57-59 61st Street
Cash only, beer and wine available
Osteria Italiana (Italian Tavern) inhabits the space formerly occupied by the West Nassau Meat Market. The man behind the curtain in the kitchen is master chef Michael Zampitelli, formerly the owner of the very popular La Tavernetta of Glendale and later Forest Hills.
The servers are pleasant and attentive, and you're likely to have Zampitelli visit your table personally to thank you for visiting when he isn't pre-occupied with food preparation. Osteria puts a lot of effort into assuring that patrons have a quality experience.
The food is delicious and beautifully presented. One specialty, ravioli di vitello burro, salvia e speck (veal ravioli with sage and speck) has been lauded as a perfect dish by 2 local food critics. Seafood and eggplant entrees are also Osteria's specialties.
Almost everything on the menu costs between $7.95 and $18.95. They also offer a prix fixe menu. Osteria Italiana's affordable quality Italian food is most certainly a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Forno Pizzeria e Trattoria
52-29 69th St. • 718-424-1200 www.pizzeriaforno.com
Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday – 11:30 am to 10 pm
Thursday & Friday – 11:30 am to 11 pm
Saturday – 1 pm to 11 pm; Sunday – 1 pm to 10 pm
Cash and credit cards accepted, beer and
wine available • Delivery available
When I heard that a brick oven pizzeria had opened in Maspeth, my first thought was that it sounded too good to be true. After reality set in, I decided to check it out. You should, too, you won't be disappointed.
Forno Pizzeria and Trattoria is an adorable place. The brick oven (forno) is visible from wherever you sit in the cozy dining area. The restaurant is impeccably clean. They play classic pop songs from the 1950s & 60s that you may find yourself singing along to while you wait for your food to be served.
Forno is a family-run location with everyone contributing. Saverio Verde was a chef at former Woodside favorite Sapori D'Ischia and John Verde, Saverio's nephew, spent his pizza learning years at the renowned former Da Ciro on Lexington Avenue. Laura and Diane Verde are warm faces that greet and serve you, the mother-and-daughter team making sure you're not treated as a customer, but more like family.
The day my friend and I visited, we kept it simple. We shared a large Pugliese pizza, made of tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella, sliced onion and pecorino cheese. It was baked just right and the ingredients were obviously very fresh. I topped this off with a tiramisu, which may just have been the best I have ever tasted.
There are all your traditional Italian entrees here as well, like eggplant parmesan, chicken piccata and veal cutlet. And every day, they offer a special soup, panini, appetizer and pasta.
The reasonably priced main entrees run from about $17 to $25. Twelve-inch pizzas are $10-$12 while sixteen-inch pizzas are $20-$23.50. You can't go wrong by going to Forno.