2018-08-29 / Restaurant of the Week

Sotto Le Stelle

Dine under the stars at Sotto le Stelle, which is the translation of the name of this charming pizzeria and restaurant on Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside. The decor is as rustic as the pizza served here with distressed wood paneled wainscot, smoky blue walls, and a rough-hewn bar backed by exposed brick. The brick oven glows with intense heat and sizzling pies, yet the dining room remains comfortably cool and relaxed. Sotto le Stelle is so popular, you’ll even find diners eating at the bar, sitting on metal stools, chatting with the friendly barmen. This is a neighborhood spot for couples, friends, and families, run by a family from Bari, Italy, so all are welcome here!

It all started about a year ago when the owners of the successful Sole Luna, just down the Blvd., decided to open another restaurant that would specialize in brick oven pizza, Italian style. Now there are at least two great reasons to visit Sunnyside, and both are just downstairs from the 7 train.

Come for Happy Hour from 4-7pm Monday to Friday when Italian red or white wine, or cold Peroni beer costs just $5. Order some of their homemade meatballs called polpette which are braised for hours and served with family recipe tomato sauce and dip the wonderful bread into the delectable sauce. Fritto misto is a heavenly mélange of crunchy fried calamari, shrimp, and zucchini served with spicy marinara sauce while the burrata is a creamy cloud of buttery mozzarella served with arugula and cherry tomatoes. My buddy and I devoured the carpaccio of beef filet mignon with arugula and shaved parmigiana ($11.50) as well as the meatballs and deemed it all “delicious.”

Let’s cut to the chase and go right to the pizzas where you’ll fall in love at first bite, according to the menu. With 20 varieties of fabulous pizza, why go anywhere else? We tried one of the special pizzas called the “Star pizza” for its unique star shaped crust. This bubbly, crispy, delicious pizza is topped with prosciutto di Parma, arugula, shaved Parmigiano, then drizzled with a balsamic reduction. We were delighted to discover that within each of the points of the golden crust, was a dollop of creamy ricotta cheese, which will blow your mind. The “Angel and Devil” pizza comes hot from the oven with spicy sorpressata salami, home made mozzarella, spicy honey, and fresh basil leaves for a sweet, savory, and spicy treat ($14.50). The “Bufalina” is topped with house made tomato sauce, imported buffalo mozzarella, sautéed cherry tomatoes, and fragrant basil leaves that kids and adults both enjoy.

Sotto le Stelle makes several white pizzas too, including quattro formaggi with four cheeses, carbonara pizza, and pizza topped with porcini mushroom pate, mozzarella, truffle and smoked prosciutto. Vegetarians will naturally find many options here in appetizers, pizza, and pasta. The vegan pizza comes without cheese, but is topped with tomato sauce, mushrooms, eggplant, artichokes, and basil. Fluffy calzones are great for sharing too, filled with ricotta, smoked mozzarella, spicy sorpressata, and parmigiano. It goes without saying that fresh salads go perfectly with these pizzas, so choose among the arugula salad with sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, and shaved parmigiano, or the roasted beet salad, or the summer salad of spinach, mango, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and house dressing.

You’ll find three pasta dishes on the menu including the hearty fettuccine alla Bolognese with rich meat ragu, spaghetti with grape tomatoes, mint, basil, and shaved, aged ricotta salata, or the special pasta of the day, which the lovely Francesca or Gina will describe to you. If you’re kind of far out of your comfort zone, there’s even a pizza burger served here.

No matter what age you are, you’ll love Sotto le Stelle’s desserts. The Nutella calzone is kid- and group-friendly, while the tiramisu is a crowd pleaser. We shared and loved the special dessert of the day which was a ramekin of Nutella mousse that was light and flavorful, beautifully presented, and not too sweet. Whether the stars are out or not, visit Sotto le Stelle after work, or on the weekend for an authentic Italian pizza, pasta, or a glass of wine. The food, décor, and service go beyond expectations, and you’ll want to make it one of your regular spots in Sunnyside. As their menu states: Eat, drink, love at Sotto le Stelle

44-07 Queens Boulevard
Sunnyside  718.685.2086

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