FANATICO

Barosa Restaurant, Woodhaven Boulevard, Rego Park, NY

Barosa Eggplant Parmigiana

   Having been there twice already, I came back to this page and was surprised to see I had omitted such a lovely find, just past the corner of Woodhaven and Eliot Ave.  Easy to get to, with wonderful service, valet parking and surprisingly deliciously Italian food.  I recall eating there almost 2 years ago with a friend and remarking on the tenderness of the thick cut pork chops, full of flavor, but which I couldn't finish because I could not resist their homemade garlic rolls - hot and steamy from the oven. I don't have occasion to eat in Queens all that often anymore and somehow I got busy and it slipped my mind. 

    Yesterday I happened to have been to a family luncheon at Barosa.  I didn't even remember the name until we drove up.  Immediately my mouth began to water at the thought of those luscious little rolls.  But I cautioned myself - since just like a typical Italian family, my family eats in multiple courses, don't fill up on the rolls! (Its didn't work).  We got there and bread and wine was immediately flowing, along with 2 wonderful salads, Caesar and House Vinaigrette.  The unanimous opinion was that both salads were delicious.  Then we were each individually served a plate of hot antipasto which included eggplant rolletini, stuffed mushrooms, and baked clams (whole clams with the perfect blend of breadcrumb and seasoning on top, and cooked until just tender).  Lovely.  We each ordered diner from a choice of 5 different entrees.  However, that was not enough.  First, a pasta course was served family style.  Penne a la Vodka and Rigatoni Bolognese.  The vodka sauce was wonderful, light and creamy, but not gooey and heavy.  The bolognese, full of meat.  My entree of eggplant parmigiana was perfect, the eggplant expertly fried, sauced and arranged.  I took most of it home.  I tasted the Chicken Francese (thanks to mom) and it was excellent, tender and juicy, served with fresh broccoli and potato.  I heard the fish was delicious as was the chicken parm.  For dessert, we were served family style plates of Italian Cheesecake and Tiramisu.  I am not a fan of Tiramisu, but this one was so light and airy, not soggy at all.  Even the coffee was good.

     I also hear the brick oven pizza is a favorite of their loyal following. I can wholeheartedly recommend Barosa.  I understand they have been there for many years and now I can see why. 

Rosario's Italian Food Store. With so many of these, no wonder most of the restaurants in Queens are Italian!!

DON PEPE, Italian (Do you have to ask permission to go?)

Don Pepe Clams Oreganata

     (This one's for you Frank!)  I have been asked to include this review of Don Pepe Restaurant in my pages even though I have never been there.  Being from an Italian family who has been there, I do what I am told.  My family loves it and has been back many times, and promises to take me.  Hmmm, I anxiously await this...

    This is what I do know for a fact:  They are expensive, they don't take any credit cards, there is only street parking if you can find any, they don't take reservations, no alcohol, beer & wine only, the waitstaff is rude and its noisy -- but the baked clams are good.  I've been told that the food is so good that people will wait an hour to get in.  I do not wait an hour to get in anywhere!

     From one review on Yelp: "First off this place is hysterical. It is filled with the most stereotypical Italian families I have ever seen (being a paisan myself I know it when I see it). I am also pretty sure that a ton of people have been shot here. There are definitely some serious mafia-types that come to Don Peppe. Also, Jimmy Hoffa may or may not be buried under Don Peppe (probably is)....but the clams were good"

     From another review on Yelp:  "We got baked clams ($20 for a bakers dozen) and a stuffed artichoke ($10.50). Everybody's talking about the clams here, but I didn't think they were all that... at all. The stuffed artichoke was a much better experience, and came with the same bread crumbs as the clams. Our linguini with clam sauce was good, and I would recommend it to anyone who comes here. But that's where I stop recommending. We were implored by the smug waiter to order entrees instead of more pasta, but when plate came to food, the entrees were way flat and not worth the price... at all. Our braciole was one 6 inch log, and tasted flat. Our veal marsala was also nothing special and not worth the price...."  

      From one more review on Yelp, too amusing to ignore:  "It was my sisters birthday and I wanted to bring my family to a nice family style dinner. I read nothing but rave reviews so I said ..why not?
We went on Superbowl Sunday so it was fairly empty -which was good because I hear it gets crowded. We waited at the front for a few minutes wondering if we sat ourselves or if we needed to wait for someone to seat us. All the staff looked over at us and looked away. It was empty so it's not like they were too busy. So I spoke up and ASKED if we should pick a table.
One guy finally walked over and brought us over to a table in the corner. I asked for a menu an he said "It's on the wall" and walked away. The table where we were seated was at a weird angle where we couldn't see a thing on the menu. So I asked if we could be seated at the empty table closer to the wall menu. (considering almost all tables were empty - so I didn't see it being a problem)
He gave me a dirty annoyed look and said I will have to ask the owner! Who was sitting at a table with his buddies playing poker. I'm like are you kidding?! I told him I AM NOT interrupting him, and asked if he can please find out himself. We were moved and the owner whispered to him "Why do they want to sit there?" in an annoyed tone, like he didn't want us near him & his buddies.
STRIKE ONE.
We look at the menu and decided, I waved over the waiter and he walked over with a bad attitude. I told him what we wanted. If I dared ask a simple question he gave me a curt reply. He puts in our order and brings over bread and drinks. I asked if my 3 y.o. niece can get a cup, versus the wine glass placed before her. He says NO, they don't have any. Mind you this place was NOT THAT FANCY.
STRIKE TWO.
He brought over the food and starts serving us our individual plates. He splashed the spaghetti oil on me a few times and didn't apologize when I flinched. When he finished he walked away before I could ask for paper napkins. When I tried calling him over, he got so annoyed that I was interrupting his texting session and continually rolled his eyes. I was nothing but polite, so not to cause a scene in front of my family so I don't know WTF his problem was.
STRIKE THREE
Finally we're finishing up and the owner and his buddies light up their cigs and start smoking, meanwhile there are NO SMOKING signs posted up all over. An old couple had to move from their table while eating because of the secondhand smoke. Did they take this as a sign and put it out? NOPE.
Our waiter asked if we wanted dessert, I said NOPE I would like the check. The place doesn't take credit cards -such an inconvenience -but luckily I was aware of this before hand. I paid my check and walked right out to find almost the entire staff in the small lobby talking on their cells, smoking cigs. Not outside, but in the lobby.
Needless to say, I WILL NEVER return. That's a promise. The service was terrible! The food was overpriced and not that special. I'd much rather take the trip into the city for REAL family style restaurants such as Carmines and Tony DiNapoli.

OK, Just for you Frank, I am going to end this on a positive note.  "One reviewer says:   We ordered the clams oreganata and the Veal Don Peppe. The clams oreganata were delicious. They were perfectly garlicy, savory and not overly oily. Now the Veal Don Peppe, well the Veal Don Peppe is in-f******credible. The delicious fried veal tastes amazing with the fresh chopped tomato and olive oil dripping all over it. It tasted like a giant, delicious bruschetta with veal in place of the bread. I have never tasted anything like it and I cannot wait for a good excuse to go back. It was a little bit on the pricey side, but I would honestly pay double for that sh*t."

PARKSIDE Restaurant, Corona Queens, (Italian, next to the park)

Lobster Rissotto at Parkside in Corona. It was that good!!

 If you have never been to Parkside at least once, go. Brave the crowds, and the parking issues, and go once. "An Italian Landmark in the heart of Corona, Queens, Park Side Restaurant is truly a destination that is worth the trip. After one visit, you will be sure to be back again and again for one the city's Best Italian restaurants." (Parkside Promo)
The food is excellent, nothing is ever bad, and the service is old fashioned, Italian, and impecccable. At the outset, I have to mention the house wine - which I believe they make themselves. It goes with everything - or maybe I just wanted to have it with everything.
The bread basket (a meal in itself) and wine is enough, and you could actually just go home after that and the cold antipasti of meats and cheese they put on the table gratis. But you won't once you look at the menu.
The Lobster & Shrimp Risotto is heavenly, and being somewhat of an expert on Risotto, I can tell you its worth every penny. The baked clams and crabcakes melt in your mouth. Don't miss the Fruitti de Mare (assorted seafood in garlic red sauce) which has remained at under $10.00 on the appetizer menu for years. I don't know how they do it. Personally, the hot antipasto of baked clams, shrimp, stuffed mushrooms and zucchini is one of my favorites.
If won't matter if you don't want dinner after that, because you will get it anyway. The broiled lamb chop, when they have it, is amazing. Yes, amazing. So are the double cut lamb chops are another of my favorites. The fettucini Carbonara, is real. Not the cream sauce kind, but the one made from cheese ane eggs. And, yes, the crab cake is to die for.
I wish I could tell you more, but I have not been there enough to have everything on the menu yet. Yet!
Just remember that if you go on the weekend, make a reservation. Because as long as its been there is as long as the wait!

Il Triangolo Ristoranti Italiano, Corona Queens

Interior at Triangolo

 Ok, so most of the restaurants in Corona are Italian. I don't know why. I'm a Long Island girl myself! But my recent visit to Il Trianglo was lovely and we were made to feel like family. It was a quiet weeknight, and I believe we had the entire staff, including the owner, at our service.
Again, I feel compelled to share a bit of history. "The site of IL Triangolo is rich in Queens history. In 1640, John Burroughs established his farm here. During the Revolutionary War it was occupied by Dr. Harper, surgeon of the Royal Gerrision Battalion. The property remained in the Burroughs family throughout the middle of the 19th century, when it was acquired by Jonathan Randal. (Randal is best known as the owner of Randall's Island, which he sold to the city of New York in 1835). This historic farm was subdivided by the Randal estate in the early 20th century. Our building was constructed at this time. In the early 1980’s, Angelo Gigliotti, an immigrant from Calabria, Italy, made his American dream by purchasing this historical building and restoring it to its original condition."
First and foremost, the house Sangria was fabulous, as was the fresh baked bread and house salad. While you are waiting for your dinner, enjoy the old world charm cozy dining room with than a dozen tables, dressed in crisp, white linens. Original brick walls were uncovered after years of neglect. Soft lighting and the dulcet tones of Sinatra set the mood and hearken back to a romantic time in early New York City.
The homemade Gnocchi with homemade bolognese sauce was hard to resist, but I did and I had the special of seafood in a marinara sauce over pasta. Every bite of each piece of seafood was tender and delicious. I understand that the fresh salmon, broiled with capers, rosemary, garlic and extra virgin olive oil or plump, tender shrimp Francese in a delicate egg batter is a neighborhood favorite.
But, if skipping dessert was your plan, forget it. Because they are light and tasty and made by the owner's wife - and you don't get the option of saying no! Again, it was worth it.
Its a lovely restaurant, with delicious food and an old world charm. Definitely try it when you can't get into Parkside.

DAZIES, Sunnyside Queens NY

Seafood & Linguini

   I do have a slight bias towards Dazies, because it is one of my favorite Italian Restaurants in Queens.  They have been in business serving the finest in Italian cuisine for over 38 years. You can stop in and enjoy romantic live piano music in a Manhattan setting conveniently located in Queens.  They have enhanced an already extensive wine list to include rare and beautiful wines from around the world.  Lily Gavin, owner of Dazie's Restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens, is still making with her award-winning tiramisu.

     You’ll be transported to a New York of a different era upon entering Dazie’s, the 40-year-old Italian restaurant in Sunnyside.  Owned by Lily, the Queens restaurant has a romantic vibe that isn’t easily found at many NYC restaurants these days.   How many eateries still have piano players serenading diners nightly?  And it seems they're famous for more than tunes — Tina Fey once filmed an episode of “30 Rock” there. The tiramisu won for Best Dessert at the “Queens: A Taste Of The World” event at Citi Field in 2010

     The last time we were at Dazies we had the most wonderful squid-ink pasta covered with a mixed seafood and a very light tomato broth. It was absolutely delectible. The Calamari Fritti and the Eggplant Rolletini were bot cooked to perfection.  The Rigatoni Mattricana, with mushrooms, onions, pancetta and fresh basil was heavenly.  This is how Italian should be.  Execellent service, delicious food, beautiful music.  We couldn't have asked for more - which is why Dazies has been around for so many years. 

The extensive Italian-American menu — yes, there are indeed eight different kinds of veal — is a family-pleaser, featuring every kind of pasta from homemade ravioli Bolognese to a house special cavatelli with meatballs and sausage.  Chicken scarpariello and pollo Parmigiana are both favorites, and are served with a side of spaghetti — ensuring that no one could possibly leave Dazie’s hungry.  The veals, served marsala (with marsala wine sauce and mushrooms) or Capricciosa (with chopped arugula, tomatoes, red onion, basil, lemon and olive oil) are also popular. 

      So, next time you are on your way into or out of the City, stop by Dazies.  Tell them I sent you.  I promise, you will not be sorry.  

Tazzina Restaurant, 88th St., Glendale NY (Italian)

Mussels at Tazzina. Have these and the chicken and you will be a happy diner!

     Seems that when you are a chef on "'chopped" you can open a restaurat anywhere and you will become a successl  That's what happened to Jaso Zukas, who took thie tiny little place on a corner in queens, off the main drag, and turned it into Tazzina.  Even more disappointing is that Mr. Zukas hovered around the kitchen and bar, and never came over to table to say hello - odd in a restaurant that was almost empty because of a snowstorm!!

     They must be doing something right, because its a year later and they are still there.  Small, but cozy. And overpriced.  Manhattan prices in Queens.  I had the Braised Short Ribs over creamy Polenta, wich were flavorfull, but too chewy for my taste; however I did eat all the polenta.  My husband's NY Strip Steak was overcooked and chewy (but the good parts were flavorful).  On a positive note, the best thing on the menu that night was the chicken.  Chicken under a Brick.  Now I do not know if they really cook it under a brick, but when I tasted it I was so sorry I didn't order it!    As is s usual in most places, the appetizers were the best.  The Mussels in q light broth with fennel were plump and delicious.  Not dried out at all. 

     I don't get what all the excitement this place is. We came here for dinner with familu, and our meals were good, average, but we've definitely had better, and for much less expensive. Especially for a place that sells only beer and wine.  It wasn't as though we went all out ordering a ton of stuff.  So, my recommendation is: Go for dessert, have the chocolate molten cake, and coffee.  Like I said before, I'm surprised they lasted a year for these prices in this location, but he does have fans.  Good Luch Jason!

Uvarara, Metropolitan Ave. Middle Village, Queens NY

Cured meats and cheeses at Uvarara

     Opened in 2007, Uvarara Wine Bar & Restaurant, located in Middle Village, Queens, is located in an old Rectory building across from the cemetery.  It has been restored to its old quient reverence and when you walk in, you almost feel like you should whisper.  Don't.  Owned and operated by the Ladiccio family, from Caserta, a city in the Campania area of Italy.  Wine tastings and special events are regularly scheduled at Uvarara and you are encouraged to come, regardless of the breadth of your wine knowledge.  They want you to learn.

     But aside from the decor, the accommodating staff and the ambience, its the food that keeps you coming back.  The list of daily blackboard specials is hard to resist, and the time I had the lamb bolognese I can still taste it a year later.  The homemade parpardelle with asparagus & shrimp is excellent, as is the mixed seafood of clams, calamari, white fish & more in a broth of white wine and tomatoes served with crotini is unbelievable.  But, do try and resist, because it is the Piattini that will keep you coming back. You will start with a board of mixed cured meats and cheeses, which you can select yourself from their wide selection.  Then, you can choose from small plates of: Carpaccio de Manzo, Stuffed Portobello, Pizzette with onions, anchovies and black olives.  DO NOT miss the homemade meatballs stewed in tomato sauce, or the zeppole stuffed with mozzarella, tomato and basil.  Now GO and try it!  Look on line at www.uvararany.com for special events and tastings.  The food is wonderful, the owners lovely and the prices reasonable!

Cara Mia, Hillside Ave., Queens Village NY (Italian & Seafood)

    For the past 30 years, the Deciantis family of Queens Village has cooked up traditional Italian masterpieces at their locally-famous restaurant Cara Mia. This cozy neighborhood treasure combines fine dining with the comfort of family. You are always greeted warmly and seated comfortably, where you can start off with a bowl of Cara Mia’s Potato and Leak soup, which is absolutely heavenly and should not be missed, even if you have to share it. Use the homemade bread to soak up what is left in the bowl. But don’t skip the appetizers: the Calamari Fritti with fra diavolo dipping sauce; the Vongole Oreganata (baked clams in a lemon, butter and white wine sauce); Carpaccio Di Manzo (paper-thin slices of raw meat with arugula and parmigiano) and the Mozzarella Di Bufala (imported mozzarella, vine-ripe tomatoes and basil).

     There was no room for the two different ravioli dishes (out of the five that were available), although the broccoli ravioli in a garlic and oil sauce with sun dried tomatoes and the spinach ravioli in a portabella mushroom marsala sauce were tempting. The square ravioli, which are made on the premises like all Cara Mia pasta, were huge and filled with whole chunks of vegetables. I could not even begin to remember the extensive pasta menu, but the entrees that were not pasta included such a huge selection and variety you almost forget about the pasta. Almost.

     The extensive menu at Cara Mia’s includes Veal Parmigiana, Sea Bass which was fresh and flavorful, and the acidity of the tomato and bread crumb topping complemented the fish perfectly; there was also Pollo Parmigiana with spaghetti pomodoro, Pork Saltimbocca sautéed with prosciutto, sage and spinach in a light wine sauce, Pollo Piccata sautéed with lemon, capers, and white wine and Salmone Alla Griglia asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, corn, peppers and roasted potatoes, in lemon fresh herbs sauce, AND SO MUCH MORE.
I suggest you check out their website at www.caramiarestaurant.com to get a better idea of their menu, because I can't even begin to fitit here. Meanwhile, I could not tell you a word about dessert, because there was no room.
     They do in fact have an excellent wine list, a prix fixe menu at a reasonable price, and a children's menu. Try Cara Mia, and those of you in Long Island reading this, we'll need to try Cara Mia Due, in Seaford very soon.