2017-12-13 / Restaurant of the Week

Pizza Classica

Coming to Pizza Classica is like coming home to your favorite aunt, where home-cooked, Italian meals are made with love. I’m always impressed by the consistent quality of the dishes served here and how busy this charming neighborhood restaurant is, even on weeknights. It seems that the dining room is always filled with families and friends enjoying the fine Italian cuisine and celebrating special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and even Wednesdays for that matter, which are made special at Pizza Classica.

This all takes place in Pizza Classica’s nicely appointed dining room, adjoining its bustling pizzeria. Rocco Zummo welcomes everyone in this diverse community and guests are made to feel at home. Tables for 2 to 20 people are illuminated by elegantly soft lighting suspended from wood beam ceilings and the windows are draped with wispy curtains. With easy access on Union Turnpike, sandwiched between Forest Hills and Glendale, and free parking, Pizza Classica is easy to reach. Best of all, it’s easy on your wallet too, with reasonable prices in reach to all.

Benny, our attentive and friendly waiter, got us started with two glasses of fine wine, and suggested appetizers. As promised, the clams casino he recommended were fantastic. Juicy and sweet, these ocean fresh clams were topped with breadcrumbs and lots of garlic, and finished with crispy bacon bits, all swimming in a delectable white wine and lemon sauce that begged to be soaked up with the fresh, warm bread and focaccia brought to your table. We loved the crab cakes too, golden crisp and full of sweet crabmeat and mild seasonings, with two to a serving so they’re ideal for sharing, along with remoulade sauce. Fresh mussels marinara swim in a spicy tomato sauce meant for sharing and bread dunking. Eggplant rollatini is one of their house specialties, rolled up fluffy ricotta, baked till golden, and topped with the family’s secret tomato sauce. Arancini are traditional Sicilian rice balls filled with ground meat, peas and tomato, made with their own family recipe. Kids love the bruschetta, mozzarella sticks and zucchini sticks just as much as adults do.

Order a Caprese salad for the table or buttery burrata mozzarella punctuated with red roasted peppers, tomato and basil. Grilled Portobello mushroom salad could be a meal in itself, or refresh with avocado and crab meat salad, or grilled calamari atop mixed greens with red onions and lemon vinaigrette.

In Italy, pasta is the first course, or primo after the antipasto. Share one as a first course or make it your whole meal. Pizza Classica elevates this dish with family recipe homemade sauces made from high quality ingredients, all served fresh and hot. Lobster ravioli are tender parcels filled with sweet lobster and fluffy ricotta. Linguine with baby scallops and shrimp or alle vongole with sweet clams are house favorites. Black squid ink linguine is topped with shrimp, scallops, and crab meat in a light tomato sauce scented with fragrant saffron for an aromatic and outrageously good dish. Orecchiete are ‘little ears’ with broccoli rabe, garlic and crumbled sausage. Cavatelli are toothsome pasta topped with rich, meaty Bolognese sauce or try classic spaghetti carbonara with egg, butter and smoky bacon for a Roman treat ($15.95). Winter is a great time for fettuccine with rich lamb ragu, a sauce that’s been cooked for hours. Whole wheat pasta is available too, on request. With over 30 pasta dishes on the menu, you’ll surely find your favorite.

Pizza Classica entrées include meat, poultry and fish, all prepared on the spot and elegantly served. My beau’s grilled veal spiedini was made from pounded medallions of veal, layered with prosciutto and cheese, then rolled up and gently sautéed ($22.95). This dish can be ordered with chicken as well, or try savory chicken Cordon Bleu with ham and cheese, chicken scarpariello, or chicken cacciatore, and soak up all the delicious juices with crusty bread. The juicy pork chops campagnola are made with sautéed onions, mushrooms, roasted peppers and potatoes. Rib eye steaks are cooked to order and cam be pan seared with porcini mushroom sauce, peppercorn sauce or Fiorentina style with olive oil and rosemary.

If you’re in the mood for something from the sea, Pizza Classica prepares fresh shrimp, salmon, and fillet of sole in a variety of ways including oregnata style, seasoned with herbs and crisp, golden bread crumbs, or Marechiara style with clams, mussels, onions and light tomato sauce. I chose filet of sole Livornese with juicy olives, capers and tangy lemon sauce. The fish was so plump and flaky, the fork released each flaky bite and the sauce was fantastic. Meat and fish entrees are served with your choice of pasta, house salad, or vegetable of the day, making a meal here a very good value. The portions are so generous, we both enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day.

We couldn’t pass on dessert when we heard about Rocco’s mother-in-law’s famous tiramisu, light and fluffy, served in an elegant glass with a strawberry on top. There’s also crème brulee, bread pudding, spumoni, tartufo, cannolis, and Italian cheesecake. Yes, I’ll have an espresso with that!

Did I mention that the pizza here is excellent? Pies fly out the door in the adjacent pizza parlor, where the phone rings off the hook. Besides NY style pizza and brick oven pizza, there are dozens of hot and cold heroes, paninis, rolls, calzones and even a low-carb pizza. Pizza Classica is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. There’s plenty of free, indoor parking in the shopping center’s garage and Pizza Classica is easy to reach, just off Woodhaven Blvd. Host your next family dinner here in the elegant dining room, or let them cater to your home or office. Salute Pizza Classica!

89-89 Union Turnpike
Glendale  718.847.5001


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