Thursday, February 14, 2008

Guest Foodista Kimberly Reveals Her Italian Delight



Kimberly is a dear friend of mine and is my partner in crime--in basically everything. She resides in lovely Astoria, loves it and appreciates it so much. Kimberly is one of the most adventurous gals I've ever met. She managed to move herself (as in one woman for the entire task) from Houston, TX to Astoria, NY--not a small feat. Trattoria L'incontro happens to be one of her favorite restaurants in Astoria and she tells you why below... Oh and she'd like to give a shoutout to her main squeeze, Jonathan aka J-Man Conan!

Trattoria L’incontro – 21-76 31st Street, Astoria, NY 11105
718.721.3532
N/W Train to Ditars Blvd (last stop)
www.trattorialincontro.com

Mmmmmmm...Italian food! As a gal of 50% Sicilian heritage, I must admit that I often fantasize about my next meal, especially when Italian is on the menu. Trattoria L’Incontro is one of my favorite Italian restaurants from the U.S. to Italy, and here’s why.


First of all, the company we had at dinner was impeccable. Foodista joined us, in addition to my roomie Maria, future brudder-in-law Garett, and future groomsman Eric. I have been raving about this place for a while to Garett + Eric, so I was thrilled when two completely random (and possibly drunk) women announced loudly that we were about to enjoy “the best Italian food in all of Astoria—nothing like it!” as we walked in the door. It’s always nice to have an unbiased source ratify your choice of restaurant.

Atmosphere
Having traveled extensively throughout Italy, I like that Trattoria has mastered the authentic feel of a local restaurant in, say, Vicenza. While the d├ęcor is not spectacular, it is perfectly en pointe for what you will find at a nice, but off the beaten path, family restaurant in Italy. It embodies a simple elegance with a touch of rustic embellishment that makes you feel instantly at home. We’re told there’s a wine cellar in the basement—it would be neat to inquire to check that out next time (and there will be a next time!!).

Food
Trattoria is unique in that the list of specials can sometimes equal the regular menu offerings in quantity! That’s because the chef plans dishes according to what market-fresh ingredients are available. This time I sampled several repeat favorites along with a few new dishes.

Appies included…

Delle Valli: Repeat. This is an excellent and traditional charcuterie-type platter to share with a group of hungry friends. Homemade roasted red pepper (one of my favorite ingredients of all time), peppercorn cheese, fresh mozzarella, and several types of cured meats are arranged bountifully on a generous sized platter. It is a dish suggested for 4 people, but we easily accommodated our group of five. Pure, simple, and delicious way to begin a meal.


Cold Calamari Salad: New. A healthy alternative to fried calamari, this seemed like a refreshing way to begin the meal. I ordered this for myself specifically, but when it came out, there was so much and it looked so yummy that we passed the plate around the table! The calamari was lightly tossed in oil along with white beans, and could be improved with a dash of lemon juice, in my opinion.

Baked Clams: New. Very tasty and exactly as expected—stuffed with garlic, bread crumbs, and drizzled with a bit of oil. Exactly as a stuffed clam should be!

Main dish...

Green Apple & Marscarpone Ravioli: Repeat. I was originally attracted to this dish because it reminded me of a pasta we (me + fiance’) tried in Italy called Faggotini, which is more like a stuffed shell, with a traditional filling of pear and marscarpone. Hoping to recreate the memory, I opted for Trattoria’s green apple ravioli version. YUM the first time and YUM again! The apple flavor is subtle and the light cream sauce that accompanies the pasta is perfectly equipped to offset the sweetness of the fruit with a bit of butter/garlic balance.

Dessert...

Lemon Tart: New. All I can say is DELICIOUS. This tasted, to me, like a lemon Linzer tart on crack. The combination of lemon + raspberry secured by a graham cracker crust was divine.

Chocolate Mousse: New. Very rich and extremely chocolatey. Everyone seemed to enjoy it just fine—but I would order the lemon tart again before going for the mousse.

Service and Cost
Our waiter was lots of fun, although apparently we distracted him during the 10 minute recitation of the daily specials, causing him to start laughing and take a breather. He engaged us with banter throughout the meal and tolerated our slightly buzzed sense of humor as we made our way through two bottles of wine, which definitely earned him brownie points in my book! I also liked that, when learning that our first wine choice was unavailable, he recommended a bottle that he thought would taste better—AND it was definitely not an up sell! Molto bene!! A meal at this establishment—with shared appetizers, a main dish, and some wine—is not cheap, but at $45-60 per person, I didn’t see any complaints at our table. It’s well worth the price.

Tips
1. Always make a reservation—the secret is out on this place!
2. Checks can be split on three credit cards—no more than that

Buon Appetito! 3 Mmmms from this signorina!!

2 comments:

  1. Mmm, sounds delicious! Always useful to know the good, local Italian spot. I'll have to check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kimberly,
    That was such wonderful and precise description of this venue. I have been there before and I would say that it was one of the high end Italian restaurants- foodwise and pricewise.
    All in all worth every penny.

    ReplyDelete

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