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Oct 29, 2009 07:09 AM

Testaccio (Long Island City)

Anybody tried it yet? Italian, opened last weekend. I'm planning on checking it out this weekend. A whole lotta Italian restaurants on Vernon and Jackson...

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  1. Interesting addition to the neighborhood--the vibe of the place is decidedly unlike other Italian restaurants in the neighborhood, maybe in the borough. Despite the brick walls, this is an unusually spiffy joint; it may be pictures of Rome on the walls and Roman food, but they're clearly intending to take you to... Manhattan. Which is fine, but I usually go to Manhattan if I want to be there.

    I can understand why some locals will prefer to stay in their nabe and eat there, though.

    I had a homemage tagliolini cacio e pepe that was as good as a bowl of pasta as any in the neighborhood--comparable with the specials from Manducati's or Manducati's Rustica, and better than anything at Bella Via or Manetta's. Everything else we had was decent as well. Poor selection of wines by the glass. Friendly staff. Young mobbed-up vibe at the bar up front.

    Reasonably affordable at about $40 a head, depending on drinks.

    The slickness of the room was ultimately a mild negative for me and my family. We're all for a nice night out, but if we're looking that sort of scene we're likely gonna just head through the Midtown Tunnel. But the food is reasonably good and I imagine it is a welcome addition to the neighborhood for some.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MarcInSunnysideGardens

      Agree with the comments above. A fine addition to the neighborhood. I've been twice now, once as a single diner at the bar, once with my wife. Both times had well executed pasta dishes and antipasti. The vibe is a bit too cool for LIC but it may be a sign of things to come for the neighborhood.

      1. re: MarcInSunnysideGardens

        Had lunch at Testaccio yesterday. I've stayed in the Testaccio neighborhood in Rome many times and although the interior may be a bit slick for LIC it's very much like some of the newer restaurants in the Testaccio. I rather like the feel and look of the place. Service was very professional - attentive but not overbearing - and the food was very good indeed. We had an Insalata di pomodori and Carciofi alla Giudea to start. I'm always apprehensive about ordering fresh tomatoes but these were ripe, flavourful and the salad as whole beautifully balanced with raw onion, fresh oregano, peperoncino and a light dressing. The artichokes were nicely done, crispy and not oily, no parmesan thank goodness but the bed of arugula was tired. I then had tagliolini alle vongole which was good freshly made pasta cooked perfectly. Sauce was light and clean tasting and there were just about the right number of clams although it was a bit disappointing that they were not vongole veraci which taste much better. But still a satisfying pasta. My GF had a pizza margarita which had excellent ingredients but could have been more charred and wasn't close to Keste's. She was happy though. We had a nice $32 bottle of Umbrian wine. All in all a very good meal notwithstanding my niggling criticisms. I'll go back. Want to try the Saltimbocca alla Romana.

      2. I'm curious about the rest of the menu. The Testaccio district in Rome is known for several dishes featuring variety meats, because the old slaughterhouse was located there. Many of the workers lived locally, and would take home the "fifth quarter" of the cow to cook. I'd love to find some good oxtails or pagliata around here. Anything like that on the menu?

        47-30 Vernon Blvd., Queens, NY 11101

        2 Replies
        1. re: Amelia Eve

          And I asked the same question at "Quinto Quarto" (5th quarter) a Roman trattoria in the Village. They have almost no offal on the menu. I suppose unless it is a Batali place, no one wants to eat that stuff.

          Testaccio has tripe and oxtail on the menu. Maybe someone has tried them? My sister wen there recently and found the pasta dishes almost inedibily salty, so I haven't been a rush to try it. But maybe she hit them on an off night. They said something about having a new pasta chef or something.

          I've never seen rigatoni alla pajata (calf's intestines) in NYC. Would be nice if either Testaccio or Quinto Quarto offered it at least as a special at some point.

          Cacio e Pepe in the East Village often has oxtails as a special

          47-30 Vernon Blvd., Queens, NY 11101

          1. re: boccalupo

            Qunito Quarto had pajata on its opening menu, but was never able to serve them.

            I've heard you can't legally buy pajata in the U.S., but I'm not sure whether that's true.

        2. I have not had a bad thing there yet. They are very accomodating.

          1. I've eaten there twice in the last month. i really like the bucatini all’amatriciana , very smoky, perfectly al dente. Also loved the artichokes and the oxtail terrine appetizer as well. I liked the diavola pizza, very tasty . Surprisingly good desserts as well, a deconstructed tiramisu and chocolate/coffee flan were good as well. They need better/fresher bread. Foccaia on second visit was stale. Oh and they have a problem with making iced tea, sigh.

            1. I've eaten there several times and have always enjoyed it. The venue is very modern and the owners and staff are very friendly and accomodating. We also enjoyed the food.