Friday, January 8, 2010

Manetta's Ristorante - A Throwback to Goodness


Manetta's Ristorante - 10-76 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City NY 11101

7 Train to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Avenue

Over the course of the last year or two, I've been hearing a lot of positive things about Manetta's Ristorante in LIC, a long-time Italian neighborhood staple with simple but consistently good food.  Dan and I tried it last night for dinner and felt right at home - it's surely worth a visit for any curious palate.

Comfortable, casual and warm are words that come to mind when thinking back on Manetta's.  Even before walking in, I loved seeing its forrest green awning with festive little twinkle lights that served as a warm welcome.  Once inside, I continued to like what I saw - a casual front-of-the-house, which seemed like a pizzeria, and then a more formal but still not stuffy dining room on the right.  There's a cozy fireplace, additional twinkle lights and colorful candles in this room.  The aura is cheery, vibrant and family oriented, as we saw a couple of large parties--undoubtedly families--sitting at a long table, chowing down.

The menu was extensive and it was hard for me to make a decision.  Because I've heard so much about Manetta's fresh pastas, I decided to take this route, but if you're not a big pasta lover, there are plenty of meat, poultry and seafood options too.

Focaccia Pizza - Dan and I split this as an appetizer and it was awesome.  I loved that the crust was crispy but soft enough not to hurt your gums.  The tomato sauce was gentle in taste, peppered with roasted garlic that just melted on your tongue.  I'd definitely get this again, as it was a relatively light way to start a meal.

Fresh Pasta Selections - I had such a hard time selecting my pasta dish, so I got not one but two.  Our waiter was wonderful and so accommodating that he said I could choose two pastas that they'd serve as half portions.  I thought this was just great and ordered the Linguini Neri (black linguini) and the pappardelle with porcini mushrooms.  Both were excellent but I preferred the black linguini with a slick texture and slightly spicy tomato sauce. The dish also countained a couple of jumbo shrimps, which made it meatier.

The pappardelle too was tasty with tender (but not overly so) noodles and an abundance of fresh porcini mushrooms in a fragrant creamy mushroom broth.  I'd highly recommend this to vegetarians.

Rosemary Chicken - Although Dan didn't want to go too simple, he sort of did with this dish and ended up regretting it.  While I liked his chicken very much--it was tender and cooked in a white wine sauce, seasoned with fresh rosemary--it didn't have enough spunk.  Dan said that it could've been more well done on the outside, instead it had a light, unremarkable exterior.  The polenta that was served on the side was delicious and comforting - perfect for a cold evening.

Dessert - We received a complimentary plate of assorted cookies, that I'm assuming were baked in-house.  It was so nice getting a little, unexpected treat and we enjoyed it immensely.  My favorite was a tiny round sandwich cookie with Nutella and a close second was a soft chocolate chip biscotti cookie with lemon icing. 

Service and Cost:
Our waiter was top notch and we both loved him.  First off, he was Italian and spoke with a charming accent that made him more interesting.  He was incredibly attentive and caring, frequently asking us if all was ok (and sounding like he actually meant it).  I really appreciated him accommodating me with the pasta and then giving us a complimentary plate of cookies.  Just stellar!

Costs are moderate to inexpensive.  For an appetizer, two entrees and two full glasses of wine, we paid a total of $57 without tip. 

Appetizers: $4-$9

Pasta: $11-$16
Pizza: $6-$12
Entrees: $13-$26

3 Mmmms



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