Sunday, March 7, 2010

Testaccio - Modern Italian Food with a Hint of Nostalgia

Testaccio Ristorante - 47-30 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City NY 11101

7 Train to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Avenue

It's been a while since I last dined at Testaccio Ristorante in LIC, and I was excited to meet my friend Fran there for a comforting Italian meal.  Although I've had their pizza on many occassions and loved it, I was eager to try the pasta and other new dishes.  The night was full of yummy surprises and we both walked out with full bellies and happy moods.  Here's what we tried:

Appetizers - We started with a couple of things, including a beef dish called crudo di manzo con carciofi.  Consisting of lean slices of filet mignon enveloped around artichoke hearts, it was a substantial start to the meal.  I liked that there were three fairly large pieces of these bundles and a side of peppery arugula salad with shavings of tangy pecorino romano cheese to go with it.  The dish boasted a nice combination of hearty and fresh flavors that went well together, satisfying your hunger but still leaving enough room for more.

Other appetizers we enjoyed were Testaccio's signature, assagini di supli or an assortment of rice croquettes that I've had before.  These remind me of the popular Spanish tapas dish, croquetas, as they are both creamy rice balls with a crispy exterior.  My favorite flavor continues to be the tomato & mozarella - classic, simple and so delicious.

We also tried the carciofo all giudea, the crispy artichoke with black olive tapenade on the side.  YUM! Besides it looking like a goregous flower, it had a thin, crispy consistency and a salty bite at the end.  The black olive tapenade made it tangier and it was fun to spread this on Testaccio's assortment of bread, topping it with a crispy artichoke piece.

Entrees - Fran and I both ordered pasta.  I went for the special of the day, tagliatelle with various mushrooms and Fran got the fettuccine alla ciociara - pasta with peas, mushrooms, wrapped in prosciutto.  While I'm unable to comment on Fran's, as I didn't try it, here's my two cents about the tagliatelle.

It was enjoyable but I was surprised by its shape - I was envisioning wide noodles instead of narrow ones that resembled fettuccine.  Regardless, they were good and I enjoyed the aromatic mushroom sauce and the variety of mushrooms inside it.  A hint of truffle oil dressed the sauce and made it more special.

Dessert - The nutella pizza rolls were by far my favorite part of the meal - they were so, so good.  A hint of nostalgia permeated every bite, as my mom's chocolate rugelach popped into my head.  I loved how soft, and pillowy they were, filled with the sweet indulgence of creamy Nutella.  Each bite was a pleasure and I loved unrolling the dough and enjoying each little nibble to its fullest.  Although I'm a huge dessert person, I usually don't finish a portion - but it was impossible not to with these.

Service and Cost:
I was impressed by the knowledge of the waitstaff - they really seem to know the menu backwards and forwards and are not too shabby either when it comes to wine.  Overall, we got great vibes from everyone and even chatted with Chef Ivan and Carlo, Testaccio's owners.  Everyone is personable and ready to strike up a friendly conversation - it's refreshing. 

Costs are moderate and include the following:

Appetizers: $8-$15
Entrees: $16-$30

Pasta: $14-$20
Pizza: $11-$16
Dessert: $8

3 Mmmms


  1. The dessert sounds fabulous! Gives me a great idea for blogging :) Thanks for sharing Judes!!

  2. It was sooooo good. And seemed so simple.

  3. My experience has not been as good as yours. The Beef Carpaccio (technically very thin slices of filet mignon) were actually not so thin, making the carpaccio a very unpleasant dish. They were nice o to make me pay for the appetizer but it really ruined the whole experience. they said the cook is from Rome and knows what he is doing. I said to them that I am as italian as the cook is and I had never seen a carpaccio looking more like a raw steak!.

    The next dish was tune wrapped with bacon. Not a typical Italian dish (and not a Roam dish). Nothing too intriguing.

  4. I'm sorry you had that experience Angelo. I'd encourage you to try it again, as every place has an "off" night once in a while.



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