2016-02-24 / Restaurant of the Week

La Vigna Italian Restaurant

Like grapevines themselves, La Vigna Italian Restaurant changes with each season. Thanks to the genius of Chef Giuseppe Vitale, the menu at La Vigna is always changing, evolving, and maturing to meet the desires of the ever-loyal clientele that comes to enjoy superior Italian cuisine from all regions of Italy, cooked with pride by this skilled, Neapolitan chef. Even on a chilly weeknight, the cozy dining room was nearly full with happy couples, friends, and families ordering their favorite dishes. Candle glow against the antique mirrors illuminates the well-dressed tables and creates a very warm, inviting atmosphere.

La Vigna opened nearly 14 years ago and son Anthony leads the front of the house with an expert staff that includes the friendly and helpful Vinny, who described the evening’s specials in tantalizing detail and will make suggestions if you need them. Make it easy on yourself with a very economical

4-course dinner for just $29.95 served from 3pm onwards that includes an appetizer, soup or salad, choice of entrée, and dessert. If you’ve never been here this is a great way to get acquainted with the fabulous cuisine, all served with grace and a casual sense of humor.

Nightly specials are part of the reason La Vigna is so special. Take what’s fresh, seasonal, and at its peak of flavor and create something wonderful. An appetizer of baby octopus in tomato was tender and tasty, served over toasted Italian bread to absorb the zesty sauce. Fresh clams and mussels are served in a garlicky white wine sauce or tomato broth and you’ll use the warm, crusty bread to soak up all those delicious juices. Tender, sweet crab cakes are gently pan-fried until golden and served on a bed of greens with homemade tartar sauce. A fresh, vibrant salad of mango with mixed greens, prosciutto, and buttery mozzarella provided a nice juxtaposition of flavors and textures. Share a platter of colorful, grilled vegetables served with creamy goat cheese, drizzled with fine olive oil. The hot antipasto platter is a table-pleaser for two or more that includes fluffy eggplant rollatini, crispy baked clams, mussels and shrimp. Hot, homemade soup like pasta e fagioli or stracciatelli will warm your soul on these lingering winter nights. Pasta is eaten as a first course in Italy but you can have it as your main course here. We shared an order to start because we couldn’t miss out on the orechiette (little ears) pasta with savory Italian sausage and bitter broccoli rabe. This is just one of La Vigna’s signature pasta dishes that include cavatelli with sautéed zucchini, homemade sausage, and basil and linguine with clam sauce. The special ravioli of the night were filled with asparagus and ricotta and topped with butter, garlic, more asparagus tips and plump shrimp. Handmade taglierini were topped with mussels, clams, shrimp, and calamari with your choice of light tomato sauce or garlic and oil.

The meat specials are overwhelmingly tempting. Just try to decide among oven-roasted rack of veal with fresh rosemary, New Zealand rack of baby lamb with Barolo wine reduction and mushrooms, and veal or lamb ossobuco over risotto. We opted for the ossobuco which was slowly cooked so that the meat came away from the bone with a nudge from your fork. The creamy risotto below absorbed the delectable sauce which took hours to develop. Tender chicken marsala or Francese cuts with a fork or try the special stuffed chicken breast layered with prosciutto and cheese, topped with a light brown sauce laced with artichoke hearts.

Fresh fish and seafood are featured prominently at La Vigna where you can always find pan-seared salmon fillet with Dijon mustard sauce, and shrimp prepared anyway you like. The fish special was Corvina fish prepared marechiara style with tomato, onions, garlic, and olives. All fish and meat entrées are served with either pasta or potatoes and vegetables and everything is beautifully presented to you steaming hot, on gleaming white plates.

The chef’s homemade biscotti are ideal for dipping into coffee, espresso, or an after dinner cordial, but you should still try one of his desserts such as Black Forest cake with cherries and fresh cream, chocolate mousse cake, tiramisu, or homemade Nutella cake.

Make your reservations for Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday dinner with the family at La Vigna where you simply can’t make it better yourself, so why try? During the week, there’s a great lunch special served from 12-3pm for just $15.95 and Business Luncheons or Funeral Luncheons are welcome and easily arranged. La Vigna is closed Monday but you have six days and nights each week to visit and indeed you can come every night and still enjoy something completely different and delicious. The “regulars” will tell you that La Vigna has a great variety of Italian dishes, and they are all consistently delicious. For a piece of Italy in Forest Hills, visit La Vigna. Andiamo!

100-11 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills  718.268.4264

www.lavignany.com

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