Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Exploring Bizarre Foods at Ornella
I love going to Ornella, and I know that when I do visit, it's always a personal, feel-good/feel-full experience. Last week's dinner was graciously set up by my friend and fellow blogger, Bradley from amuse bouche blog and the theme was "bizarre foods." With a pretense like that, what adventurous foodie worth her salt could refuse?!
Joined by a new blogger friend, Elena from The Gotham Palate blog, we formed a great trio that evening, and after just a few minutes, we were telling long-winded stories, many of which had us in stitches (especially ones told by Bradley).
In the midst of all this, we ate. We ate a lot. In his true hospitable fashion, Giuseppe, Ornella's co-owner brought out a multitude of new dishes, many of which we haven't yet tried at Ornella or nowhere else for that matter. They included:
2 Pizzas - Although pizza is far from bizarre, it is unusual to see it at Ornella, as they technically don't have it on the menu. The two varieties were very different - one classic with cheese and fresh basil on top and the other a stuffed pizza with prosciutto, goat cheese and peppery arugula. Both options were nice, but I preferred the fancier pizza with the tangy cheese and salty prosciutto, not to mention the crispy, thin crust that hugged it from the top and bottom.
Sheep Salad with Burrata - Giuseppe, Ornella's co-owner is a master at reinventing dishes that he remembers from childhood or that have already debuted on Ornella's menu in a slightly different format. This gorgeous salad reminded me of the previous porchetta salad that was also served with fresh juicy tomatoes and soft burrata cheese. The sheep meat was a nice change-up and I liked that it was served chilled and also in bite sized pieces that were appetizing and easy to digest. I don't even have to say it, but the burrata was as creamy, silky and decadent as always.
Pasta Latte - A good example of an Ornella childhood favorite, this pasta was as simple as can be but also as equally delicious. Cooking the pasta in milk instead of water (hence the latte in the title), and letting it reduce, the homemade pappardelle was coated in the smooth, milky and slightly sweet sauce. And even though I didn't grow up eating it, in some way, it reminded me of childhood.
Sweetbreads with Potatoes and Spinach - One of the last dishes of the night, but as the saying goes "save the best for last," we thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought Bradley put it best when he said Ornella has an uncanny way of making this delicacy taste like the the most finger-licking good "Kung Pao Chicken." I agree. Even though some purists would scorn at our comparison, I say "why not?!" The texture of the sweetbreads was tender and wonderful, and its sprinkling of fragrant truffle oil on top just put the cherry on the proverbial sundae.
If you have a penchant for unusual eats that taste smashingly delicious, you know where to find them.
Ornella Trattoria Italiana - 29-17 23rd Avenue, Astoria NY 11105
N/Q Train to Ditmars Blvd