Through my Astoria explorations, one of my most joyous recent discoveries is Vesta Trattoria and Wine Bar. On the corner of 30th avenue and 21st street sits one of the coziest Italian restaurants in New York, offering simple, Italy-inspired favorites guided by the local greenmarket.
Even the heavenly soft peasant bread comes from the Gianpiero bakery right up the street. Vesta supports not only local markets and businesses, but local artists, as well.
As I sat down to dinner with David, I looked over his shoulder in sheer glee. "Omigosh...David, can you read the description? Does that say, 'Bea Arthur?'" He grinned, "nope...Dorothy." And as we looked further throughout the dining room, we noticed each of the Golden Girls guarding over the trattoria.
Scanning the dining room, we soon found Sophia, Rose, and Blanche, as well. Lo and behold, we were surrounded by an exhibition by artist, Tiffany Graeff. We soon discovered that other artists previously featured included even our server this evening, Davi Leventhal. You absolutely must click on his link and peruse his creations... And for someone with such unquestionable artistic prowess, you will never find a more gentle and gracious host to guide you through your experience.
Unsure which wine will best suit your meal? You can order many of the wines by the bottle, glass, or even just a shot for a few bucks. I highly recommend the aglianico. This deep garnet wine is a perfect pairing for the rich Italian flavors in the dishes.
We devoured the thin-crust margherita pizza... though they offer some creative combinations with caramelized onions and apples or duck leg and goat cheese, sometimes the classic pie just can't be topped. The crust was crisp and flaky, and the sauce and mozzarella di bufala balanced for the perfect pie.
The slow-braised meatballs were jumbo spheres from heaven, and rival even Manhattan's most famous doppelgangers. Watch out Carmine's. Vesta is giving you a run for the money...
The lasagna with three-meat ragu, baked in a clay dish, was the epitome of what lasagna should be. Golden and bubbly, with a robust meat sauce, and pasta that was light as a cloud. Preparing for a blizzard outside, this couldn't have been a more satisfying rendition of an Italian classic.
If you order nothing else, you simply cannot leave without the extravagantly luscious and buttery Baby Jesus Cake... a gooey sponge of date cake with a blanket of warm butterscotch and a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.
The dish that left David awestruck was quite possibly the single most scrumptious bread pudding imaginable. The chocolate is decadent, but the dish somehow remains light and fluffy, and pairs superbly with the mascarpone ice cream. What? Yes, mascarpone ice cream on chocolate bread pudding... It was like nibbling on a cocoa cloud.
Grab a cab for a few bucks, and enjoy the ride over the bridge into Queens. Or take the N or W to 30th avenue and walk a few blocks. But however you do it, you've gotta get to Vesta Trattoria and Wine Bar.