Dining at Villaggio Ristorante in Whitestone is like relaxing in a charming Italian home and being served a fine meal.
Located at 150-07 14th Road, near the Cross Island Parkway, you feel welcome the moment you enter the door and pass by a lovely cherry wood bar and a brick-oven pizza-making area. You can sit in a glass-enclosed sunroom featuring a waterfall or the traditional dining room filled with paintings, drapes and even name plates, if you’re a regular.
Owner Joe Loccisano opened the restaurant seven years ago in a former bakery and it was an instant hit. Tasting the food, one can see why.
“We named it Villaggio after the Whitestone village and it’s a family place, with food that’s good for sharing,” Loccisano said. “It’s how we eat at home.”
The portions are large so you won’t mind sharing. We tried a sampling of appetizers and it was hard to chose the favorite. The fried calamari was crisp and tender and the eggplant rolatini thick and rich. The sauce was perfect.
Next time, we’ll try the melanzane villaggio, one of the specialties of the house, for an appetizer. It’s breaded eggplant with mozzarella, prosciutto, basil and tomatoes baked in a tomato sauce. A meal in itself.
The waitstaff was helpful, prompt and polite. Our waiter, Benny, made suggestions and added to the refined ambience of the restaurant.
For a salad, we tried that night’s special: tri-color greens with sauteed calamari in an olive oil and garlic dressing. Very refreshing and delicious.
It was difficult to select an entree; they all sounded good. The restaurant features several homemade pastas, including homemade mushroom-spinach ravioli and cavatelli with garlic, olive oil, broccoli rabe and sausage.
I opted for the veal chop sorrentino, while my guest had Chilean sea bass. We were not disappointed.
The veal chop was huge and stuffed with prosciutto, eggplant and fontina cheese in a light brown sauce. Accompanying the meat were roasted potato cubes and sauteed spinach and garlic. The dish was a delight for the palate.
The Chilean sea bass, a house special, came in a white wine and lemon sauce with caramelized onions, capers and cherry tomatoes. No wonder it’s a favorite. The side dish was a delicious angel hair pasta in garlic and oil.
Villaggio doesn’t make it any easier to decide on dessert either. We picked tiramisu, always a favorite, and a refreshingly delicious limonchello truffle that consisted of lemon gelato with a heart of limonchello liqueur that was surrounded by meringue sprinkles. It was truly unique and wonderful.
If we weren’t so stuffed or had come with a larger crowd, we would have tried the nutella pizza for dessert, featuring a hazelnut-chocolate spread.
The restaurant also has a wide range of pizzas, including seafood with shrimp, calamari and clams and a white pizza with spinach or broccoli. Loccisano says they do a big take-out business as well.
Villaggio is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, noon to 11 p.m. There is friendly valet parking Tuesday-Saturday. For information, call (718) 747-1111.