I love visiting Ornella - partly for its tasty, comforting food but also because of the passion owners, Ornella and Giuseppe have for it. It's truly wonderful to see two good-hearted individuals who are genuine in their intentions and get excited about what they do. A great feeling comes over you when you step into this place - traditions are deeply respected and the unconditional love of food permeates every nook and cranny.
While Ornella serves classic Italian eats such as spaghetti with meatballs, gnocchi, veal parm and more, it boasts a selection of non-traditional, inventive Italian food that gets your wheels spinning and your tummy gurgling with excitement.
Two new items that I had the pleasure of trying recently were the hommade chestnut bread and the bottarga di tonno, a cured tuna used similarly to truffles - shaved delicately over pasta or bread to bring out its flavor.
Chestnut Bread - Wow, the color on this loaf was gorgeous - it was a rich brown and the inside was fluffy and super moist. Immediately after taking a bite, I noticed its hearty consistency and that it didn't need butter or olive oil. This bread was excellent on its own. If you'd like to try it, come in on the weekend, as they're starting to introduce it on Saturdays and Sundays.
Bottarga di Tonno - This really was something special and unique that I've never tasted before. Giuseppe gave me the history behind it, explaining that the method of curing it has been around for many generations. The trick is to use just a little bit on a pasta dish, bread or maybe even some plain greens - it livens them up immediately. The taste is intense and smoky, and you have to really love salty things to appreciate it. Ask for it on Ornella's signature fresh pasta or anything else that might desire it.
Ornella Trattoria Italiana - 29-17 23rd Avenue, Astoria NY 11105
N/W Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop)www.ornellatrattoria.com