Friday, December 21, 2007

Cinema Paradiso - You Asked for Italian but Do You Really Want to Know?

Cinema Paradiso - 36-02 35th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11103
R/V/G Train to Steinway Street or 36th Street

Cinema Paradiso is an Italian restaurant inspired by a 1980’s film by the same name. Sure, the film is authentic and beautiful but what happened to the restaurant?

Cinema's atmosphere immediately draws you in, especially the interesting artifacts such as the old-school film reel, a real live Vespa scooter and the impressive balcony that resembles a theatre mezzanine. It all looks super charming and so cheery that you can't wait to go in and try their food.

From start to finish, the food point-blank strikes out. The dry bread basket drizzled with olive oil feels forced. The entrees, while expensively priced, arrive drenched in flavorless sauces or are so overcooked that you can’t help but wonder, “do they expect me to eat that?”

Margot and I ordered the eggplant appetizer, which looked good but was disgusting and drowning in a heinous marinara sauce. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew that at least one of the ingredients in this dish was not fresh. My pizza arrived with a black crust—it was dry and inedible with sad-looking wilted veggies.

Service and Cost:

The service started out well but turned schizo—a
different waiter every 15 minutes; what is this? Cost-wise, not even sure it’s worth mentioning but appetizers range between $9.00-$12.00 and entrees from $12.00-$18.00.


  1. I wondered about this because I'm in the neighborhood but have only heard negative reviews about this place. It's too bad, what a waste of the space!

  2. It's true; that's exactly what I thought. Great space but the food was blah so yes, a waste of great space. I saw that they're building some mainstream eateries there (i.e. Applebees). Not sure how I feel about that yet but ANYTHING is an improvement from Cinema Paradiso.

  3. 'Wich Hunter10 January, 2008

    I do believe the pizza made me ill. The cheese was far from stringy, instead it appeared to be a horrible thick blob of congealed fat. Yum, right?

  4. Truly nauseating. Not sure how this place stays open.

  5. great food since the new managment food use to be blaaaa but now its mmmmmmmm this place has caught the turn around buzzzzz i will return food08

  6. SO great to know Food08! Thanks for the tip and I will have to try it for myself.


  7. I dined at Cinema Paradiso this evening for the first time, and after reading all the terrible reviews, I was prepared for the worse. Why did I go? I hoped that if indeed they were under new management, with a new chef, it might now be very good, as "food08" said in the February 9th review posted here. I'm happy to report that my sense of adventure was rewarded. Everything was absolutely delightful – from the charming service, to the salad (Caesar without anchovies, since I'm vegetarian), side dish (Spinach with Garlic), entrée (a very generous appetizer of Eggplant Rollatini), to coffee and dessert (a perfect Cappuccino and an exquisite Tiramisù). If you've never tried Cinema Paradiso, you owe it to yourself to go. And if you were disappointed before, prepare for a very pleasant surprise.



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