The name of one of Astoria's newer Italian joints, Via Vai, is quite fitting. Meaning "coming and going" in Italian, the phrase perfectly describes the nature of most of us New Yorkers, but--as we well know--us busy people always have the time to sit down for a nice meal.
|Photo credit: therestaurantfairy.com|
My boyfriend and I were invited for dinner a few weeks ago before laughing out loud to Larry David in his Broadway debut in Fish in the Dark (highly recommend!). The space is great, and conveniently located near the Ditmars N/Q stop. I especially loved the white subway tile, the glamorous Faema espresso machine, and the Italian-designed Pavesi brick pizza oven which sits as the centerpiece of the restaurant.
We started with the fried calamari served with fried artichokes and citrus zest ($13). This was a large portion for an appetizer, and properly served with a half lemon in mesh wrap for drizzling. The fried artichokes were a nice touch since I love artichokes but hardly ever eat them.
Next up were the polpette, or beef meatballs with tomato sauce ($10). Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best. The standout of this dish was the tomato sauce: tangy, not too sweet, and meshed well with the slightly rich classic ricotta-based meatball.
The special pasta for the night was beet gnocchi with parmesan fondue, porcini sauce, and toasted hazelnuts. This was a very interesting dish and the colors made it quite beautiful. A bit rich for my taste, but delicious nonetheless.
The standout of the meal was dessert, which we unfortunately had to rush through (so no espresso :( ) in order to make it to our show on time. We tried both the panna cotta with caramel sauce and the tiramisu (served in a martini glass!)--both $8. The panna cotta was super creamy and both desserts were as traditional as they come. I felt transported back to Rome. If anything, go to Via Vai just for the dessert!
Overall the meal was good and the ambiance pretty great. If I was to return, as mentioned, it might just be for the dessert and to try something made by that goddess of an espresso machine. The pizzas looked pretty incredible as well. Even though it's Astoria, you can never have too many Italian restaurants!
Note: We were comped a meal for two in exchange for this review, but all opinions are our own.