The much anticipated Osteria Venturo opened on Queens Blvd (between 44th and 45th) this week, replacing the defunct Tapenade Bistro. Our first impressions were very good, although this is more of an upscale restuarant (at least for Sunnyside) and likely to be reserved for just special occassions if you plan on eating a full meal.
The Wall-sized window creates a very open atmosphere and lets in a lot of light. We were lucky to get a table right next to that window. The restaurant was quite full on Friday evening, but they do take reservations in case you don’t want to wait on the spot (we ended up only having to wait a few minutes).
There is a very large drink selection – although aside from water I did not see anything non-alcoholic on that menu. In addition to wines, there is a nice list of cocktails, as well as a number of excellent beers like Captain Lawrence, Ithaca Flower Power, and even Italian beers. Prices are at a bit of a premium from regular bars (e.g. $6 or $7 for the typical bottle).
The menu itself is not every extensive, but each item sounds special and is probably worth getting. We started with a couple of appetizers (around the $10 mark). The Panzanella salad and Mussels are seen in the picutres above. I was surprised at the large amount of mussels that were included – definitely plenty for two people. The unique curry sauce they came with complemented them well. Not the best mussels in the world, but good and worth the price.
The entree menu is dividend into pizzas, pastas, and traditional entrees. Yes, you can get a few 14 inch pizzas, which we did not try but heard were pretty good. The pasta dishes are all under $15. One is the FLOTUS pasta, which includes shrimp, and is presumably drived from one of Michelle Obama’s healthy eating suggestions? The pastas are apparently made on premises, and I guess you pay the price for that. One of the dishes includes just six pierogi-sized pasta pieces for $14. THey were very good though – definitely better than any other pasta you can get in Sunnyside. Just don’t expect to be full after eating it.
The priciest individual entree is the $24 wild striped bass. The fish itself is very well prepared – it practically melts in your mouth, and has a perfectly crispy skin. It comes witha side of string beans and bits of bacon, smothered with a cranberry-like sauce. It was very delicious and I practically licked my plate clean. So if you can afford it, I would go for this in lieu of the pastas.
There are a half-dozen desserts to choose from, all around $7. They have quite interesting names, such as the “Baby Jesus” toffee cake we ordered. It was surprisingly large (especially given the relatively small sizes of the other dishes), and very unique – I don’t typically see something like this on dessert menus. Was it good? It was sacrilicious! Also pictured is the Arancini – breadcrump-covered rice balls with a bit of pudding. The only bad part of the dessert was that it took forever for it to come out – we waited for it even longer than we did for the entrees.