken pasta, as this dish is made with shallots and mushrooms and is finished with spirits for a modern dish. 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. Classic fettuccine alfredo and tortellini all carbonara are crowd pleasers.

For an entrée, we were presented their signature chicken dish called Pollo Frangelico, where a tender, French cut chicken breast is gently sautéed with sweet Frangelico liqueur, shallots, fragrant thyme, bacon and garlic, finished with toasted, slivered almonds…what a treat and the perfect dish for a romantic dinner. Chicken cacciatore is a great winter meal, as is the chicken scarpariello, served on the bone and sautéed with roasted peppers, olive oil, rosemary, garlic and white wine ($19). Try their homemade sausage served hot off the grill with lots of broccoli rabe. The grill renders juicy pork chops and a 20- ounce, aged, prime rib-eye steak too. Tender veal is served in a number of ways including Sorrentino style with eggplant, prosciutto and cheese, piccata style with lemon and capers, and crispy Milanese style. All meat entrees are served with fresh vegetables.

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 similarly or in a light lemon and butter sauce, served with vegetables and roasted potatoes. Shrimp Limoncello is another house favorite, using plump, jumbo shrimp and a zesty sauce made with Limoncello liqueur. Of course you’ll find classic shrimp Francese, scampi and even Parmigiana style.

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, cappuccino, coffee, tea and after dinner cordials.

Il Triangolo is open six days a week for lunch and dinner from noon until 10pm weekdays and until 11pm on weekends (closed Mondays). Lunch is served from 11:30am to 4:00pm and for $12-$14 you can enjoy a pasta dish and a salad, or a personal pizza and a soft drink for just $10. There is valet parking, or 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 Day reservations for a romantic, one-of-a-kind experience. Besides the great food, wine, service and ambience at Il Triangolo, the warmth of the Gigliotti Family is what makes this place so very special. You won’t forget a meal here. Enjoy!

96-01 Corona Avenue  Corona, NY


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