Ornella Trattoria (29-17 23rd Ave.. Astoria)
Tired of ordering Chinese take-out on Christmas? This year, Ornella Trattoria will be open Christmas Eve and Christmas day...
One of my favorite things about Ornella Trattoria is that chef-owner Giusseppe Viterale is almost daily exploring to try out new dishes for his menu. No text message gets me quite as excited as one from him, inviting me in to sample one of his newest creations. This past week's dish is one of particular fascination, as it is a pasta of which I have never heard. Further research has shown that it's a pasta rarely found on any menu (in fact, only one other restaurant in New York City has the tools to make it.)
Corzetti is a pasta made using a two-piece wooden stamp tool, one end of which cuts uniform circles, one end serves as a handle, and the other two ends holding ornate carved decorations used to emboss the pasta rounds with a festive design. The imprint, while decorative, also helps the pasta hold its sauce.
After explaining this unique pasta to us, Giuseppe offered to let my dear friend, Hayley, have a take at making her own corzetti. Check out the brief video above...
The final product was a fantastically textured pasta, blanketed with a creamy walnut pesto sauce, asparagus spears, and a drizzle of truffle oil. Beyond doubt, it stands out as one of my favorite pasta dishes, ever. The crushed walnuts added a rich earthiness sometimes lacking with pine nuts, and the fragrant basil pesto with decadent truffle oil was truly spectacular.
The award for best winter dish in Astoria has to go to Ornella's pork osso buco, with ridiculously tender pork that falls from the bone in giant, juicy pieces, mounted on a bed of a saffron risotto laced with a creamy blend of cheeses.
Be sure to ask Giuseppe if bottarga is available to garnish your dish. An Italian delicacy, bottarga is sea salt cured caviar that is sealed in beeswax, then shaved over various dishes to add a unique, salty hint of the ocean, which livens the other flavors in the pasta. In the dish above, we sampled a red mullet bottarga over a simple linguine tossed in olive oil and crushed garlic cloves, and it was utterly delicious.
Check out the gorgeous red wine sauce on these outrageously tender pork tenderloin medallions. I have never tasted such juicy, succulent, lean filets of pork in my life. The secret? Giuseppe only uses the finest wines for this sauce, not merely cooking wine or table wine. The result is a slightly sweet, crimson glaze that beautifully compliments this filet mignon of pork.
Ornella has also extended their pasta night specials from Monday through Thursday nights, where all your pasta favorites are just $10.