Drove to Ridgewood with a friend and sought out this mom-and-pop Italian based on a recommendation by another chowhound on this board. I hadn't realized there was an Italian enclave tucked into the center of Ridgewood. Incredible. Leafy, quiet streets, old bakeries and a cool-looking pork store, and then this small restaurant. It's a pizza place during the day, with an oven and flourescent lights apparently. The lights are turned off and replaced my more atmospheric incandescent ones in the evening, and waiter service begins.
Nearly everything we had was top-quality without trying to impress. The large antipasto was the only item that was just standard. Definitely made when we ordered (everything took a little while), though, and perfectly fine: salami, provolone, peppers, onions, lettuce and tomato. Then we had "mannarino" bread (if I'm spelling it correctly), which was basically garlic bread with a little grated cheese on top and anchovies. Delicious, very salty, and a huge portion for $2.25. We also ordered a special app from the board on the wall: eggplant and mushrooms, which came refreshingly non-oily (I like oil, but this made it more special) with many chunks of crispy garlic on top, shaved parmesan, and a little oregano. Great ingredients and seriously good.
I tried to get the bucatini con sarde e finnochi, but they were out, so I trepidatiously ordered linguini with white clam sauce. I was scared they might use canned clams. I was wrong. They were beautifully fresh, with huge chunks of garlic and just the right amount of olive oil. The linguini was perfect, reminding me just how hard it is to get pasta timed right for serving at the table. My friend had spaghetti with meat sauce with sides of meatballs ($2.00) and sausage ($2.00). The sausage was delicious: long and skinny, packed with minty fennel, with a dollop of sweet tomato sauce over them. Maybe from the pork store down the road? The meatballs were veal and light and airy.
We drank two carafes of their house wine, served chilled, which complemented the food perfectly. None of our dishes was more than $10.
The other customers were all local, with a couple straight of the Sopranos. Outside, old guys were sitting on steps (from before our meal to after it) talking. It's a fascinating neighborhood and I intend to return.
Btw, it's at 66-63 Forest Ave. Driving from Manhattan, take the Williamsburg Bridge to Metropolitan Ave. into Queens, drive about 8 blocks to Forest, make a right, and drive another 10 blocks or so. Even easier: there's a station right next to the restaurant on the little-used M line.
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