2017-07-19 / Restaurant of the Week


Piccolino is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, bordering on Astoria and Woodside. This brand new Italian restaurant offers casual, yet elegant dining in a cozy setting, with a mere 12 tables in the lovely dining room. Posters and signs from Italy adorn the walls, and the front grill of a classic car sits just next to the bar.

Partners Tommy Vicari and Chef Alonso Tello have 30 years’ experience in the restaurant business, having successfully run 12 restaurants in Manhattan, from Chelsea to the Upper East Side simultaneously. These gentlemen know a thing or two about restaurants! The bar is stocked with your favorite spirits and Tommy swiftly mixed up my Negroni cocktail and a margarita with ease. The wine list is varied and affordable and Happy Hour ensues from 4-7pm Tuesday through Sunday.

Settle in with some warm bread brought to your table while you peruse the menu. We started with Piccolino’s noteworthy crab cake, chock full of sweet, lump crab meat, mild seasoning, and hardly a trace of breadcrumbs, making this a real treat, flanked by sweet red peppers and onions. Next came the juiciest, meatiest baked clams, topped with crunchy, golden breadcrumbs. Using the seafood forks, these mollusks pulled away easily from their shell, bathed in a heavenly butter and garlic sauce ($10.95). Prosciutto di Parma with creamy mozzarella is an excellent starter, as is the “Antipasto Italiano,” a must for the table, full of cuts of cured Italian meats, cheeses, artichokes, chick peas, grilled zucchini and more…a feast for the table.

A fresh, crunchy salad should accompany your meal, with options like arugula and fontina cheese with tomatoes, olives, and balsamic vinaigrette and the classic Caesar, or endive salad with Roquefort cheese and toasted walnuts. Let Piccolino’s choices of entrées tempt you with pasta dishes, meat, chicken, and fish to satisfy your desire. My linguine with white clam sauce was just what I craved on this summery night, while my companion dove into a mound of al dente linguine with shrimp, clams, and mussels in a savory tomato sauce. Orecchiette is “little ear” shaped pasta, sauteed with sweet Italian sausage and verdant broccoli rabe, one of my favorite dishes. Rigatoni “Piccolino” is sauteed with sweet sausage, tomatoes, peas, and zucchini ($16.95). Everyone loves lasagna classica with its layers of pasta, cheeses, and meat.

Tommy recommended the chicken Piccolino with boneless chunks of chicken, sausage, mushrooms, olives, garlic, and white wine. It’s easy to see why this dish is already a house favorite. Chicken Benedetto is stuffed with apples and mozzarella with Dijon mustard and cognac sauce ($17.95). Tender cutlets of veal are prepared with eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella in sherry wine sauce.

Nearby diners enjoyed the salmon Napoli with capers, olives, tomato, garlic and lemon for a light and healthy dish. Sole Fiorentino is sautéed with white wine and lemon, resting on a bed of fresh spinach. Tilapia Portofino is prepared with artichoke hearts, olives, tomato, lemon and basil for another light and flavorful meal. Stay for dessert where you can indulge in house made, creamy tiramisu, Italian cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, or cool-from-the-freezer Tartufo ice cream. The traditional espresso machine steams up a cup of delicious coffee and Tommy will offer you an after-dinner cordial to go with it if you wish. Visit any night for a specially priced pre-fixe dinner served from 4-7 pm where you’ll get an appetizer, main course, and coffee or tea for just $19.95.

Piccolino is just what this area needs, with excellent Italian food served in a comfortable setting with good prices. Tommy makes you feel at home and the parking is easy, or better yet, you can walk over. Piccolino is open six days a week, from Tuesday to Sunday from 4-11 pm with brunch coming soon. Salute Piccolino!

30-86 51st Street  Astoria


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