2016-06-15 / Restaurant of the Week

DUE PONTI

RISTORANTE ITALIANO

Due Ponti Ristorante Italiano is a gem of a restaurant with breathtaking views of the waterfront just between the Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges, hence the name Due Ponti, which means Two Bridges in Italian. Though hidden away in the quiet hamlet of Beechurst, Due Ponti is very easy to reach, just five minutes from the Cross Island Pkway’s Francis Lewis Blvd. exit. There’s plenty of free parking too, but the location, views, world class food, and charm of Due Ponti give you many reasons to visit.

Owners Joseph and Rosemary Facchin welcome you to their friendly restaurant while Carmelina, the exuberant General Manager and pastry chef, dazzle you with details of the desserts she has in store for you. Meanwhile, Chef John Cicinelli performs magic in the kitchen, turning honest, natural, locally sourced ingredients into world class regional and seasonal dishes. Once you see the spacious dining room and pier outside, you’ll understand why Due Ponti is the perfect place for a private party, and even an intimate wedding for up to 80 people. There are fantastic photo opportunities outside, a fireplace, piano, and tables dressed in crisp white linens.

We started with glasses of crisp, white wine from Orvieto while Chef John brought an amuse bouche of crostini topped with fava bean puree that easily whetted our appetites for more. Thankfully, it was quickly followed up with a seasonal treat of Roman artichokes stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella and baked until the breadcrumbs and Pecorino Romano were lightly browned ($12). Grilled African shrimp are plump and tender, nestled among Tuscan white bean salad for a mix of sea and earth. Creamy buratta cheese melts in your mouth, served with roasted tomatoes and truffle vinaigrette dressing. The Chef offers two types of menus: a more inventive, seasonal menu with creative dishes using what’s fresh at the market, and a more traditional Southern Italian menu, to keep those looking for standard Italian dishes happy.

We clearly rejoiced in the seasonal menu, and thoroughly enjoyed the Fettuccini with fresh fava beans, bright green spring peas, garlic, oil, and shaved ricotta salad. This dish was light, flavorful, and bursting with spring flavors. It was almost too pretty to eat. Next we sampled the homemade four-cheese ravioli, whose pasta was so tender, filled with a combination of cheeses and topped with a very light sauce of sage-infused butter, black pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Our second courses were paired with a lovely red wine, uncorked at the table. Entrees include a classic veal saltimbocca made with tender cutlet of veal, prosciutto, sage, and white wine sauce. This veal was fork tender and so savory, as was the fricassee of lamb with zesty artichoke hearts. Another wonderful taste of spring! Stuffed pork tenderloin is filled with Parmigiano cheese, garlic and parsley, then roasted and topped with a rich tomato sauce, accompanied by crisp potato croquettes or other side dish of the day. Pan-seared yellow fin tuna should be ordered cool in the middle for optimum flavor. This dish is served with Sicilian eggplant salad called caponata or sometimes with cannellini beans and pancetta, if eggplant is not at market. Either way, this is an extraordinarily fresh dish and the tuna melts on your tongue. Finally we were able to sample many of Carmelina’s fantastic desserts, not one too sweet or overdone, so that the quality ingredients shine through. I give special kudos to her homemade ice cream, gelato, and sorbets. Her basil ice cream is so unique in its light, fragrant taste and texture, it’s the perfect summer dessert, as is the lemon-mascarpone sorbet and passion fruit mousse. Classic panna cotta comes in coffee and raspberry flavors, and her strawberry shortcake is like no other, layered with lots of fresh fruit and tender cake. Even the Sicilian Cassata cake gets a lighter more flavorful touch from Carmelina’s years of experience baking. Enjoy a vin santo as a digestif along with a cup of espresso or cappuccino while you take in views of the setting sun outside, shimmering on the water.

Due Ponti is open six days a week for weekday dinner from 5pm, and for lunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday from 12pm on. They’re closed on Monday. There’s live piano music on Saturday nights and a glowing fireplace during the cold weather. Please plan your next special event at Due Ponti where you will amaze your guests with the location, fine food, atmosphere and attention to your every need. It’s not too late to celebrate Father’s Day at Due Ponti, or a graduation celebration. Due Ponti offers a unique dining experience in Northern-most reaches of Queens, accessible to all. Visit their website for more information about cooking classes, wine tastings and other special events. Buon appetito!

154-11 Powells Cove Blvd.
Whitestone  718.767.3100

(Corner of 154th Street)

www.dueponti-ristorante.com

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