2014-03-05 / Restaurant of the Week


It’s no wonder that so many on-line review sites, blogs, print magazines and newspapers like the Gazette consider Basil Brick Oven Pizza to be among the best in Queens. Just visit their website and the front page tells the whole story. Chef Daniele works his magic at the hearth of a huge, wood burning, brick oven that renders light, crisp flavorful pizzas and foccaccia, using his homemade dough, fresh mozzarella, and dozens of other ingredients that you may or may not expect on a pizza. With 55 varieties, you can come more than once a week and never have the same pizza twice…unless you want to, of course.

The warm, rustic interior features original, exposed brick, sturdy tables, antique mirrors, and soft lighting in which to enjoy a romantic dinner with your special someone, a collegial dinner with friends, or a joyous family meal. Consistency is the key to the restaurant’s success. Owners and brothers Joe and Vito Giannola and Chef Daniele provide consistently delicious pizza, pasta and entrees using only the freshest ingredients and recipes from Daniele’s Piemonte region of Italy. Indeed everyone has their favorite pizza with toppings such as sweet sausage and onions, the Piemonte with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, mushrooms, Reggiano Parmigiano and basil, or the pear and gorgonzola. My charming companion and I enjoyed the Quattro formaggi, topped with four cheeses: fresh mozzarella, fontina, gorgonzola and Pecorino Romano. The bubbly goodness atop the light, crisp crust full of tasty air pockets was heavenly. Pizzas are available for fast, free delivery, along with their pasta dishes and entrées.

We sipped on Nero D’Avolo, a fruity red wine from Sicily while a steaming platter of mussels arrived, swimming in a heady garlic and chunky tomato sauce. These big, meaty mussels were so fresh and plump, they practically leapt out of their shells and into our mouths, followed by triangles of warm foccaccia from the brick oven. The special baby octopus of the night was prepared with a similar sauce laced with juicy capers. Shrimp scampi is another great starter to share or you may split an Antipasto Misto which offers a generous platter of slices of prosciutto di Parma, Portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, Reggiano Parmigiano cheese and olives ($12). The classic Caprese salad layers buttery mozzarella with tomato slices and basil, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil ($9). Insalata Rustica tossed fresh spinach with goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, cranberries and sliced apples, served with a bright, orange vinaigrette dressing, making this the perfect winter salad.

Pasta dishes are prepared to order and served piping hot in generous portions. Twirl your fork into al dente fettuccine al Antonio topped with rich Ragu and a touch of cream, sautéed mushrooms and Parmigiano cheese ($12). Toothsome risotto is prepared with seafood; clams, mussels, shrimp and calamari, or with radicchio, speck (cured ham) and creamy mascarpone cheese ($17). Lobster ravioli are tender pillows of joy, topped with a delicate pink sauce, shallots and shrimp, while spaghetti alle vongole (clams) is prepared with your choice of tomato sauce or garlic and oil.

“Secondi” or entrées include meat, chicken and fish options, all cooked to order and beautifully presented on gleaming white plates. Our rack of lamb was cooked to perfection and served with a sprig of fragrant rosemary. This baby lamb is so tender, it melts in your mouth. The accompanying oven-roasted potatoes and sautéed broccoli rabe made the perfect side dishes. Nearby diners devoured the 15-ounce rib eye steak, and the pollo alla Valdostana is chicken breast layered with prosciutto and fontina cheese, gently rolled and sautéed ($18). Go for the ovenroasted Atlantic salmon topped with bread crumbs, zucchini, bacon and Portobello mushroom, or the delicate filet of sole with lemon, white wine, olives and capers.

Come for lunch and enjoy a pizza or one of their tempting Panini sandwiches constructed on fresh, crusty bread. The veggie has roasted red peppers, zucchini, eggplant, artichokes and fresh mozzarella, white the “Polpettone” is chock full of homemade meatballs that are tender and perfectly seasoned, mozzarella and a touch of tomato sauce. Foccaccia with speck, prosciutto, or mortadella make a nice lunch or snack too.

“Dolci” or desserts such as the chef’s famous tiramisu, panna cotta or ricotta cheesecake finish your meal nicely along with a steaming cup of espresso or cappuccino. You’ll also find Italian style ice cream, pastries such as cannoli, and chocolate fudge cake.

The buzzing dining room is proof that so many people can’t be wrong when they say they find Basil Brick Oven Pizza to be the best in Queens. Besides the fabulous pizza, Basil offers consistently delicious pasta, salads, entrées and sandwiches to eat in the lovely dining room or for delivery to your home or office. Basil Brick Oven Pizza is open six days a week, closed on Wednesdays. You can follow them on Face Book but you really should just visit them on Astoria Blvd., just a stone’s throw from the Astoria Blvd. stop on the N/Q trains. Auguri Basil Brick Oven Pizza!

28-17 Astoria Blvd., Astoria


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