2017-05-10 / Restaurant of the Week

VITE Vinosteria

You’ll feel like you’re in Italy even before you enter Vite Vinosteria as you pass the garden boxes on 34th Street filled with tomato plants, eggplant, and basil, stretching their tender limbs to the sun. Enjoy a meal outdoors surrounded by the greenery and the lovely staff. Inside Vite Vinosteria, you’ll feel soothed by the warmth of the lovely dining room, with exposed brick, a wood beam ceiling, wooden ceiling fans, and homey objects on the walls. The charming Carmelo Bennici managing partner, has years of experience in high-end Italian restaurants in Manhattan with partners Pino Uras , Pietro Molendini and chef Fabiano Manca. Carmelo brings his expertise and his rich Sicilian heritage to Astoria to delight us all with outstanding cuisine, cocktails, beer, and wine, wine, wine, as the name suggests.

The menu changes with the seasons to take advantage of nature’s best vegetables, fish, and meat. All the pastas are homemade, as is the pizza dough, the desserts, the limoncello and more. Start with a summery cocktail such as the classic Aperol spritz, a Negroni with a splash of Campari, a fresh Mojito, or a Boulevardier and sip slowly while you nibble on fresh bread dipped into their house made spicy olive oil, available for sale in pretty bottles to take home. This is La Dolce Vita!

Appetizers are generously portioned and should be shared, as we did. If you like grilled octopus, I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen an ‘arm’ as big, juicy, and tender as the one served here. It’s perfectly cooked and impossibly tender, served with roasted, fingerling potatoes and mixed greens ($16.95). “Arancino” is a classic Sicilian rice ball, filled with mozzarella, sweet peas, and tomato sauce, gently fried so the shell is golden and crisp, and the inside, creamy and savory. Carmelo presented us with a gorgeous plate of buttery Burata cheese, imported from Puglia, Italy, surrounded by sweet cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, which we swiftly scooped up with bread, drizzled with that spicy olive oil. Thinly sliced roast pork called “porchetta” melts in your mouth and is complemented by wild mushrooms sautéed in truffle oil, while the beef carpaccio takes fine sirloin into paper thin slices, topped with arugula salad.

Vite Vinosteria makes outrageously good, bubbly crusted pizza, topped with Bufala mozzarella, grilled vegetables, mushrooms, prosciutto, or spicy sausage as you wish. These pizzas are sized for a meal for one, or you’ll see diners sharing a pizza as a first course along with some of the other tempting appetizers.

After your cocktail has drained away, ask for a wine suggestion to complement your entrée. With over 20 wines by the glass, choose among Sicilian Nero D’Avola, Montepulciano, Chianti, Pinot Grigio, and more. Your server can suggest a pairing if you like. The house made pastas are prepared on the spot, and served piping hot in a sautee pan which makes for a clever presentation while it keeps your pasta warm. Papparedelle ribbon pasta are extra wide and topped with a decadent ragu of short ribs, that has been slow-cooked for hours. My friend’s gnocchi were tender, light-as-air dumplings topped with creamy gorgonzola cheese sauce flecked with roasted walnuts, a dish that comes from the north of Italy. Soon, these gnocchi will be topped with summery pistachio and basil pesto, sprinkled with grated Parmigiano. Whole wheat cavatelli is a toothsome pasta from Puglia topped with rich lamb ragu, while fagottini di zucca are tender parcels of pasta filled with pumpkin and Taleggio cheese ($15.95). Gluten free pasta are available too.

Meat, poultry, and fish dishes are offered as specials to ensure freshness. Filet mignon with grilled pancetta bacon and roasted potatoes, or swordfish fillet are just some options. Grilled salmon fillet is served with seasonal vegetables and grilled chicken breast comes with a vibrant salad, both of which make for a light and tasty meal.

Save room for desserts, also house made at Vite Vinosteria. The tiramisu is artfully presented in a glass so you can see all the layers. Creamy panna cotta with fresh fruit, or ricotta cheesecake all end your meal nicely. But wait, there’s more…out comes the espresso and a bottle of house made Limoncello, cool and frosty, to put the icing on this meal, Italian style. Next, sit back and relax while you enjoy the ambiance and consider walking home, already planning your next visit to Vite Vinosteria.

Vite Vinosteria is open seven days a week for dinner every night and lunch served Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Catering is available so call to make arrangements for an impressive wedding, anniversary, or corporate event. Take home a bottle of olive oil, spicy olive oil, Sicilian olives or olive tapenade and enjoy a bit of Vite Vinosteria at home. Also visit Bennici’s second venue in Astoria: Vite Bar on Broadway, serving smaller plates of fine Italian food, salumi cuts of meat, salads, and coffee drinks.

Enjoy “La Dolce Vita” right here in Astoria, for fine Italian cuisine, wines, al fresco dining, and more. Salute!

31-05 34th Street
Astoria  718.278.8483

www.vitevinosteria.com

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