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PICCOLA VENEZIA..ASTORIA brief report

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PICCOLA VENEZIA..ASTORIA brief report

erica | Apr 2, 2003 10:26 AM

Four of us had dinner here last night and since the reports from other hounds had been so helpful, I will post a short report on our experience there. Overall I thought the place was very very good. As it has been noted, they have an extensive wine list as well as a lengthy after-dinner array of grappas, cognacs, etc. Budget contraints led us to choose what was billed as one of the "monthly house selections" on the first page of the wine list..a pretty good chianti, forget the name, for $22.

We began with large order of fried calamari..excellent although I might give the nod on the calamari to Manducatis, this runs a close second and the sauce had a nice pinch of peperoncino in it...great bite to a terrific sauce. Two of us split a Caesar salad..nothing special; I had a half order (they do that there with grace) of the famed gnocchi gorgonzola...as rich as it sounds, even a half order was too much and it was passed around to universal oohs and aahs. The house special bowtie pasta with grappa and mushrooms was interesting but a touch bland for my friend's taste.....admittedly I know nothing about Istrian cuisine so take this entire review with that in mind.
The ravioli tre formaggi with a veal sauce was out of this world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A must.

Now, all of the threads about this place advised sticking with the Istrian dishes and having one of the owners guide you through, regulars get better treatment, etc. I was all for asking the older man, obviously the owner, for advice on choosing main courses but my opinion was nixed so we got a very nice, professional yet friendly waiter who was not really any help in choosing........aside from the house special pasta and one or two veal dishes most of the dishes both on the menu and as specials seemed to be more generic Italian..were we not told about the Istrian dishes?? Should I have insisted we confer with the owner..who was very friendly when we walked in and was always present in the dining room???????

As it was, I had a very good, not wonderful, Dover sole...fish was great but did not care too much for their version of meuniere (sp?) sauce...why was it a dark brown?? (not browned butter). My partner ordered braciole and it was ordinary..great sauce, mundane meat and filling....a bad choice, he should have gone for the osso buco or another of the veal dishes. Also on the table was the special pasta with lobster......excellent with generous chunks of tail and claw meat......again that great red sauce.

I think that was it..no dessert or coffee..bill came to about $180 or so for four of us......my recommendation, as others here have mentioned, make sure you snag the owner or one of his sons and have them take you through the menu and guide you......and make sure you get a half-order only of that gnocchi but a full order of the ravioli with the veal sauce.......Will have to go back once more and do the ordering right next time.....

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