Venturo Osteria and Wine Bar

Sunnyside’s Queens Boulevard is definitely for the up-and-coming. Pink Icing bakery is going strong. Salt and Fat has made a huge splash on the New York food scene. And now we have Venturo Osteria and Wine Bar, whose pedigree promises great things. The question is, does it live up to its promise?

venturo three-cheese plate

three-cheese plate

Located in a newly renovated space, Venturo takes the place of an old French restaurant called Tapenade, which was never right for the neighborhood. The service wasn’t with it and the food was just so-so, at a higher price point than anyone likely wanted to pay. So, when I read about an Italian restaurant owned by a seasoned restaurateur replacing Tapenade, I was excited—thrilled, even.

We went to Venturo with high hopes, and the place mostly lived up to them, but I have a few issues with the food (and service).

To start, we opted for the three-cheese plate with mozzarella, primo sale and ricotta. Legend is that Venturo makes its own cheese, bread and pasta—all of which are very good, I assure you, though the bread that was served to us was over salted. You can order these cheeses separately, of course, but we wanted the full Venturo experience so we ordered the flight. The mozzarella came with a sun gold tomato salad; the primo sale was covered in a salty, delicious olive tapenade; and the ricotta featured drizzled pistachio oil on top. Of the three, the clear winner was the primo sale, which was soft, dense and creamy and unlike any cheese I’ve ever had before. The mozzarella was very good, too, but not as flavorful as Palma’s, and the ricotta was looser than what I’m accustomed to. If you’re going to try one, get the primo sale.

venturo fettuccine

fettuccine

The menu is limited at Venturo, and there was some speculation by MDP that they possibly rotate their dishes depending upon the season or ingredient availability. I hope this is the case. They have three pastas on the menu, three entrees and two group dinners listed for people to sample.

I opted for the fettuccine, which was supposedly with pistachios, orange zest, parsley, black pepper and ricotta béchamel. The béchamel was definitely delicious, but the dish was overpowered by the inclusion of the black pepper. I ate it all—naturally—but was disappointed that the slightest hint of orange zest didn’t come through.

MDP ordered the pork shoulder milanese. Venturo takes an interesting approach to milanese. Like most places, they include a salad on top of the featured meat, but Venturo decided to put citrus fruits in the salad. MDP was delighted by this, though, if it was me, I would have been upset, as I am not fond of citrus. I tried MDP’s finely breaded pork shoulder cutlet and, while it was fairly delicious, it was clearly tough, possibly as a result of being overcooked.

venturo baby jesus cake

baby jesus cake

We knew we had to order dessert, so we got the baby Jesus cake, which is something I’m struggling to describe. It was unlike the king cake I’ve had in the past, which is presumably what they were angling for when they called the dish baby Jesus cake. It was dense and brown, and unappetizing to look at, but doused in a warm toffee sauce with a dollop of whipped cream. It ended up being somewhat delectable, but I’d probably order something else next time. (Venturo has about four dishes on their dessert menu.) I ordered a cappuccino and that was fantastic.

All in all, the food was pretty decent, but there’s definitely room for improvement. The service was slow and a little bit disorganized. One time, one guy would come over to our table; then, a woman would serve us. It was like, who’s my waiter?

I wouldn’t call Venturo a destination restaurant, unlike Palma. But it is definitely a good thing for the neighborhood and I wish it the very best.

Venturo Osteria and Wine Bar

44-07 Queens Boulevard (between 44th and 45th streets)

Sunnyside, NY

Take the 7 to 46th Street and walk east a few blocks on Queens Boulevard.

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Palma

Situated down on Cornelia Street, on a long, lonely block, Palma awaits you. It’s cute, brief exterior belies the wonder found within.

palma mozzarella di bufala insalata

mozzarella di bufala insalata

Palma sells Italian specialties, and you know how I feel about Italian food from Italian restaurants. That is, I typically do not like it. But Palma is the rare exception to the rule, so I implore you: go to Palma.

My Lady Dining Partner (MLDP) and I walked into Palma to find a crowded interior with people bustling around a small bar. We were seated at a table for two in close proximity to both the window and the tables around us. MLDP squeezed her pregnant body into the chair and we were at last comfortable in our own little world.

We ordered the mozzarella di bufala insalata, which was served with olive-oil drizzled arugula and hearty slices of tomato. I have never had such good mozzarella. It was creamy and dense, and altogether fantastic. On the specials list—and I get the feeling this is a daily special—there was a burrata option, which tempted us, but we ultimately chose the mozzarella on the menu. You won’t be disappointed if you opt for this.

palma pappardelle dish

pappardelle dish

For our entrees, we both ordered pasta dishes off the regular menu. I got the pappardelle allo spezzatino d’Agnello—a long name for a fine dish, which contained long, wide ribbons of pasta with slow-cooked lamb, tomatoes, and kalamata olives thrown in. The salty flavor of the olives nicely complemented the richness of the lamb. It was incredible. MLDP ordered the fettuccine ai funghi, which had the most delicious mushrooms I have ever eaten. They were tender and rich with flavor. I only took a bite of her mushroom pate, but the pasta itself—which must be homemade, to be so glorious—looked amazing.

We passed on dessert, although Palma has a few Italian delicacies on their sweets menu, such as a bufala ricotta cheesecake. It must be heavenly.

I can’t wait to go back to Palma, and I think you should go, too. I highly recommend the pasta, and am certain the secondi dishes live up to Palma’s pledge for well-crafted food.

Palma

28 Cornelia Street

West Village, New York

Take the A/B/C/D/E/F/M to West 4th Street and walk around the corner to Cornelia Street.

The Cronut™

MDP got up at 5 am to get me these cronuts. My birthday is Sunday and he’d thought it would be a nice treat for me to have on my “work” birthday, which is today.

It was.

the cronut

the cronut

What can one say about such a unique pastry? Its crisp doughnut-like exterior is rolled in granulated sugar for a sweet bite. And its croissant interior is smooth and silky, perfectly blending with the cream that bursts as you chew. The flavor I was served was coconut. It was faint enough to be unobtrusive, while still supplying the full-bodied taste of a real coconut.

cronut interior

interior shot

The cronut is by far the best pastry I’ve ever had. You should get one. Or find someone who loves you enough to wake up at 5 and make their way down to SoHo to Dominique Ansel’s quaint bakery. I’m a lucky girl!