Monday, May 27, 2013

Il Bacco – Italian Delight on the Edge of Queens and Long Island

Happy to be invited to a tasting in Little Neck’s Il Bacco, I was interested in checking it out, as it’s a cross-over restaurant. What I’m referring to is its location that lies on the Queens/Long Island border, and therefore services residents from both counties.

Situated on the busy Northern Boulevard in Little Neck, Il Bacco stands out amongst other competing restaurants in the neighborhood due to its impressive exterior. Sporting a lovely yellow façade with a crimson roof, it not only looks inviting but is also elegant.

If I’d have to characterize Il Bacco’s style, I’d say it’s traditional Italian with a sophisticated twist. Dining there on a Monday, which is usually an off-night for restaurants, it was nice to see it relatively busy. Looking around the dining room, I noticed a lot of couples, not unlike Dan and me, and it was good to see a variety of age groups. I’d imagine that the clientele looks a bit different on the weekends, with larger parties and kids as well, as Il Bacco offers tons of space.

Another pretty aspect is its rooftop seating, which opens up during warm weather months (now), and I’d imagine it’s really beautiful on a mild summer night.

Dan and I tackled the menu by sharing everything, which was a fun way to go. We appreciated the manageable portions sent out by Il Bacco’s thoughtful staff, as we walked out happy and sated but not excessively stuffed.

Appetizers – The evening started with a simple plate of marinated olives and spicy peppers. These classic antipasti were a great way to whet our appetite, providing a little bite from the spicy olive oil. We also munched on thin slices of prosciutto that paired well with the olives and peppers.

Two additional apps we tried were the grilled octopus and the garlic roasted shrimp. Out of those, I preferred the shrimp, as it was relatively mild, cooked in a white wine sauce with a few salty capers on top. An earthy side of spinach came with it, and was cooked in a simple, clean style with a bit of garlic and lemon.

Pasta – We couldn’t refuse the pasta course and went with the cheese ravioli with crunchy walnuts on top. As you can see, the large pasta pockets were filled with fresh ricotta cheese and then bathed in the creamy walnut sauce. Dan, who’s picky about his cheeses absolutely loved it, and I was happy to experience that despite the creamy sauce, it wasn’t heavy to digest.

Entrees – Our dose of protein came in the form of cod and lamb chops. While both were delicious dishes, we both fell in love with the cod, which was perfectly flaky and so fresh. The tomato sauce on top was gorgeous and a little chunky too, which gave it nice texture. Laced with pieces of roasted garlic, fresh tomatoes and basil, it was an all-around winning combination. I highly recommend this to all seafood fans out there.

Desserts – As you can imagine, we were both pretty full after the aforementioned feast, but there’s always room for dessert. What arrived was a beautifully colorful platter of assorted Italian goodies such as tartufo, tiramisu, Italian cheesecake, poached pears and a variety of fruit. It’s hard to choose a favorite, as everything was outstanding, with the tartufo leading the charge in excellence. Its dark chocolate shell was a pleasure to eat, as well as its ice cream layer, boasting a distinct amaretto flavor that was so delicious. The simple poached pears were a close second favorite, followed by the delicate tiramisu. However, as I said, all the desserts were delightful.

Service and Cost:
We appreciated the old school wait service here, made up of mostly male waiters. Not only were they cordial and charming, they know their stuff and I felt confident entrusting our waiter in deciding most of our dishes. In fact, the service reminded me a little bit of what you’d experience at a classic institution such as Peter Luger’s (also not far from Il Bacco).

Costs are moderate and accurately reflect the high quality of one’s overall dining experience:

Appetizers: $9.95 - $12.95
Pasta: $15.95 - $24.95
Entrees: $20.95 - $36.95
Dessert: $7 - $9

3 Mmmms

Il Bacco – 253-24 Northern Blvd, Little Neck, NY 11362
LIRR to Little Neck Station

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