Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ornella Puts Out Another Hit


Any excuse I find to go to Ornella Trattoria, I take it, so when it came time to organize We Heart Astoria's bi-monthly blogger social, it was the first place that came to mind.  Giuseppe, Ornella's co-owner was too happy to oblige, letting me know that a larger party wouldn't be a problem and that he'd work up a special menu for us.  Fun!  My colleagues, Meg, Mackenzi and I looked forward to it all week. And alas, the day came!

We got a nice long table at the front of the restaurant, near the long open window that carried in a comfortable breeze.  It was so fun to meet everyone and exchange our favorite Astoria blogging experiences.  There was a nice representation from various Astoria based blogs, including AJ from Handjobs for the Home, Sam from cocktailians, Annabel from 30th Ave Blog, Scott and Kate from We Could Eat and Erich & WT from gardenfreude blog.  I loved meeting these fantastic people and breaking bread with them was far more interesting that my typical Monday night.

Our special menu consisted of a choice of an appetizer, entree and wine for a good price.  Although I've tried nearly everything on the menu, here are some newbies I devoured:

Prosciutto, Melon & Burrata - I've had burrata here before, but I haven't had it with this classic melon/prosciutto combination and it was wonderful.  A lovely way to start a meal, it injected a breath of freshness from the melon, which helped to cut the indulgence from the creamy, milky cheese and the salty, smoky prosciutto.  Meg got it too and agreed it was delizioso.

Pappardelle with Braised Rabbit - Giuseppe had me at "pappardelle," which I knew even without him saying it, would be homemade.  He gave me a special portion with braised rabbit, cooked in a hearty tomatoey sauce with olives and garlic that really elevated the flavors of the meat to the next level.  I'm sometimes lukewarm on rabbit because of how bony it is, but I loved this iteration, with the tender, juicy meat that you just wanted to devour completely, leaving nothing but those little bones.  The pappardelle were smooth and a little thicker than what I'm used to, but I loved them, especially since they held their own next to the rabbit and did a great job of hanging on to that heavenly sauce.

Roasted Sole with Angel Hair Pasta - This was Meg's dish and a number of other friends chose it too.  I loved the sheer size of the fish, which was so generous and sported a beautiful golden skin.  I had a taste and loved how lemony it was and also appreciated the adequate amount of seasoning on it - I dislike when a good fish tastes bland because it's underseasoned, and that wasn't the case here.

Homemade Espresso with Foam - One of the highlights of our meal was when Giuseppe demoed how to make a homemade espresso with zabaglione-style cream in the simplest way.  By whipping it!  I loved the story behind the process he described to us as, "making the first coffee of the day," which starts him off each morning.  We had a taste of course and not only was it fragrant and delicious, the cream on top was sweet, fluffly and irresistible.

Service and Cost:
In true Ornella fashion, the service was magnifico - we got tons of personal attention but were also left alone to just chill and enjoy our surroundings.  I think that I speak for everyone when I say that a fantastic time was had.  Unfortunately I had to run out early, but my colleagues stayed and lingered for some more conversation in this fantastic setting.

Costs are affordable and as I mentioned, we worked out a special menu for this large group, which set us back about $27 per person including tax and tip.

3 Mmmms

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

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