Monday, August 2, 2010

Making Fresh Pasta and Brunching at Ornella

Saturday provided quite the eating extravaganza, as I found myself in one of my favorite Astoria spots, Ornella.  I was with Rachel, a friend who interviewed me for a school project and together, we enjoyed a lovely brunch.  And as is usually the case at Ornella, we got more than what we bargained for (and that's always a good thing!)

Grilled Calamari - Because we were super hungry, Rachel ordered us a plate of grilled calamari, which was served with fresh mixed greens and cherry tomatoes, flavored by a really amazing, lemony vinaigrette.  We loved the dressing so much that we asked Giuseppe, Ornella's co-owner what was in it.  With modesty, he said it was simply their basic vinaigrette with oil, lemon, garlic and salt and pepper. was so refreshing and went perfectly with the generous pieces of grilled calamari. 

Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu - This fresh pasta dish came as a surprise.  It was piping hot and gorgeously interlaced with tender meat and other earthy ingredients such as mushrooms.  Even though it's summer, there's something so comforting and wonderful about this dish, making it suitable for any season.  I especially loved the delicate pasta and how it juxtaposed with the heartier meat.  If you're a carnivore, don't you dare skip this--I think it'd make a great dinner entree too.

Pancakes with Nutella - Hearing only good things about Ornella's pancakes, I just had to try them, and even more so because my favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread, Nutella was involved.  Well...simply look at the above picture! Aren't they beauties?  Not only are these pancakes absolutely gargantuan, they're double the width of ordinary pancakes.  But that doesn't mean they're heavy and dense - on the contrary, they're light-as-air and pair wonderfully with fresh fruit and rich Nutella.  Simply put...they're a choc-a-holic's dream.

Fresh Pasta Made by Us - In addition to the awesomeness I just described, Giuseppe taught us to make fresh pasta.  Not only did this make me giddy, causing me to giggle like a little kid, but the pasta tasted incredible and was a real step up from its dried brethren.

We made two kinds of pasta - first a thin, silk-like spaghetti alla chitarra and then a larger, rigatoni-like garganelli.  The first involved using a special pasta machine called a chitarra (guitar in English) that had wire strings to separate the pasta dough. So simple and timeless.  The second pasta instrument was even more rudimentary and consisted of a small, square wooden platform with grooves that helped the garganelli attain their pretty ridges.

Take a look at the video to visualize the process and to try it yourself.

Service and Cost:
I don't really even have to touch on the service aspect because it's never short of excellent.  Giuseppe and staff were as hospitable as ever and we enjoyed a very leisurely and educational meal.  I wouldn't change a thing.

Prices for brunch are pretty stellar and include a $13 prix-fixe which includes unlimited mimosas or bellinis, an entree and coffee.

3 Mmmms

Ornella Trattoria Italiana
29-17 23rd Avenue, Astoria NY 11105
N/W Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop)

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