2014-08-20 / Restaurant of the Week

Pizza Classica

89-89 Union Turnpike Glendale, NY  718.847.5001

Come one come all to Pizza Classica in Glendale where great Italian food, wine, families, and friends converge for a great lunch or dinner in a fun, friendly environment. Pizza Classica has doubled in size, having taken over the adjacent space one year ago. Now there’s even more room for families, friends and couples to gather and dine in the beautiful dining room decorated with wood beam ceilings, light wood floors and chic lighting. Glass vats of house brewed iced tea and fresh sangria sit on the sleek bar that serves a fine selection of wines and beers from around the world. For all the creature comforts, however, Pizza Classica offers casual dining and great food at reasonable prices.

Rocco, Frank and the friendly staff make everyone feel so welcome. Indeed on a weeknight in August, the place was full of families with well-behaved children enjoying the fabulous pizza, pasta, meat and fish dishes on offer. The list of appetizers, both hot and cold will astound you, but first we had to have a slice of their famous pizza. With over a dozen varieties, the choice wasn’t easy but we went for the classic Margherita, named for the Queen of Napoli, topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil. The pizza “nonna” is Grandma’s own square, thin crusted pizza with marinara sauce, herbs and lots of garlic. Other toppings include mushrooms, eggplant, arugula and prosciutto, vegetables in the primavera pizza and the pizza bianca with three cheeses. These 12-inch brick oven treats start at $9.95 and can be delivered too, so call in your order.

The fried calamari are crispy on the outside, and very tender to eat. The baked clams oreganata are fresh and juicy, redolent with garlic, herbs and crispy bread crumb topping. Eggplant rollatini is one of their house specialties, rolled up with fluffy ricotta. You can share an order as a first course or order it as an entrée, served with pasta or vegetables. Arancini are Sicilian rice balls filled with ground meat, peas and tomato. The crab cakes are great to share as is the Caprese salad made with buttery mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil. Over a dozen salads are on the menu, including Portobello salad over mixed greens, avocado salad, tricolor, Greek salad and baby spinach salad. These generously sized salads are ideal for sharing at the table, or can be an entrée, especially when topped with grilled salmon, chicken, shrimp or steak. The kids will love fried zucchini sticks, mozzarella sticks and crispy chicken fingers.

Pizza Classica offers so many pasta dishes and entrees that deciding can be difficult. Will it be rigatoni Siciliano with eggplant, tomato sauce, fresh basil and ricotta salata, or orecchiete with broccoli rabe, garlic and crumbled sausage? Perhaps spaghetti carbonara is more to your liking with its smoky bacon flavor ($14.95)). Linguine with red or white clam sauce makes a great summer dish as does the frutta di mare with shrimp, clams, calamari and mussels in tomato sauce over a mound of pasta. You’ll probably have to come back for the spinach ravioli, homemade gnocchi with prosciutto, peas and onions, and penne alla vodka with a creamy, tangy sauce. There are baked pasta dishes too, such as homemade manicotti which my companion enjoyed, with plenty for the next day’s lunch ($12.95).

Fresh fish is done to perfection at Pizza Classica, the fillet of sole oreganata I had was so fresh and flaky, and perfectly seasoned with herbs and crisp, golden bread crumbs. You can have a fillet of salmon prepared this way too, or try it Livornese style with a sauce of tomatoes, olives, onions, and capers. Plump, juicy shrimp can be ordered scampi style, sautéed with butter, lemon and white wine, oreganata style, Francese, or parmigiana.

Meat entrées at Pizza Classica include pork chop campagnola with sautéed onions, mushrooms, roasted peppers and potatoes. Rib-eye steaks are cooked to order and can be pan seared with porcini mushroom sauce, peppercorn sauce or Fiorentina style with olive oil and rosemary. Fork-tender cutlets of chicken or veal are prepared over a dozen ways from Marsala style to Romano style with artichokes and pancetta to a simple paillard topped with capriciosa salad. Meat and fish entrees are served with your choice of pasta, house salad, or vegetable of the day, making a meal here a good buy.

Save room for dessert where the kids will devour a chocolate pizza, or try the family’s recipe for tiramisu, served in a wine goblet, crunchy, ricotta filled cannoli, chocolate lava cake or crème brulee.

Lunchtime offers a wide variety of warm, pressed panini sandwiches, hot heros, rolls and, of course, their amazingly good Pizza!

Pizza Classica can cater your next private affair in the restaurant for up to 70 people, or cater off-premises for any number of people. A full catering menu is available on their Web site or in person. Pizza Classica is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, from 11am to 11pm weekdays and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. There’s plenty of free, indoor parking in the shopping center’s garage and you can get some shopping done before or after your meal. For great Italian pizza, pasta, entrees and more, in a family-friendly, comfortable environment, visit Pizza Classica in Glendale, just off Woodhaven Boulevard. www.pizzaclassicany.com

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