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Aug 16, 2007 08:08 AM

Sapori d'Ischia - great experience! (long post)

I was just a teeny bit nervous about dining here last night to celebrate my birthday, but being in walking distance to our apartment and given the occasion, decided to go for it. We were treated really well from the second we approached the place, when an elderly man sitting at a sidewalk table greeted us. We were told to take any table in the place and had menus and water within seconds. The olive oil they serve with their bread was really wonderful.

Wednesday night they do indeed offer their prix fixe, although they don't exactly advertise it. For $30, you get your choice of appetizer, entree or pasta, and dessert. A pretty amazing deal, considering the prices on the menu. The reasonably priced wine list was most welcome.

We started with the beef carpaccio and the insalata di funghi. The carpaccio was thicker than you find at most restaurants, but had a really delicious beefy flavor. The mushroom salad was a little weird - cold, wet mushrooms are not all that appealing, actually - but they were served on a bed of frisee which was placed on a bed of prosciutto, and when all was tasted together, it was more than the sum of its parts.

For entrees, we went with the two most frequently recommended dishes: the Fettucine al Alfredo (the one prepared tableside in the cheese wheel) and the short ribs. Both were genuinely delicious and well-prepared. The fettucine is absurdly rich and very cheesy - but its interesting in that its strongly flavored of cheese without actually eating a lot of cheese (you can easily pick out the chunks of parmesan to control the cheese consumption). The tableside preparation was a fun flourish, but while they were going through the tossing, the short ribs and potatoes lost a lot of heat. Still, we really, really enjoyed them.

For dessert, I had house-made strawberry gelato and my husband had the raspberry tart. Both were nice, but I would recommend the gelato - besides, after such a heavy meal, its about all one can stomach!

The water thing really didn't bother me, as that is how its done in Italy (which, of course, has some of the best municipal water in Europe). The first bottle was on the house, the second one was $4.

There was live entertainment - a very expressive singer/guitar player delivering light-rock classics - but I think it just added to the quirkiness and I found it amusing.

The total at the end of the night - two three course meals, two bottles of wine and one bottle of water - $160. The service was fine, no complaints at all. We will definitely be back, even if its just for pizzas or appetizers.

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    1. re: ardnaxela

      55-15 37th Avenue in Woodside, Queens.

    2. We are also big fans of this place - especially before Mets games......
      Never had a bad experience, frequently ethereal........

      1 Reply
      1. re: BillyBob

        I like the place a lot. I've had a few great meals there, and the water thing can be a bit annoying but I got over it. A lot of people, including my friends, have issues w/ the water thing and the service, but the food is undeniably good. I should go back for that bargain prix fixe.

      2. Friends want to dine here this week. I have not had terrific meals in the past and am looking for guidance on what to order. I do not want the fettucine Alfredo!

        Do they have any dishes with truffles? (Not the truffle oil that they use liberally)

        Also, any hints on how the prices for the grocery items compare with those at, for example, DiPalo? Is freshness an issue?

        Many thanks!

        6 Replies
        1. re: erica

          truffle season way past peak, if not over entirely

          1. re: erica

            We were there a couple of months ago and were not overly impressed either. Friendly, reasonably priced but basically ehh food. Sorry I cant be of much more help but I only remember that the pastas seemed to be better than the entrees. And it looked to me that the grocery items (we were sitting next to the shelves so I looked) were not filled with things unavailable elsewhere nor at better prices.

            1. re: Steve R

              That is exactly the impression I had both times I ate there. Oh well...thanks for confirming, Steve.

              I think they do pizzas--maybe these will be a better bet for me.

              1. re: erica

                Just want to make a brief comment that we had an excellent meal here last night. Much better than in the past. Perhaps this was due to the fact that all of our dishes were chosen from the list of daily specials, recited by the waiter before the meal.

                Mussels in a tasty broth which was later sopped up by good house-baked bread

                Large ravioli filled with eggplant,tomatoes and ricotta salata

                Veal chops

                The new sommelier/barman is an interesting man with true sommelier credentials and an obvious love for the wine that he so willingly will discuss with guests.

                I bought a liter bottle of their house-brand new olive oil,from Gaeta. $15. I will report back after opening.

                1. re: erica

                  My wife and I are also big fans of the restaurant and never had an "off" meal there. I'd also mention the service is always warm and excellent.

                  To the OP- TWO bottles of wine?!!! And my wife thinks we drink a lot when we finish ONE!

                  1. re: Stuartmc910

                    My wife and I live a few blocks away. We've gone at least 15 times and have never had a bad experience.