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Restaurants & Bars 6

Il Falco

Pookipichu | Aug 19, 2014 07:07 AM

Il Falco is an Italian restaurant that just opened in Queens headed by to former chefs from the Il Mulino empire. Il Falco is still in soft-opening phase so take my review with a grain of salt.

They opened in the erstwhile Da Gianni space (a rather sad Italian restaurant that served middling food).

I love Italian food and was looking forward to a new "upscale" Italian restaurant opening in Queens.

The decor is frescos and fake tile like you'd see at a nicer Italian restaurant in Long Island. The lighting is very dim and romantic since whoever you're eating with is slightly obscured, and there are nice touches like a fresh rose at every table.

The service is the highlight, very professional, all the servers are crisply well-dressed, very helpful, attentive and provide some of the best service in Queens.

The meal started with bruschetta that had a very nice balance of flavors, lively olive oil but the tomatoes were ice cold, just shy of 0 degrees celsius.

The bread basket provided is weak with white and grain loaves and toast points, all of them hard and dry in varying degrees. I asked for the bread to be heated and the service was very gracious in doing so. It greatly improved the quality of the bread to a level that was edible.

I asked for appetizer recommendations and burrata was highly recommended. I asked the waiter if the cheese was served cold and he said yes. I asked if the tomatoes that come with it are cold and he said yes. I'm glad I asked. After the tooth numbing tomatoes of the bruschetta, I did not want freezer cold mozzarella. I was beginning to wonder if I really was in an Italian restaurant.

I started with calamari fritti, which at 16.95 is one of the poorest values in Queens. If the rendition was exceptional, then I wouldn't be complaining. While the presentation (in a folded napkin) and the thoughtfulness of the lemon stretch wraps were all pleasant, and some of the pieces were perfectly cooked, the breading had a cheese flavor that was unnecessary and distracting and most of the breading was not crisp enough as if they were afraid of over cooking the calamari or the oil was not hot enough. Most of it was mushy, with that slight cheese flavor and the portion was the size of small fist. The marinara sauce was served on the side and was piping hot and pleasantly spicy (though mild) but had burned notes in it.

Chicken Il Falco is mixed chicken pieces off the bone with sausage and tomato sauce. It's pleasantly spicy but a little sweet, the flavors read more like an Indian restaurant's take on General Tso's chicken than an Italian dish and the smothered, over-sauced presentation is not doing it favors. All in all, I wouldn't dissuade from ordering the dish, but it's not quite what I expected and too sweet.

Gnocchi pesto was my pasta side and the pesto was piping hot, had none of the bright lovely basil flavor I was expecting and the gnocchi was under-sauced. I have no idea why the pesto was so hot, it tasted cooked. If the pesto was cooked, that would explain the lack of flavor and as to why they would cook pesto, I'm baffled. The gnocchi itself was gummy and leaden.

Hoping to redeem my meal with dessert I ordered the Italian cheesecake, assured it was made with ricotta cheese. The presentation of the cheesecake was so peculiar, it was like they took half a slice of cheesecake that another restaurant would serve, then sliced that half in halves. Two thin slices of cheesecake were stacked staggered on top of each other next to zabaione, whipped cream, sliced kiwi, black berries and raspberries and dusted with powdered sugar. At this point, all the Italian in-laws in my extended family would need to be bleeped and censored if they had eaten there. The cheesecake was wet, not moist, wet and it was overpowered with the taste of vanilla extract. If you've ever tasted vanilla extract straight from a spoon, you know what I'm talking about. At 10.50, it was easily the worst and most expensive 1/2 slice of Italian(?) cheesecake I've ever eaten.

I'm cringing while writing this review, because the service is exceptional, the staff is fantastic. But the glowing yelp reviews are completely out of whack with my experience. The food preparation (cold tomatoes, cold cheese, hot pesto), cooking and pricing have some major kinks.

The peach pie at M. Wells Steakhouse is 11.00 and is a big slab of gorgeous ripe peaches in perfect pie crust with duck fat, and is truly phenomenal. At 10.50, I should be getting a slice of good cheesecake, not slivers of wet, gloopy ricotta laced with vanilla extract.

The restaurant has potential as a romantic neighborhood restaurant, but the cooking and food are hurting the restaurant and the great service.

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